27 Jul 2009

The Wenzel Wager: A Call for Disinterested Analysis

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In light of our recent wrestling match, I decided to look up the terms of the wager I had made with Robert Wenzel (see here and here). Back in January we agreed that the winner (someone who gets 2/3 or 3/3 out of the following) would get a dinner of up to $350 from the loser in the winner’s city of residence. The 3 conditions were:

* Murphy says CPI (not the “core” number) will rise by at least 8% during 2009; Wenzel says it won’t.

* Murphy says unemployment will be higher at end of 2009 than at start; Wenzel says no.

* Murphy says real GDP growth will be flat or negative for 2009; Wenzel says it will be positive.

I’m feeling great about the unemployment call, I’m optimistic about the CPI call, and I’m not at all confident about the real GDP call, especially because suppressed inflation numbers would artificially boost the official real GDP figures (which we have no choice but to use for our bet).

But here’s the problem: If you follow the links, and especially if you read other Wenzel posts from January, you’ll see that the reason he made the case for optimism (which prompted me to disagree and then our bet) was that M2 was growing at double-digit rates. Nowhere in our bet did we say “assuming Bernanke keeps up the money printing.”

So what do the judicious readers of Free Advice (both of you*) think? Do I give Wenzel the opportunity to cancel the wager since the basis for his views has now collapsed?

* I mean that only two readers are judicious; I have way more than two readers.

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