Your Worst Nightmare...Allan Meltzer

Posted by: Tom Keene on November 3, 2011

A legitimate academic study of economics must include a critical discussion of both the benefits and flaws of different economic simplifying models. As your class does not include primary sources and rarely features articles from academic journals, we have very little access to alternative approaches to economics. There is no justification for presenting Adam Smith’s economic theories as more fundamental or basic than, for example, Keynesian theory.

Concerned Students of Economics 10, Harvard Political Review

They walked out on Mankiw at Harvard.

Background: Feldstein handed Mankiw EC 10 and Harvard and the known economics world rejoiced. Various and sundry elite students get to wander through various puff-ball courses (these elite are all way smart) but, they peer around the door with appropriate 1590-SAT-trepidation at confronting the terror that is basic Harvard intro-economics.

The above rant is from a modestly cogent letter by the aggrieved. There is value in their protest as there is in each and every Occupy Your Hamlet.

The distinctions are too many to mention.

1) Start fair beleaguered at Littauer 127, where the Maier Professor of Common Sense holds court. You doth protest…too busy to see one Friedman? (No, not evil Milton of Chicago!) Attempt The Moral Consequences of Mankiw’s Nominal GDP to gain less “simplifying models.”

2) Let’s transfer! Heaven forbid, leave Roland Fryer and attend a PUBLICK institution. Go West young protesters, and consider the “alternative approaches” of Berkeley-centered DeLong or Obtsfeld. Math-Alert! (Memo: Varian is too much work, think Brin & Zuckerberg, and Eichengreen would just growl at you.)

Avoid Stanford at all costs.

3) Back to 02138: “fundamental or basic,” you get to play chess at Littauer 126 (across the abyss from Benjamin Friedman!) with the Cabot professor. Rogoff will de-fang you.

Are you kidding me? Short of Lit Crit 403 - Thorstein Bunde Veblen as Proletariat, consider the distance from 1776 to 1936 as preparation for the grand protest of Solow’s 1957 bombshell. (This occurred at a liberal institution of “illegitimate study” downriver from EC 10.)

Enough. Economics protests your protest. The revered, Left-Reverend Krugman considers a return to Cambridge (upriver.) Buiter of incarnate Citigroup may come out of retirement to pound EC 10 LSE-version into you.

Or, you could face the fearsome wrath of the fresh-water pond. Embarrass Mankiw, embarrass Feldstein, embarrass Schumpeter, embarrass Taussig and you may confront your worst nightmare…Allan Meltzer. Discuss.

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EconoChat captures Tom Keene's thoughts on economics, finance and investment. He is editor-at-large for Bloomberg News and hosts Bloomberg Surveillance and Bloomberg on the Economy on NYC1130, Sirius 129 and XM 130 and Surveillance Midday on Bloomberg Television. His complete interviews are at Tom Keene on Demand. Look for Tom on twitter @tomkeene

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