by Robert Waldmann
The relative rise of the Left peaks in 2009, with the passage of Obamacare and the stimulus. From that point on, the left wing, for better or worse, is a fundamentally conservative force in the intellectual arena. It becomes reactive and loses some of its previous creativity.Over those years, right wing thought, on the whole, became worse and more predictable and also less interesting. But excess predictability now has infected the left wing also. Attacking stupid ideas put forward by Republicans, whether or not you think that is desirable or necessary, has become their lazy man’s way forward and it is sapping their faculties.”
I’m pretty sure I shouldn’t comment on this one. I will mention in passing that I think Cowen is totally 10% completely wrong that right wing economists in the 70s and 80s were more more correct than the left. They were certainly more dynamic. I. will. not. go. there then.
But about now, I don’t really have a clue who Cowen is talking about (always click the link –Kevin Drum). Basically, I don’t know if he is talking about academic research or public intellectuals. Well to be honest, I am fairly confident he is talking about Krugman. In any case it’s what Krugman wrote about Krugman.
I should click the link, but I will consider both possibilities.
1. Academic economists: Here there is great ferment. There are two fields which aren’t going much of anywhere (macroeconomics and theory) [on both points those are my views but I am paraphrasing Andrei Shleifer].
There is a huge amount of new interesting work on applied microeconometrics — oh hell analyzing experiments and natural experiments. The most energetic participants in this effort are leftists. There is little sitting on laurels in ivy covered halls.
In contrast, as far as I know, academic macroeconomics hasn’t changed that much. The colossal failure of standard models (which are New Keynesian not the models developed by conservatives in the 80s) has had a small effect on the literature (as far as know and as I don’t click the links you may suspect I don’t keep up). The idea that it is best to assume that bubbles can’t happen remains dominant. I stress that this is assumed in almost all New Keynesian models. Something like,say, a housing bubble or a dot com bubble is barely allowed in academic macro modelling (AFAIK).
Despair is much more common than complacency.
2. Public intellectuals and activists and such are very far from complacent. I can think of only one place I read something vaguely arguably along the lines of “our work is mostly done”. It was here.
- What would Cowen write if you couldn’t think of any recent useful contribution to any discussion make by a conservative or libertarian?
- Would he write about how it wasn’t always that way and probably won’t be that way in the future?
- Is that what he just wrote ?
- Why else would he write what he just wrote ?
crossposted with Stochastic thoughts