Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Not qualified

An interesting article by Gregory Clark on the post-crisis status of macroeconomics includes the following money quote:

Recently a group of economists affiliated with the Cato Institute ran an ad in The New York Times opposing the Obama’s [sic] stimulus plan. As chair of my department, I tried to arrange a public debate between one of the signatories and a proponent of fiscal stimulus — thinking that would be a timely and lively session. But the signatory, a fully accredited university macroeconomist, declined the opportunity for public defense of his position on the grounds that “all I know on this issue I got from Greg Mankiw’s blog; I really am not equipped to debate this with anyone.”

A fully accredited university macroeconomist is not equipped to debate the defining macroeconomic issue of our generation? Sad, but all too believable. Perhaps it’s time to rethink the necessary credentials.

--Justin Wolfers, Freakonomics blog, on my profession caught with its pants down


Various bloggers have quoted this story as evidence for the sad state of the economics profession. My interpretation is more benign: The chairman of the department asks a professor to do something, the professor is busy and doesn't really want to do it, so he blows off the chairman with a tongue-in-cheek quip.

--Greg Mankiw on a more charitable interpretation

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