We Beat the Germans in 1918/And They’ve Hardly Bothered Us Since Then
Brad DeLong culls the comments to this post at Crooked Timber to produce a “with notably rare exceptions” Greatest Hits package—his second post riffing on the original—in honor of The Maestro continuing to attempt to improve the reputations of Paul Volcker and Ben Bernanke, if not G. William (“I ran a company, I didn’t need to know about Finance”) Miller.*
I point you to Dr. DeLong on the off chance that you didn’t read any of the other three (one by Henry, two by Brad) posts, while we all wait for Patrick or Jim MacDonald to continue the riff with more variations.
Economics question of the day: whose productivity will be greater: someone who reads all (now four, counting this one) posts, someone who starts with Dr. DeLong’s second, someone who starts with Dr. DeLong’s first, or someone who only read Henry Farrell’s original post but kept clicking back to see the newer comments?
Explain your answer in terms of the value-added of aggregators and/or hedonic pricing. Best answers will be forwarded to Bill Dudley, the current leader of the FRB of New York, on the off chance he ever agrees to speak in Queens again.
*I refuse to believe that Alan Greenspan is stupid enough to believe the things he’s saying now. Next thing you know, he’ll be claiming that his Ph.D. thesis was so perfect that no one should ever read it, lest they despair of following in his giant footsteps.
I am amazed that I didn’t think of the Tom Lehrer youtube. I am also a bit alarmed that you knew about something at Brad’s blog before I did.
So speaking of hedonic consequentialist utility and such, name the member of the Harvard math department who contributed the second most to human welfare (Lehrer sometime all but thesis grad student working on mathematical statistics was clearly, as he would say, an outlier).
Accepting the premise that Greenie doesn’t actually believe the things he is saying these days, what other motive might he have? Could be believe that his reputation will be improved by repeating earlier claims that have been proven to be wrong? I don’t think his reputation will be helped, but he may disagree. Assuming Greenspan both recognizes that the things he is saying are untrue and that he is not helping his reputation by repeating them, what other motive may he have? He’s a paid consultant and speechifyer these days. Is he being paid to say these things? Does he have a strong allegiance to people who want him to say these things – who might also pay him to say them?
I would never do the things Greenie is doing, but I would never become one of the most powerful men in the world, so there is reason to think my behavior and motives are not good guides to Greenspan’s behavior and motives.
Gecko’s “Greed is good.”
Many economists thought:
” thought it a crude expression of Adam Smith’s “Invisible Hand”—which is one of history’s great ideas. But in Smith’s vision, greed is socially beneficial only when properly harnessed and channeled. The necessary conditions include, among other things: appropriate incentives (for risk taking, etc.), effective competition, safeguards against exploitation of what economists call “asymmetric information” (as when a deceitful seller unloads junk on an unsuspecting buyer), regulators to enforce the rules and keep participants honest, and—when relevant—protection of taxpayers against pilferage or malfeasance by others. When these conditions fail to hold, greed is not good.”http://bubblemeter.blogspot.com/2010/01/adam-smiths-invisible-hand-in-context.html Bubblemeter; James on Alan Binder
With little benefit to Labor and consumers, greed is not good. Neither is an invisible hand which produces wealth without input from Labor and benefiting only those seek capital appreciation. This is what Greenspan is advocating again and what he rejected before.