February 19, 2016


Why are big-shot liberal economists hippie-punching Bernie Sanders? (Ryan Cooper, February 19, 2016, The Week)

Gerald Friedman, an economics professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, produced an analysis of Bernie Sanders' economic plan predicting eye-popping benefits from the candidate's program: 4.5 percent real GDP growth between 2016 and 2026, at which time median income would be $82,151 -- about $23,000 above the Congressional Budget Office baseline.

Reaction from the economics establishment was swift and vicious. Democratic Party heavy hitters -- Alan Krueger of Princeton, Austan Goolsbee of the University of Chicago, plus Christina Romer and Laura D'Andrea Tyson of Berkeley, all four former chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers -- put out an ex cathedra declaration that Friedman's paper was utterly beyond the pale of serious analysis.

Paul Krugman joined the dogpile, writing three consecutive posts ("Worried Wonks," "What Has the Wonks Worried," "Wonkery Has a Well-Known Liberal Bias," -- noticing a theme?) on how Friedman's paper was utterly preposterous, and demanding Sanders immediately denounce it. Brad DeLong was kinder, but still insisted that Friedman was enabling right-wing economic derp.

Ironically, in the frenzy to destroy Friedman's reputation, nobody actually explained in detail what the problems were with his paper. The CEA pronouncement had no data or economic argument at all -- it was 100 percent political handwringing. Krugman gave a very brief gloss suggesting that Sanders couldn't possibly get labor force participation back up to 1990s levels due to aging, and trying to do so would cause inflation. Kevin Drum gave a similar incredulous stare argument about worker productivity and GDP growth, pronouncing it "insane," worse than Republican "magic asterisks."

It's like Syria but in ivory towers.
Posted by at February 19, 2016 10:43 AM