Sunday, June 3, 2012

John Cochrane Admits to Being Lazy

John Cochrane launched what appears at first to be a critique of Paul Krugman. Among the things that Cochrane insists economists do:
Economists should focus on the things they know something about ... More deeply, seeing some people as good and others as evil really is not that useful as social science or as a contribution to policy debate ... Economic analysis is more believable when it is non-partisan ... And economists should insist on precise language.
This is all a setup for his critique of this Krugman column:
in his exalted opinion New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is a "big fiscal phony," that Congressman Paul Ryan and candiate Mitt Romney are "fakers," who are "willing to snatch food from the mouths of babes (literally, via cuts [sic] in crucial nutritional aid programs)," all to serve the dark conspiratorial interests of their "financial backers." This column illustrates just about every desirable principle by embodying its opposite.
I guess this from Krugman offended Cochrane:
Mr. Ryan has somehow acquired a reputation as a stern fiscal hawk despite offering budget proposals that, far from being focused on deficit reduction, are mainly about cutting taxes for the rich while slashing aid to the poor and unlucky. In fact, once you strip out Mr. Ryan’s “magic asterisks” — claims that he will somehow increase revenues and cut spending in ways that he refuses to specify — what you’re left with are plans that would increase, not reduce, federal debt.
Maybe Cochrane missed the previous Krugman posts as well as other non-partisan reviews of Ryan’s budget which did fail to identify how his plan would somehow magically slash spending or find offsets to those tax cuts. And Cochrane insisted that we economists focus on the things they know about? But check out the comments section when a reader called him on this and you will see Cochrane writing:
On Ryan, I try to criticize things I actually read. I haven't criticized either budget because I haven't read them.
Really? Well those of us who dare to criticize Ryan on his magic asterisk budget have read it. So what Cochrane ultimately shows is that he is too lazy to research a topic before he offers his uninformed perspective. I guess the old motto “practice what you preach” applies here.


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