Sunday, September 25, 2011

Bully for the Baltics?

Paul Krugman slaps down Tyler Cowen hard for repeatedly claiming that Ireland's recent performance is evidence against Keynesianism.  This is a followup to Brad Delong's similar complaints.  I don't notice any response from Cowan yet; normally, he is very quick to respond.

Very gratifying.  Tyler is brilliant, smug, and a leading Koch tool.  His job as an economist seems to be more to maintain a drumbeat of propaganda than to do any research of significance.  If anybody has any evidence of the significance of his work (such as status by numbers of citations) I'd be interested to hear it.

Take for example his latest book, "The Great Stagnation".  It is a classic example of lying with statistics.  Cowen claims that our innovation is stagnating because median GDP/capita is not increasing the way it used to.  But mean GDP/capita has been increasing steadily.  The difference is because increases in GDP over the past 30 years have gone almost exclusively to the rich.  This is clearly spelled out in There Is No Great Stagnation, Only Great Redistribution by Kindred Winecoff.  It is disgusting that Tyler relies on a trick that we teach students about in grade school (the difference between mean, median, and mode), and even more disgusting that so many people have considered his claims seriously instead of denouncing the trick.  Why would he do this?  Simple class warfare tactics: if you convince people that wealth is not there, instead of being redistributed to the rich, they will not be able to fight back.

Cowen generally adopts denialist tactics for economic positions his masters oppose; if you cannot refute it legitimately then spread fear, uncertainty, and doubt.  (FUD)

I follow Cowen's (and Tabarrok's) high-volume blog "Marginal Revolution" daily.  It's full of disgusting shout-outs to the libertarian faithful (such as "Markets in Everything") and links to the latest libertarian propaganda.  But some leads from there are very useful or interesting: Cowen is well characterized as an infovore and popularizer.  That's his good side.

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"
Upton Sinclair

Addendum: Tyler responds in The luck of the Irish.  In typical fashion, he moves the goalposts, and tries to make it a discussion of what Krugman predicted.  Instead of defending his own position about whether Ireland's recent performance is evidence against Keynesianism.  This may be good rhetorical strategy, but it is dishonest.  To distract from the dishonesty, Tyler makes a show of "honestly" admitting his own predictions were wrong too (after a whole post claiming Krugman's were wrong.)


Lord Keynes said...

Hi Mike,

I'm not sure if your email is working for me (it wasn't the last time I used it).

> "Economic calculation" is a
> Hayekian propaganda term which
> is supposed to describe what
> markets do, and not what
> governments do. ..etc.

Yes, absolutely. In fact, governments do a vast amount of planning/calculation, and they have access to information (say, from censuses, state and local government knowledge etc.) that private sector agents simply do not have access to.

> who is the term attributed to?

Regarding the expression "economic calculation", it was Mises who coined it, I think. It refers in fact to debates in the 1930s between Mises/Hayek and other neoclassicals and the Marxists. The economic calculation debate applies to communist systems without prices and where all production and consumption is planned centrally. Therefore when the vulgar Austrians wave that term around applying it to modern mixed economies, they are demonstrating utter ignorance.


Lord Keynes said...

One can see the appalling results of austerity in Ireland here:

Of the 14 quarters since 2008, they have had positive GDP growth in only 4.

2008-2009 was a full-blown, real depression for Ireland (meaning a downturn were real GDP fell by 10% or more).

Growth in 2010 was a joke. They are getting some growth now (as you would expect after such a severe contraction), but Ireland's unemployment is 14.5% and it will not make much of a dent in unemployment.

If this is supposed to be proof of
Ireland's "success", god knows what a failure would look like.

Ari said...

Markets in everything is not libertarian propaganda. Its basically news from different kind of markets to make reader think why these markets exist and should they exist.

Maybe you shouldn't read his blog like devil reads a Bible (I'm an atheist thank you).