Friday, July 2, 2010

Liberal Hack Economists Still MIA

The White House's take on today's unemployment figures (via Ezra Klein):
Today’s employment report shows continued signs of gradual labor market recovery.  Private nonfarm payroll employment increased by 83,000 in June and the unemployment rate fell two-tenths of a percentage point to 9.5%.  June marks the sixth month in a row that private sector employment has increased.  These continued signs of healing are important, particularly given the recent volatility in world markets and the mixed behavior of other recent economic indicators.  However, much stronger job gains are needed to repair the damage caused by the financial crisis and put the millions of unemployed Americans back to work.
That's Christina Rhomer, of the Council of Economic Advisers.  Glass half full, right?  I wouldn't go so far as to call it a full-out Rosy Scenario, but the focus here is on the positive side.  And, Klein reports, that does seem to be the White House message: "recent statements from and meetings with administration officials suggest that the White House's broad approach on the economy is to emphasize how much improvement there is, rather than how much needs to be done."

So what do liberal economists say?  I don't see anything yet on Paul Krugman's blog, but I think it's safe to say that he's not exactly been cheerleading on the economy.  Brad DeLong?
Obama should be saying that his policies have helped stop the economic decline. He should not be saying that the state of the business cycle is "improving." Even more so, he should not believe and act on a belief that the state of the business cycle is "improving." It ain't so.
Jonathan Cohn quotes Larry Mishel preaching doom and gloom.  Dean Baker (via Cohn)?
There is little basis for a hope of an improvement based on the establishment data...And there are no obvious candidates for improved growth any time soon...there is little hope for a robust growth any time soon.
Cohn says this seems to be "the consensus on the center left."   Sounds right to me.

My question, which I've asked before: where are the hack liberal economists?  One would think that there's a real market niche here that someone would fill.  I can think of two possible reasons that it's not happening..  Perhaps there is no such niche -- that is, there are few Democrats out there in the nation eager to buy the product of anyone basically cheerleading for the White House.  Or, perhaps the market exists, but liberal economists all have too much integrity to fill it, and insist on saying whatever they believe is true (or whatever they believe suits their policy goals), regardless of whether it rewards them with appearances on MSNBC talk shows and healthy book contracts.  I suppose it's also possible that the market exists but that liberal economists aren't smart enough to notice it.   I don't know; I just think that it's striking, and I don't think the same thing was true in 2001-2002 or in 2008, when it seems to me that there were plenty of conservative economists eager to echo White House happy talk.  (Although I'll admit I'm just working from memory here...anyone have citations one way or another?).  So I'll ask again: where are the hack liberal economists?


  1. It's an issue of integrity (mostly).

  2. It's all the Republican fault /sarc

  3. I think the liberal hack position is that the economy is always doing worse than it should be doing and the government needs to do more to encourage it. The conservative hack position is that the economy is always as doing as well as is possible and the government needs to stay out. It's up to the spin doctors to convert this ideological noise into pro-party messages.

    If you meant Democrat hacks instead of liberal hacks then I agree they don't exist. When the GOP is winning, there's much more agreement about economics than there is in the DNC when it's winning. That consensus falls apart a bit when the GOP is out of power, but it never exists for Democrats so left-wing economic analysis will always try to pull in one direction or another instead of saying that everything is going great and stay the course.

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  5. Deleted my last comment becuz I'm on half a cup of coffee and needed to restate something. Sorry.

    From day one every liberal "hack" economist from Atrios to Krugman to everyone else has said that the recovery act was not big enough, and was too watered down by failed Republican ideas like tax cuts. Even after watering down the legislation the Republicans still didn't vote for it so what was the point? The White House needed to go BIG and did not, the Democrats in Congress needed to go BIG and did not, and now those folksi are worried about the deficit when all the liberal hacks are saying no, the deficit is not the most critical problem, jobs are. Every liberal hack I know has said the policy has been bungled and we are likely going to face a double-dip recession. There will be no economy for years.

    There is no cheerleading on the left like you have with the right. When the Obama Administration has been wrong, as it has on many occasions, liberal hacks have been very vocal about it.

    So I'm voting for "there are few Democrats out there in the nation eager to buy the product of anyone basically cheerleading for the White House." The product the White House sold us was crafted under some silly jones for bipartisanship. Bipartisanship was deemed more important than crafting an effective policy. Yet that bipartisanship never happened.

    We were also told that this Recovery Act was just a "first step" and the liberal hacks all said, are you nuts? If this fails, and all indications are that it will (or at least not been as successful as the situation warranted), you won't GET a second chance. Seriously, who thinks Congress will vote for another stimulus spending package? With an election around the corner? Now, despite all evidence to the contrary, we're told deficits are the big issue.

    The other thing that infuriates me, and I imagine the liberal hacks, is this whole "we had no idea things were so bad" notion. We keep hearing that from the Obama Administration, it's become their version of "nobody could have anticipated" which we heard from the Bush years. I'm sorry but I knew things were that bad. Liberal bloggers I follow knew. Krugman knew. I live in Tennessee where we've had over 10% unemployment and you bet your dang bippy we knew. Everyone knows someone who's out of work and given up looking.

    For crying out loud if I knew how could they not know? I'm no freaking genius but I'm getting pretty dang sick of being smarter than the people in Washington and our glorious pundits in the media. It's like Saddam's WMD all over again. "We didn't know he didn't have WMD" .. are you freaking kidding me? If I knew how could you not know?


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