Thursday, March 5, 2009
Is Brad DeLong Going To The US Treasury?
If one visits Brad DeLong's blog, one will find photos he took on Monday while visiting the US Treasury in Washington, including one of his nose, :-). Brad was a Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the early years of the Clinton administration. He was also a student of Larry Summers at Harvard and his most famous papers were coauthored with Summers. Summers was reportedly the person who brought him to Treasury under Clinton, and is now reportedly the top adviser to Obama, with Geithner as Treasury Secretary also a protege and presumably knowing DeLong quite well. All of the positions just below the Secretary level are unfilled, with no public reports of who the candidates are: Deputy plus the Undersecretary and Assistant Secretary positions. All this rather looks to me like Brad may well be a candidate for one of these. Of course, if he takes one, that will probably mean at least a temporary end to his widely read blog.
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Brad de Long didn't respond to the inherent environmental contradictions implicit in his economic writing. When I and others pointed them out. So I stopped reading his blog.
Perhaps that's what comes when you work for the Treasury. Nothing in that bureaucracy prompts a bureaucrat there to make the link between finance, money and the real (physical) world.
Brad really is what some would call a sensible centrist and would fit in quite well with the cautious Summers/Geithner team.
It was just the outright mendacity of the Bush regime and its sycophants over the war and everything else that led him to invent the Order of the Shrill. And then the Woo Torture memo sent him over the edge.
I expect both he and Krugman to revert more to the mean. It was nice to have their help in the anti-Bush pushback, just as the Soviets were very happy to have aid from the U.S. in WWII. But no one should expect that these guys are just going to join the Social Democratically inclined with a chorus of 'Kumbaya'. Just because they have rejected Voodoo Economics doesn't mean they are going to become true believers.
That is where I see an economic world fundamentally shaped by pricing power (coercive or otherwise), I believe they still are convinced that absent certain abuses that the Invisible Hand is still operating.
I will note one interesting aspect of Brad DeLong. I do not spend much time in the world of internet lists anymore, as I once did, but I used to be a regular on Michael Perelman's worthy, and still functioning, pen-l, as well as Doug Henwood's too-lively lbo-talk, along with occasionally some even further out. Brad DeLong used to hang out on some of those, especially Henwood's list, where I think he always respected Doug's data wonkiness. Brad was probably the most conservative person participating there.
He has strong views about things, and is quite willing to come down hard on those to the left of him, even as he is often willing to engage them in serious debate, including on their own turf. Brenda is right that his views on environmental and ecological issues are very mainstream and conventional. They are not at the top of the priority list for this economic historian and macroeconomist.
He has sometimes been accused of being not as willing to accommodate critics on his blog as some others. He got a reputation for awhile as one who would very frequently delete comments there, more than most bloggers, although I have heard fewer complaints about that recently. Awhile ago he put up a post with his own rules and practices, inviting people to comment, and he got a lot of heat for his propensity to delete (although, of course, Mankiw does not even allow comments at all). In any case, he may have eased up some in response to that outpouring.
He is certainly a knowledgeable and interesting guy, whatever one thinks of his particular views or how he handles his blog. Could do worse at Treasury, although I might prefer some others, but then I would prefer some others to Larry Summers being the #1 adviser to Obama.
Is it 'mainstream' and 'conventional' to refuse to respond to the obvious flaws in economic theory/ideology as they relate to the physical world. When someone makes a serious effort to point them out?
Anyone who behaves like that should not hold a position of authority in any public office. Because it is a simple refusal to be accountable for words and actions when you've been placed in a position of trust.
It's extremely worrying that Obama has appointed the very people that played a major part in directing the globe into abrupt and very dangerous climate change.
Treasury folk may pretend they can't see the link between finance and trade policies that prompted environmental rape in one country after another; but what serious observer are they fooling?
I have no doubt that Mr de Long is 'knowledgeable'. That quality in isolation, however, doesn't go very far.
cautious Summers/Geithner team...
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