Noah Smith launched a completely unfair attack on Scott Sumner when he wrote:
…monetarists like Scott Sumner often spend a lot of time “punching hippies” on every issue other than monetary policy, trying to avoid being tarred as hippies themselves for their lack of fear of inflation. (Note to Sumner: This strategem has quite noticeably failed to convince most conservatives to support anything remotely resembling NGDP targeting.)
This quote epitomizes what I can’t stand about guys like Smith and DeLong. They are sarcastic and snarky and think they are in the “reality-based community” as opposed to us ideologues, and yet the quotation above is utterly divorced from reality.
Indeed, as Scott himself points out:
Yeah. That’s why I’ve advocated carbon taxes, universal health care, progressive taxes to redistribute income, drug legalization, more immigration, etc. I’m hoping to piss off all those hippies and win over the conservatives. (Memo to young bloggers–wait until you are at least 50 years old before trying to judge the motives of other bloggers.)
But the second statement is what really set me off. When I started blogging I had no expectation of having any impact at all. After all I’m at Bentley (which is a college, not a car.) I still don’t really know how much impact I’ve had, but no one can deny that NGDP targeting has become the hot idea in macro, with lots of supporters on both the left and the right. I’ve recently done not one but two NGDP targeting papers for the Koch-funded Mercatus Center (the 2nd on NGDP futures is coming out very soon), and you see lots of conservative journalists jumping on the NGDP targeting bandwagon. I’ve also done pieces for Cato, AEI, the Adam Smith Institute, etc. Yes, I’ve failed to convince Taylor, Feldstein, and Meltzer, but I’m seeing lots of interest from younger academics. Noah Smith should check out my email inbox.
It’s clear to me that old monetarism is dying. It might be replaced by Austrianism, but I believe that bright young conservative academics will find market monetarism to be more appealing.
Exactly right. In fact, I’ve been surprised at just how willing the supposedly conservative sites are to embrace Scott’s viewpoints, when the only “conservative” thing I see him doing is frequently quote Milton Friedman. I mean, the guy wants to help the people in Bangladesh, for crying out loud–does Larry Kudlow know that?!
So no, Noah, you are totally wrong. In my view, Scott is the #1 threat to hard money and the Austrian perspective (since the people who might go Austrian aren’t going to be seduced by standard Keynesians). And what makes that fact all the more surprising, is that he is such an interventionist on so many other topics, that I can’t believe he’s so big among people with a knee-jerk faith in free markets.
There ya go, Scott, who’s your buddy? I’ve got your back against these young punk Keynesian bloggers.