Core Economics plug

I’ve been very gratified by the number of my fellow economists who’ve come to my defence[1] following the attack on me in the Oz. Among the first was Joshua Gans at Core Economics. I wrote to thank him, but haven’t got around to a public mention. Now that I am around to it, it’s a good opportunity to mention that Core Economics is a great blog, where quite a few of Australia’s leading economists (aka my mates) hang out. Go and read some of the posts.

fn1.* With notably rare exceptions * (I’m (ab)using this blogmeme ironically), any members of the profession who agreed with the hit have kept pretty quiet about it

Weekend reflections

It’s time again for weekend reflections, which makes space for longer than usual comments on any topic. In keeping with my attempts to open up the comments to new contributors , I’d like to redirect discussion, and restatements of previous arguments, as opposed to substantive new contributions, to the sandpit(s). In particular, please post nothing related to nuclear energy. As always, civilised discussion and no coarse language please.

“Not even wrong” is not praise

At one point in Zombie Economics, I tried a Popperian (or maybe Paulian) smackdown, saying that some defenders of EMH used arguments that effectively rendered it unfalsifiable. I thought that was a bad thing, but apparently at least one reviewer disagrees. Following my stoush with Murdoch, a commenter pointed me to this piece by Stephen Williamson of Washington University at St Louis, who has apparently been asked to review the book for the Journal of Economic Literature. Williamson claims that I am badly confused about the EMH, and that

Market efficiency is simply an assumption of rationality. As such it has no implications. If it has no implications, it can’t be wrong.

He follows up with “Like the “efficient markets hypothesis,” DSGE has no implications, and therefore can’t be wrong.””
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Believing Barry O’Farrell could cost you “up to” 100 IQ points

The NSW government has released a a frothing at the mouth press release claiming that a carbon price will devastate the economy. As Mary McCarthy would say, every single word in it is a lie, including “a” and “the”. Top billing has to go to that old favorite of shonky advertisers “up to”, as in a carbon price will ” force up electricity prices for NSW households by up to $498 a year.” The Commonwealth Treasury modelling, which I’ve checked, gives an average cost increase of $3.30 or about $170 a year.

Although the analysis is attributed to NSW Treasury, they apparently weren’t hackish enough for the government, which had to go to Frontier Economics to get the answers they wanted. I’m waiting to see the report, but in the meantime, my reactions to the press statement are over the fold

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Last chance for sponsors

The Brisbane Running Festival is on Sunday, and I’ll be attempting the half-marathon. Thanks to the generosity of readers here, we’ve raised $2320 for the Queensland Cancer Council. It would be a great encouragement to me to get the total up to $2500 or even $3000.

As I mentioned a while back, my preparation has been disrupted, so I’m not confident of breaking the two-hour mark as I originally planned – my original funding gimmick was a minute below that mark for every $1000 raised. But I will be trying hard to run the entire race, and do the best I can as regards time.

I’ve tried to thank all the donors individually, but I’ll offer a collective thanks to you all now, in case I missed anybody

Meltdown at the Oz: Quiggin edition

The Oz has always been thin-skinned, and my piece in the Fin the week before last attacking the Murdoch press (I’ve reprinted it over the fold) was bound to elicit a reaction. It came in the form of a full-length hit piece, written by Michael Stutchbury and including a fair few quotations to this blog. The headline An economist who is good in theory but on the far left in practice gives the general line. It has a bit of a phoned-in feel, like an exercise in party solidarity rather than a sudden concern with my errors and obviously wasn’t a spontaneous outburst – Stutchbury told me had been directed to write it. That’s part of the price of working for the Empire these days (compare Caroline Overington’s part in the attack in Julie Posetti).

Mostly, the piece doesn’t misrepresent me – it’s quite true that I think Barack Obama is too centrist, and that Julia Gillard doesn’t care about equality. However, as I said to Stutchbury during our phone conversation, it’s a bit precious to complain about various pieces of colorful language on my part in a paper which referred to me as having a “totalitarian mindset”. At least, unlike the anonymous editorialist who penned that description, Stutchbury calls me out by name rather than coyly referring to “an opinion writer in a financial tabloid“.

More significantly, Stutchbury ducks the issue on climate change, saying

On climate change, Murdoch has backed giving the planet the benefit of the doubt. The Australian supports putting a price on carbon over Tony Abbott’s direct action. But the journalistic default should include some scepticism over whether scientists can accurately predict the climate decades ahead.

He must be reading a different paper to the one that has now racked up 60+ entries in Tim Lambert’s Australian War on Science series. And that’s without considering the truly appalling stuff put out by News International outlets like Fox and the Sunday Times.

Update Michael Stutchbury has called me to take issue with my statement that he told me he had been directed to write the piece. That was my recollection of our conversation, but he was very firm in rejecting it, and I’m not going to insist on my version of events, so I’ve struck out that part of the original post.

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