Abelson Suggests Outsourcing Mankiw

Curmudgeonly Barron’s columnist Alan Abelson follows up on Council of Economic Advisers chief Gregory Mankiw’s laudatory comments about outsourcing earlier this week with a proposal:

“We suspect there are legions of highly qualified economists in Bangalore or Guangdong who would leap at the opportunity to do the council’s work for a modest fraction of what the council pays its people. We respectfully propose that Mr. Mankiw practice what he preaches by introducing the glories of free trade into his little bureaucracy.”

While cost is part of Abelson’s argument for outsourcing Mankiw’s job, he also thinks there could hardly be any reduction in quality:

“Early last year (under a different but equally luminous honcho), it predicted that in 2003 payrolls would swell by 1.7 million. As it happened, that forecast was a tad errant since not a single, solitary job was added last year and, indeed, some were lost; and we confidently venture that this year’s estimate of 2.6 million net new jobs also will prove wildly — make that ludicrously — optimistic. So, operating on the basis, as the council manifestly does, that a miss is as good a mile, our putative Indian economists couldn’t have done — or possibly do — any worse.”

I disagree with Abelson, and I’m sure he does too, but that doesn’t mean his suggestion isn’t at least a little bit funny.

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