Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman school Tyler Cowen

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There is a huge demand for rebuttals to Keynesian arguments about how to fix the economy. Anti-government right-wingers and libertarians oppose Keynesian interventions, and they have vast wads of money to throw at such issues.

Tyler Cowen, at the George Mason University Economics Department, is employed by the Kochs for just that purpose. Apparently, one of his jobs is to undermine rival economists' arguments.

Now, it is well known that no economics model is perfect, and it is easy to assemble a list of problems and a list of people describing those problems. But the fallacy is to use this list to denounce an imperfect model in favor of worse models or none. Voltaire wrote "the perfect is the enemy of the good", meaning that we should not discard effective solutions for pie-in-the-sky perfectionism.

DeLong and Krugman explain why Cowen's criticisms are foolish even if true -- because there is no real substitute for starting with IS-LM. This is an argument between applied economics on the Krugman and DeLong side and theoretic wishful thinking motivated by ideology on Cowen's side.

It is interesting to note Cowen's typical strategy, which like most public relations strategies is not aimed at "proof" but at convincing onlookers with incessant repetition of ideas such as "problems with IS-LM". Cowen throws a bombshell, and then cites one vaguely similar viewpoint after another without answering any questions about how they relate to the original argument or explaining his own position at any point. A ploy to attempt to retain academic credibility in the midst of vigorous dog-whistling. He wishes to use his academic authority without being responsible to the academic community.

From the standpoint of reasonable argument, it looks as if Krugman and DeLong win. You can identify that even without any understanding of economics simply by the fact that Cowen never addresses any of their points directly, never cites what they actually said, and doesn't have his own coherent answer. Few people notice these tactics.

From a public relations standpoint, it looks as if Cowen has won. He has achieved his goal of repeating his memes numerous times and showing that other academics make somewhat similar criticisms. Basically, this is a variant of the tarbaby strategy from Uncle Remus. Trick your opponent into a fight with a tarbaby. The opponent may get in all the good licks and totally destroy the tarbaby, but afterwards is exhausted and coated with goo. The rabbit that set up the tarbaby is untouched and laughing.

Links

Why I do not like the IS-LM model [More...]
Tyler Cowen criticizes IS-LM to undermine rival economists' arguments. Despite the fact of the excellent track record of IS-LM, which he ignores.
The Tribal Dislike of John Hicks and IS-LM: History of Economic Thought Edition [More...]
Brad DeLong identifies Tyler Cowen's criticisms as signalling to his "tribe", "as a mark of social identity rather than analysis". Then he points out that Tyler's alternatives are very poor.
Tis The Gift To Be Simple [More...]
Paul Krugman says Brad Delong was not harsh enough in his criticism, that Tyler Cowen and his ilk make serious errors when they attempt alternatives to IS-LM.
Putting the IS-LM debate in context [More...]
Tyler Cowen attempts to show other members of his tribe agree with him.
Yet More Rites of Tribal Solidarity Among the Right-Wing Economists [More...]
Brad Delong ridicules Tyler Cowen's attempts to hide behind "the very strange Stephen Williamson".
Matt Rognile does not like the LM curve (nor does David Romer) [More...]
Tyler Cowen attempts to show non-members of his tribe agree with him.
Ah Yes, LM (Wonkish) [More...]
Paul Krugman asks "why can’t we walk and chew gum at the same time?" when Tyler Cowen attempts to hide behind MIT graduate student Matt Rognile.
Scott Sumner on IS-LM [More...]
Tyler Cowen cites Scott Sumner in his favor.
IS-LM Watch: In the Country of the One-Eyed, the Self-Blinded Man Is in Bad Shape, or Something Department [More...]
Brad DeLong points out that Scott Sumner and Matt Rognlie are reduced to spouting absurdities because they do not face up to IS-LM.
IS-LM Watch: Smart Words from Karl Smith [More...]
(Technical.) Brad DeLong applies IS-LM to current events.
IS-LM Watch: Three Ways of Looking at a (Closed-Economy) IS Curve: Karl Smith Raises My intelligence Department [More...]
(Technical.) Brad Delong explains modification of IS-LM.
IS-LMentary [More...]
Paul Krugman explains (non-technically) the basic ideas and uses of IS-LM modeling, how it avoids numerous simple errors.
From the comments, on Sims and IS-LM [More...]
Tyler Cowen brings up another old paper complaining about IS-LM, but not providing any sort of replacement.
Why Believe In Keynesian Models? [More...]
Paul Krugman describes why he thinks Keynesian models have been successful.
IS-LM Keynesianism, why not and which alternatives? [More...]
Tyler Cowen suggests a handwaving combination of 4 different schools as his imaginary substitute for IS-LM.


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