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Economic Wisdom From Harvard

Monday, March 13, 2017 21:17
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And from that rarity, A leading Republican Harvard economist.

Many years ago, the mass circulation Reader’s Digest had a feature titled “Humor in These United States.” The following would have qualified for inclusion.

Greg Mankiw, author of a leading economic textbook, former Chair of  the G. W. Bush Council of Economic Advisors, member of the Romney inner circle, widely praised for his decency as a human being, writes a New York Times op ed suggesting that President Trump needs to listen to professional economists. He starts with an anecdote about how Trump is alleged to have asked his then national security advisor, General Flynn, if a strong dollar is good or bad and was told by Flynn that he needed to consult a professional economist.

At the end of the article, Mankiw says “Oh, and about the dollar.” Guess what he then says about a strong versus a weak dollar? He says that it depends, that it benefits some and hurts others, and leaves it there. He doesn’t even bother to define what a strong or weak dollar is. How helpful! No wonder President Truman said that he was looking for a one-armed economist (who would not be able to keep saying: on the one hand, on the other hand). Why should President Trump or anybody seek out this kind of advice? Does Mankiw himself not perceive the irony of such an answer for the question he has posed?

Is it time to give up on economics or economists? No. The problem here is not with economists. The problem is with Keynesian economists like Mankiw who still totally dominate leading universities and policy circles.

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