"The Paranoid Style in Economics"
August 15, 2013
Raghuram Rajan looks back at the exchange between Paul Krugman and Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff. He wonders:
"Why do high-profile economic tussles turn so quickly to ad hominem attacks?"
Part of the answer is in the unsatisfactory results from empirical work, especially in macroeconomics. It is hard to say much with certainty.
Pundits won’t get many readers with wishy-washy conclusions, so the natural tendency is to fudge—by professing more certainty than the data would warrant.
Another aspect has to do with the verbal attacks (and physical threats) on Krugman, which have made him more than a little defensive. The old joke goes, “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you….”
We all say things in the heat of the moment that best not have been said. Hard to remember, but virtue ethics asks us to be humble, to be temperate, and to forgive. Where are these attributes in the economics research manual?
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