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.
Marginal Revolution has some interesting stuff, and Cowen is an eclectic and discerning reader. I can only claim to have read Winston's War by Max Hastings, which I found excellent. Some of the others I've read reviews of, and they sound very good. I love a good book list!