On Oct. 3 I posted a piece that pointed out the similarities between my proposal for public banking and Andrew Feldstein’s. Not only was the general idea roughly the same, we both proposed the same figure for initial capitalization, $300B. Since my proposal appeared three days earlier, I harbored suspicions. I couldn’t find contact information for Feldstein, so I posted my doubts on the website of Joe Nocera, the New York Times columnist who was the source for AF’s proposal. After waiting for two days and not seeing any response, I went public about my suspicions here. I tried to make it clear that I had nothing to go on but coincidence, but in retrospect my writing could be interpreted as leaving a different impression.
What I’ve learned since: (1) Nocera and the Times are justifiably concerned about apparent accusations of plagiarism against one of their quoted sources. (I was contacted today.) (2) Feldstein privately communicated his proposal to Nocera on the same day I posted mine three minutes earlier. Talk about an idea being in the air!
So to set the record straight: the similarity and simultaneity of Andrew Feldstein’s suggestion and mine are entirely and remarkably coincidental. Whatever the truth content of my philosophical musings on the difference between academic and commercial conceptions of intellectual property, they do not apply in any way to this particular episode. And if Feldstein’s investment strategies are as farsighted as his policy proposals, you might want to take a look at his hedge fund.