Libertarian Economist Denounces Rescue Package, Admits He Doesn’t Know What He’s Talking About

A curious anecdote from UC Davis Economics Department Chair Greg Clark:

Recently a group of economists affiliated with the Cato Institute ran an ad in the New York Times opposing the Obama’s stimulus plan. As chair of my department I tried to arrange a public debate between one of the signatories and a proponent of fiscal stimulus — thinking that would be a timely and lively session. But the signatory, a fully accredited university macroeconomist, declined the opportunity for public defense of his position on the grounds that “all I know on this issue I got from Greg Mankiw’s blog — I really am not equipped to debate this with anyone.”


I would suggest that before signing any public statements about a significant policy issue you should at least read more than one blog. I’ve been following blogs by Mankiw, Brad DeLong, Paul Krugman, Mark Thoma, Tyler Cowen & Alex Tabbarok, Duncan Black, and Andrew Samwick all on at least a daily basis along with regular supplements from many other sources. Curiously, Mankiw won’t even say whether or not he believes the Obama recovery plan to be superior to the main Republican alternatives or to the alternative of doing nothing. I hypothesized once that his curious behavior was driven by a desire to be a useful GOP foot soldier without actually saying Obama’s plan is worse. Whether or not that’s his intention, he seems to be having that effect.