Economics, Literature and Scepticism

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I am a PhD student in Economics. I am originally from South Africa and plan to return there after my PhD. I completed my M. Comm in Economics and my MA In Creative Writing (Poetry) at the University of Cape Town, where I worked as a lecturer before starting my PhD.

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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Brad de Long is cool

Posted by Simon Halliday | Tuesday, July 15, 2008 | Category: , |

is fantastic. And not only because of his considered opinion on economic forces, such as this recent comment on McCain's proposed policies.

Reasons I like BDL:
  1. He reads science fiction and fantasy.
  2. He has rules on watching Star Wars.
  3. He gets invited to talk shows with random conservatives and has to yell about it (though he hates yelling).
  4. His comments on the Death Spiral of the media (Economist, NYT, WSJ...).
  5. His tireless work against torture by the US government.
  6. He has lectures available online.
  7. He supports Barack Obama.
  8. He'd like the republicans to get better candidates.
  9. He teaches economic history.
  10. Oh yes... of course, he's a good macroeconomist. One forgets amidst all the cool.
Anyway, have a look at this video of an interview with BDL:

He quotes Spiderman... so cool.

Other facts: he is a professor of Economics at UC Berkeley, he used to think of himself as a 'bipartisan centrist', (along with Paul Krugman) not so much any more (for either of them), he has written numerous brilliant articles (see this for a comment on human felicity) and some good textbooks (I have his Macro text).

Currently have 5 comments:

  1. Yo Si. I was interested by your reference to a Death Spiral of the media. Have the publications you refer to become unreliable? Which, if any, economic publications would you recommend to a non-specialist like me (who hasn't considered economic theory in depth since 2003)?

  2. Al, Brad DeLong has an ongoing critique of the media which falls into his 'Death Spiral' category. He dislikes the Economist, as it is particularly one-sided and often has poor reporting. He believes, and argues well, that the WSJ is really going down the tubes, as are several writers for the NYT. He also discusses poor reporting in TNR. This does not imply that everything in all the publications is poor, just that he has the ability to sift out the wheat from the chaff when it comes to a large amount of the reporting in the papers. It really helps me as a continual student of the media, hot to engage critically with what they are saying. A large amount of my reading these days comes from blogs and academic papers. I generally find that the blogs of professional economists provide me with a better insight than that which I had received previously from news media - hence Brad DeLong, Greg Mankiw, Marginal Revolution, Economist's View and others are what I generally read. They don't really need you to have a great knowledge of economic theory as they often explain critical concepts. Hope this helps.

    All I really use the news media for these days is, literally, news, rather than critique.

  3. BDL spoke a lot about his experiences in the Clinton administration, particularly the Conservative revolution (with a small 'r')of the Newt Gingrich-led Congress from 1994.

    However, there was little reference to today. Is the dominance of partisanship still a relevant force in the politics of America at the moment, given that they are on the cusp of a new presidential cycle? Certainly the Bush years were an extension of the 'revolution', but hopefully that is changing.

    Consider McCain and Obama - two centrists with a history of bipartisan co-operation and whose message of reaching out to the other side is crucial to their respective campaigns.

    I also liked the section on Greenspan. It is a supreme irony that somebody with such libertarian instincts (he was an acolyte of Ayn Rand's) would go on to control the closest thing to the world's central economic command HQ. The fact that he did so for 18 years is unbelievable.

  4. I think that one of the central differences between Obama and McCain (in terms of my shallow knowledge) is picked up on by BDL. He comments on how, if a congressperson tries to create a bipartisan partnership, it almost inevitably ends up being built up from the right towards the centre, rather than from the centre out. McCain builds from the right in, Obama from the centre out. At least according to what I have read.

  5. Wait, I just realised my wife was logged on to the desktop, so I commented as if I was her. LOL.