Mankiw replaces Hubbard

Glenn Hubbard has resigned as chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers to be replaced by Greg Mankiw. Mankiw was a somewhat surprising (until this news) signatory of the recent economists’ statement endorsing the Bush tax cuts, and has written papers taking a relatively relaxed view of government debt (it’s a sign of the times that this is a crucial qualification for a Republican CEA chairman).

I’m a big admirer of Mankiw’s work, which I’ve cited on many occasions, most notably in relation to the ‘equity premium puzzle’. I’m also, in a very distant sense, a co-author: one of my pieces was reproduced in the Australian edition of his bestselling textbook. But I don’t think he’s made a wise decision in taking the CEA job. It’s one thing to reject scaremongering about current levels of government debt (about 50 per cent of GDP in the US). It’s quite another to be pushed into the position of advocating fiscal policies that are already fiscally unsustainability and are only likely to get worse over the next couple of years.