The Fed Has Lost It; Publishes Essay Bashing Bloggers, Tells General Public To Broadly Ignore Those Without An Econ PhD

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Some Fed economist
(with a hard-earned Ph.D mind you) named Kartik Athreya (who lasted
at Citigroup as an associate Vice President for a whopping 7 months
before
getting sacked in 1998
only to find solace for his expiring
unemployment benefits in the public sector) has written the most
idiotic "research" piece to come out of the Federal Reserve
since 1913, and the Fed has written a lot of idiotic research since
then – after all you don’t destroy 98% of the dollar’s purchasing
power in 97 years with non-idiotic research. But this just takes
the cake. In "Economics is Hard. Don’t Let Bloggers Tell
You Otherwise" Kartik says: "I argue that neither non-economist
bloggers, nor economists who portray economics – especially
macroeconomic policy – as a simple enterprise with clear conclusions,
are likely to contribute any insight to discussion of economics
and, as a result, should be ignored by an open-minded lay public."
Alas, all Kartik achieves is to convince the general public that
feeding Fed "economists" alcohol after midnight and letting
them directly upload their resultant gibberish to the Fed’s broad
RSS feed the second they think they have a coherent thought , is
generally a disastrous idea. In his piece, which has no other intention
than to discredit and outright malign bloggers such as Matt Yglesias,
John Stossel, Robert Samuelson, and Robert Reich, Athreya says:
"In what follows I will argue that it is exceedingly unlikely
that these authors have anything interesting to say about economic
policy. This sounds mean-spirited, but it’s not meant to be,
and I’ll explain why." Instead in what follows, the Fed
presents 4 pages of thoughts so meandering, that the author’s blood
alcohol level must have certainly been well above the legal norm
for the duration of the writing of this ad hominem pamphlet.

Amusingly,
the Fed shows that it also enjoys cannibalizing its own most vocal
defenders:

The list
of those exhibiting this zest also includes, in addition to those
mentioned above, some who might know better. They are the patron
saints of the “Macroeconomic Policy is Easy: Only Idiots
Don’t Think So” movement: Paul Krugman and Brad Delong.
Either of these men will assure their readers that it’s all
really very simple (and may even be found in Keynes’ writings).
Lastly, before you dismiss me as a right- or left-winger, I am
not. I’m simply less comfortable with ex cathedra pronouncements
and speculations than the people I have named. (Somewhat strangely,
in an earlier era Paul Krugman very effectively took the same
sort of “accidental theorist” to task, so what I’m
saying is really a bit of a rehash of his arguments.)

Here are some
of the pearls of wisdom contained in this stunning paper:

  • Before
    I continue, here’s who I am: The relevant fact is that I
    work as a rank-and-file PhD economist operating within a central
    banking system. I have contributed no earth-shaking ideas to Economics
    and work fundamentally as a worker bee chipping away with known
    tools at portions of larger problems.
  • Why should
    anyone accept uncritically that Economics, or any field of human
    endeavor, for that matter, should be easy either to process or
    contribute to? To some extent, people don’t. Would anyone
    tolerate the equivalent level of public discussion on cancer research?
    Most of us readily accept the proposition that Oncology requires
    training, and rarely give time over to non-medical-professionals’
    musings. Do we expect advances in cell-biology to be immediately
    accessible to anyone with even a college degree? Science journalists
    routinely cite specific studies that have appeared in specific
    journals. They generally do not engage in passing their own untrained
    speculations off as insights. But economic blogging and much journalism
    largely does not operate this way. Naifs write books, and sell
    many of them too. People as varied as Matt Ridley and William
    Greider make book-length statements about economics. I’ve
    never done that, and this is my job. This is, to say the very
    least, bizarre.

  • So far,
    I’ve claimed something a bit obnoxious-sounding: that writers
    who have not taken a year of PhD coursework in a decent economics
    department (and passed their PhD qualifying exams), cannot meaningfully
    advance the discussion on economic policy.
  • You might
    say, “you’re telling us to leave everything to the experts,
    so why should I believe you are adequately policed?” This
    is a fair question, but as someone who has worked for a decade
    to publish in leading academic journals (with some, but hardly
    overwhelming, success), I now have the referee reports to prove
    that I live in a world where people are not falling over themselves
    to believe my assertions. The reports are often scathing, but
    usually very insightful, and have over the years pointed out all
    manner of incoherence in my work. The leading journals have rejection
    rates in the neighborhood of 80%, and I’ve had my share of
    them.
  • How can
    this be changed? A precondition for the market delivering this
    is a recognition by the general public that they are simply being
    had by the bulk of the economic blogging crowd. I hope to have
    alerted you to the giant disconnect that exists between the nuanced
    discussion that occurs between research economists and the noise
    (some of it from economists!) that one sees in the web or the
    op-ed pages of even the very best newspapers of the US. As a result,
    my hope is that the broader public will ask for a slightly higher
    bar when it comes to economics, rather than self-selecting into
    blogs that merely confirm half-baked views that might have been
    acquired from elsewhere.

And this punchline:

  • For my
    part, seventeen years after my first PhD coursework, I still feel
    ill at ease with my grasp of many issues, and I am fairly confident
    that this is not just a question of limited intellect.

We disagree.

We would comment
on this if it had any merit, and central point worth arguing or
even debating, but since this whole thing sounds like the ramblings
of a deranged lunatic, we will just leave it out there for your
comedic enjoyment.

Full must-laugh
at essay:

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