Wednesday, November 17, 2010
I go with Krugman on this, and I think Brooks does have it backwards, although the tendency in general for economists to go overboard in their faith in models may cross the fresh water--salt water divide. I think that the economists who speak and write in languages primarily other than math will have the best perspectives. I take this position not because I'm anti-math (I'm not) nor because I'm not fluent in math (which is true: I'm not). No, I think that the danger arises from an inflated sense of certainty that the use of mathematical models may create. Keynes was a brilliant mathematician, but check out The General Theory: it's written in English. Ditto The Wealth of Nations. Also, the market (fresh water) economists seem most enamored by market models and models of rational man [sic]. No, I think that Brooks could write the same column even more accurately aimed at so-called conservative economists. For instance, those who predict the end of the world with QE2. No, I have to side with Krugman on this one, plus he has a well-honed argument that the stimulus simply wasn't large enough because Obama bowed too easily to Congressional skittishness.