11 Apr 2012

Everyone On the Internet Thinks I’m Hilarious

Economics, Federal Reserve 21 Comments

Or at least, of the people who are my Facebook friends, that is the overwhelming consensus.

In related news, here are “4 Politically Controversial Issues Where All Economists Agree” (actual title), which I got from an enthusiastic link from Daniel Kuehn. Here are the four issues, as the blogger (Adam Ozimek) titles the sections–and I’m assuming he wrote the section headers, as opposed to The Atlantic editor who presumably chose the absurd article title:

#1. The benefits of free trade and NAFTA far outweigh the costs
#2. Government policies don’t explain high gas prices
#3. The Stimulus and Bailouts Lowered the Unemployment Rate
#4. The Gold Standard is a Terrible Idea

(Note that all English professors agree, your section titles should be consistently capitalized.)

Obviously you can always find some nutjob in a field who will disagree with what everybody else thinks is foundational to the discipline. If #1 didn’t mention NAFTA (which was a several-hundred-page document and thus hardly just a free trade pact), then I would agree it should be in the list.

However, #2 is more controversial, especially without being very specific about what “explain” and “high” mean, and also whether the Fed is included in “Government policies.”

#3 is actually rejected by some prominent Chicago School economists, isn’t it? What the heck is that doing on the list?

And #4 is where my selection bias comes in. I personally know at least 30 PhDs who would reject #4, and it wouldn’t surprise me if there were at least 250 of them teaching in the US and Europe at accredited institutions. (Note they didn’t simply say, “Going to the gold standard would be bad.” No, they said it is a terrible idea.) But admittedly, I hang out with oddballs and I don’t have an objective feel for what “the profession” thinks of the gold standard.

21 Responses to “Everyone On the Internet Thinks I’m Hilarious”

  1. Daniel Kuehn says:

    That Kuehn guy can be a real pain sometimes.

    And yes – I definitely agree “all” was poorly chosen, whoever chose it.

  2. Joseph Fetz says:

    Let me guess, another joke bit the internet-medium dust?

  3. Gee says:

    Wait, weren’t you asked to testify before Congress once? Doesn’t that officially make you an economist?

  4. jjoxman says:

    I’m not clear. If I disagree with some of these, does that disqualify my doctorate?

  5. Richard Moss says:

    Regarding the gold standard, if you follow the link in the article to the actual responses of the economists polled, I think the conclusion that they all think it is a terrible idea is a bit overstated. (Then again, I have selection bias as well).

    At least a couple didn’t answer the question one way or the other, and couple others, although against it, did recognize it had redeeming qualities (pun intended).

    To be sure, more comments were thoroughly dismissive of it. (My favorite being Goolsbee’s “eesh. Has it come to this?” Well, yeah. And you wonder why?)

    • LvM says:

      William Nordhaus seems to think it is terrible: (Question A) “Strongly Disagree. This proposal makes no sense in the modern world. Just look at the Eurozone to see the consequences.”

      Did I miss something?

  6. Adam Ozimek says:

    I subscribe to a heterodox school of grammar that emphasizes idiosyncratic fluctuations in capitalization, so you’ll have to forgive me.

    You’re right though that I did not title the piece, and I was careful not to claim you and your heterodox ilk do not exist. The fact that even you don’t have a feel for what “the profession” thinks of the gold standard shows how useful pointing out the IGM panel results are.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Adam Ozimek wrote:

      I subscribe to a heterodox school of grammar that emphasizes idiosyncratic fluctuations in capitalization, so you’ll have to forgive me.

      I forgive you, but only because of the first part of your sentence here.

  7. David R. Henderson says:

    Adam Ozimek doesn’t do nuance, does he?

    • jjoxman says:

      That was my impression. Especially on the gold standard question. Does he think every economist thinks the gold standard is what prevailed in the interwar years?

      And then #3 just made me laugh my head off.

    • Adam Ozimek says:


      Are you saying that because of my section headers or because of the full content of my post? Because it’s hard to do nuance in section headers, and I think I was pretty nuanced in my post. For instance I pointed out that trade creates winners and losers, and that one can accept that stimulus lowered unemployment but still believe it doesn’t pass cost benefit.

      If my discussion of the gold standard appeared to lack nuance it wasn’t an accident. It is an idea whose popular perception is disproportionately positive relative to the consideration it is given by the field, and the public should understand it as an issue that most economists don’t consider a serious hypothesis.

      I do do nuance, but only where it is merited.

      (Sorry, Bob)

      • Major_Freedom says:

        For instance I pointed out that trade creates winners and losers

        Well that just proved to me you’re clueless.

        • skylien says:

          From my point of view everyone who trades with me is a loser. I really can’t understand why they keep doing it…

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Don’t worry Adam you’re not offending me. You know that scene in Return of the Jedi when Boba Fett gives the head-nod to the bounty hunter who is Jabba’s kind of scum? That’s you and me.

        • Adam Ozimek says:

          Haha that’s great. I can definitely live with that.

      • David R. Henderson says:

        Sorry, Adam. I’ve been busy teaching and just noticed your response. No, the lack of nuance was not mainly in your section headers but mainly in your title. Simply changing one word, “all” to “most,” would have done it.

        • Adam Ozimek says:


          Bob’s guess was correct, I did not title the article. If you read the article you will see I am careful to avoid referring to “all” economists or “none” unless I specifically state I’m talking about the sample of economists surveyed.


          • Bob Murphy says:

            Just to reiterate Adam, I am not out to get you. In fact, when the revolution comes, I will insist that your life be spared, and that you merely receive house imprisonment for your collaboration with the regime.

          • David R. Henderson says:

            In that case, my apologies. This is an especially bad mistake for me to make, given that I have titled only about 5 of my last few hundred articles.

            • David R. Henderson says:

              Oops. That sounded braggy. I didn’t mean it that way. My “last few hundred” makes it sound as if I’ve written way more. I’ve written 200 to 300 and been able to title only about 5 of them.

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