Sunday, October 11, 2009

When an Economist Loses His Edge

It's not too common, but it happens. Economists that once made important contributions to the field and that suddenly lose their economic sense (almost always due to involvement in partisan politicking), contributing heavily for the denigration of the science. Krugman is the latest example of this phenomenon. Taylor explains it in this post, here's a passage:

The [Fed] meeting demonstrated how completely wrong Paul Krugman is about recent developments in economics, at least as he portrayed the subject in the New York Times Magazine last month. This was not an all efficient markets meeting. The talk from start to finish was about the market imperfections, price rigidities, deadweight losses due to market power, and imperfect information, which all occur in monetary economics. If anything there was too much focus on market distortions. Overall I saw tremendous progress documented at the meeting. ...

But if there has been so much progress in monetary economics, then why did we have the financial crisis? I argued that it was the policy, not the economics, which got off track. When the policy implications of the research were followed by policy makers, we had good economic performance, as in the period called the Great Moderation. When policy got off track, the Great Moderation ended in the financial crisis and Great Recession. I am hoping that policy will get on track again and we will have Great Moderation II.

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