Sunday, August 08, 2004

The political economist

BillMon dispels the myths and confusion behind the employment rate and the influence of the household v. payroll surveys. It is very disappointing to see someone of Mankiw’s qualifications turn into a political hack. He is one of the nation’s leading macroeconomists, and like Larry Summers (treasury secretary under Rubin/Clinton), both are bright stars and were one of the youngest tenured professors at Harvard.

Brad DeLong is also a noted economic historian at UC Berkeley who specializes in macroeconomic growth, also a leader in the field. And since we’re on topic, Paul Krugman, before he became a vocal NY Times columnist, was a professor of international trade at Stanford, then MIT, now Princeton, and won the Bates medal, an honor bestowed to the best economist under 40.

Note that while Bush has a legion of supply-side think tanks full of mediocre economists backing him, you have over 50 Nobel prize scientists and economists (not counting the 4 exceptional ones above), a dozen 3- and 4-star generals and admirals (including the 2 most recent retired chiefs of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), as well as over 200 business leaders of the Fortune 1000 that have signed on to the Kerry bandwagon.

The reasons behind this support is not ideology - it simply lies in the fact that the numbers just haven’t added up using Bush’s arithmetic – whether one is speaking about the president’s war or peace policies. And when numbers don’t add up, it doesn’t matter what you say as president or if people think he’s a great, straight-shooter from Texas. However, it does matter whether a president deliver on what he says most (or for 3rd rate presidents, half?) of the time.

If you do the political math yourself, you’ll see that Bush has a big deficit in this area – big on rhetoric, small on tangible, measurable results. So it’s no surprise that he has an increasing credibility gap with the American people, which I doubt will change regardless of how Bush spins, smears, and pontificates in November….