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July 18, 2007

Comments

rick

I think he is saying the Times filters their views on economic matters through an ideological prism.

Dan Chituc

I would actually assume that their economic beliefs determine their political leanings. In the simplest example, if you're a world class economist and your studies have lead you to think a social safety net and government regulation are key to economic success you'll lean towards the side that supports those goals (left), while if you've determined low taxes and free markets are ideal, you'll lean right to support your goals.

Whether ideology drives the economic beliefs, or the other way around, the end result is that there is a strong correlation between the two, and since neither viewpoint is clearly superior there is value in representing both.

Nelson Chung

Who is the glaring exception he's talking about.

Nelson Chung

?

No MA

i think rick is correct...

Gabriel

Of course ideology matters.

Prof. Rodrik's early posts have been met in a rather ideological manner by some (including myself, I'm sorry to report), so he should know all about the interplay of ideology and public discourse in blogs (and beyond, in papers, journals, etc.).

Everything aside, policy prescriptions are politics. Calling for a carbon tax or industrial policy or privatization are all politics. So it shouldn't surprise us when they're treated as such (including by political opponents).

patoche

Lester Thurow, aye?

Geoff Manne

I must concur: Mankiw's comment is meant to impugn the Times, not the economists (including himself) identified as having a particular slant. Or put another way: You know what Mankiw means when he suggests that some economists have a political orientation. I would guess that you even performed his suggested calculation in your head. Whether economists should be associated with a political viewpoint or not is beside the point. In actuality, Mankiw is suggesting, the Times used their perception of the political proclivities of these economists in selecting the make-up of the group. I think that is pretty much beyond debate given the make-up of this group. (Alternatively: If this group was picked at random, the "free-market fundamentalists" can hardly be said to dominate the field).

Kimmitt

Mankiw's comment is, in fact, meant to impugn the Times, but it ends up being an attack on himself, as it implies that he views ideology as the alpha and omega of an economist's value as a commentator. A fact which I buy.

Patrick R. Sullivan

'Lester Thurow, aye?'

Like a sore thumb.

robertdfeinman

Now pretend the Times had a column on physics instead. Would anyone ask about the political leanings of the author? Is there a rightwing physics or a leftwing one?

That an economist's political outlook is relevant is more of a condemnation of economics than of the Times.

Perhaps economics is really neutral, but many economists, when they join the public sphere, reach beyond their actual area of expertise and misuse their authority to promote a political agenda.

In fact the Times is actually soliciting this type of column (sells more papers). It's why they have columnists like Brooks and Friedman. Measured writers instead of flame-throwers wouldn't make for as lively a discussion.

Some economists may slant the data inadvertently to boost their case, but the conservative ones seem much more likely to be doing this deliberately. I won't mention any names...

RS

The question is meant to provoke thoughtful discussion, not to "impugn" the Times. This is obvious to anyone who doesn't assume bad faith on the part of Mankiw, particularly in light of the fact that the Times just asked him to sign on as one of the columnists.

I say this, by the way, as someone who worked for The New York Times in a very junior capacity, and who knows some of the personalities involved.

A reader

The comment doesn't impugn either The Times nor the economics profession. Every public economic debate is informed by theory, but ultimately every debate is about choices that we, as individuals living in a society, have to make. Rightist and leftist have different ideas about what we should pursue as a society, even if a (mainstream) rightist and a leftist economist would agree that supply and demand govern most of the economic phenomena.

paine

i wish i had this view:

"since neither viewpoint is clearly superior there is value in representing both "

instead
i feel like
Balaam's ass

Student

Wait, why Thurow?

It couldn't be Mankiw because he gave Prof.Rodrik some nice advertising when he began this blog, and the rest of the list is made up of people who are either not very controversial(Chevalier and Shiller), sympathetic to raising concerns about the mainstream consensus like Prof.Rodrik(Blinder), of a similar political persuasion as the professor(Frank and Goolsbee), or very reasonable left of center(Varian) or right of center(Cowen) individuals.

So I repeat my question, why Thurow or whoever it is?

paine

buridan vs balaam

battle of the asses

btw
i like Lester T
or at least the young lester T

THE OLD GUY
just wear your sandpaper gloves as you grab at his stuff
but
as to reading Ty Cowen
i'd rather eat
rotten eggs

wjd123

Why Thurow? Because he is the only economist mentioned whose column I'm eager to read.

hari

American economists have become bean counters perhaps to secure jobs in future WH or whatnots. At any rate, for me only political economy counts, since economics not a science - like physics.
The more one reads "left-right" blogs, it becomes explicit that most of them are misusing data for political purpose or ideological gumption.
There used to be a period, in US, when facts were separated from opinion.
Not any more....

Justin

Mankiw is off his rocker. There's nobody on the "left" in that NYT roster. Nobody in the rest of the world considers the Democratic Party to be on the "left," which just goes to show how ridiculously narrow the U.S. political spectrum is.

As a Republican, Mankiw ought to be delighted with the narrowness of the spectrum.

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