Anti-austerity is terrible messaging

Opposition to the UK government’s cuts, since 2010, in all public services – deep cuts in police, transport, hospitals, schools, fire, universities, disability benefits, mental health services, care for the elderly, legal aid for the poor, nursery schools, the army, green technology … everything – has gone under that banner of “anti-austerity”. And every time I hear the slogan, I despair.
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DeLong’s endearing false modesty

In this post, fiscal expansionist Brad DeLong says kind and admiring about austerian Ken Rogoff, concluding on a note that if taken literally is strikingly humble – not a characteristic we associate with DeLong. All the while, he is gently taking Rogoff’s argument to pieces: the humility smacks of false modesty, going almost too far to be good manners, but it’s clearly meant as good manners. Is he making up for joining in the schadenfreude over the Reinhart-Rogoff spreadsheet debacle? Is he just happy to be able to engage with a prominent austerian who, unlike many of the Chicago school (Fama, Cochrane, Lucas, Stephen Williamson …) understands Keynesian reasoning and has not erased from memory two hundred years of monetary theory? Maybe he just figures you can’t do nuance on the Web, so he slathers the flattery thick. It’s a little disconcerting to see somebody whose reflexive reaction to error is such that he used to run a “stupidist person alive” contest on his blog, to frame a fundamental disagreement about a matter of great import in such an elaborately respectful tone. Still, civil discourse is nice.

p.s. Read De Long’s post down to the comments – Robert Waldmann’s is spot on.

Colbert interviews Thomas Herndon, the Reinhart-Rogoff slayer

A great week for the University of Massachusetts Economics PhD program – I’m glad to say I did mine there.

Steven Colbert “reports” on Reinhart & Rogoff, and then interviews Thomas Herndon, the UMass grad student who uncovered the weakness of Reinhart & Rogoff’s correlation & utter absence of a cliff at 90% debt:GDP (if you want to go beyond correlation to causation in Reinhart-Rogoff, see Paul Krugman, and also Ugo Panizza and Andrea Presbitero).

If licensing barriers make it hard to see the Colbert Report on the web where you are, there may be a browser plug-in to help you. Xtremis Reaction points us to one, which works, at least with Firefox in the UK.

Opportunity in scarcity of pro-austerity studies?

Research papers that justify today’s austerity policies are scarce, and the first thing economists teach is that scarcity creates market value. The two big jewels in the small crown of austerity justification have been Continue reading