Watching various economists and their fellow travelers talk past, through and in elliptical and opaque orbits around one another on economic stimulus packages is depressing.
Examples? Okay. Here from the last few days are economists Paul Krugman and Tyler Cowen batting back and forth at one another about spending and stimulus. My frustration isn’t so much the schoolyard silliness, but the demonstrated inability of prominent economists to talk to one another in the same language with words meaning the same thing and not freighted with a metric ton (or ten) of political baggage.
- Another temporary misunderstanding (Krugman)
- Permanent vs. temporary increases in government consumption (Cowen)
- Read before linking (wonkish) (Krugman)
- Permanent vs. temporary increases in government spending, a Keynesian approach (Cowen)
- I do not think that word … (Krugman)
If nothing else, however, one benefit of the current depression is that whatever meager value macroeconomics was thought to have as a prescriptive discipline is thoroughly shot.
[Update] It seems I’m not the only one feeling this way. Check economist Justin Wolfers "On the Failure of Macroeconomists" over at the NYT.