Sunday, January 06, 2013

Is economics divided into warring ideological camps?

This week I went to the American Economic Association's annual meeting, which was held in sunny San Diego, CA. I went to quite a number of interesting sessions, mostly on behavioral economics and finance. What an exciting field!

But anyway, I also went to an interesting session called "What do economists think about major public policy issues?" There were two papers presented, both of which were extremely relevant for much of the debate going on in the econ blogosphere.

The first paper, by Roger Gordon and Gordon Dahl of UC San Diego (aside: now I want to co-author with a guy whose last name is "Noah"!), was called "Views among Economists: Professional Consensus or Point-Counterpoint?" Gordon & Dahl surveyed analyzed a survey of 41 top economists about their views on 81 policy issues, and tried to determine A) how much disagreement there was, and B) how much disagreement was due to political ideology.

They found that top economists agree about a lot of things. For example, 100% opposed a gold standard; as panel discussant Justin Wolfers put it, economists are united against Ron Paul. Also, 84% of top economists supported cuts in Medicare benefits, even for households making less than $250,000 a year. On some other issues, opinion was all over the place.

Gordon and Dahl also found that the differences that did exist couldn't easily be tied to individual characteristics like gender, experience working in Washington, etc. A panel discussant, Monika Piazzesi, did some further statistical analysis to show that the surveyed economists didn't clump up into "liberal" and "conservative" clusters. 

Conclusion: Economics, at least at the elite level, isn't divided into two warring ideological camps.

That doesn't mean there is no politicization. Justin Wolfers sat down and ranked the 41 top economists on a liberal/conservative scale according to his own intuition, and found that the economists he intuitively felt were liberal were more likely to support fiscal stimulus, and the conservatives less. He found a few other seemingly partisan differences this way, though not many. (Of course, one has to be careful with this type of analysis; if your ideas of who's "liberal" and who's "conservative" are formed by who supports stimulus and who opposes it, then of course you're going to see this type of effect!)

And of course, it's worth noting that the survey had a small sample, and included only "top" economists at major U.S. universities. There might be "long tails" of ideological bias lower down the prestige scale.

Paul Krugman, who was on the panel, suggested that politicization is mostly confined to the macro field. But even on the question of stimulus, most of the surveyed economists (80%) agreed that Obama's 2009 stimulus boosted output and employment (though fewer agreed that this boost was worth the long-term costs). So it seems that the few top economists who a few years ago were loudly saying that stimulus couldn't possibly work - Bob Lucas, Robert Barro, Gene Fama, etc. - were just a very vocal small minority.

These results surprised me. I'm so used to seeing top macroeconomists tangling with each other in the op-eds that I assumed that there was much more politicization out there than Gordon & Dahl ended up finding. And I had often heard that the appeal of certain classes of macro models - for example, RBC - came from their conservative policy implications.

So maybe I've been wrong all this time! 

Or maybe there was more politicization of macro back in the 70s and 80s? 

Or maybe there is still politicization, but the economics profession has just shifted decisively to the center-left? After all, as of 2012, the consensus favorite modeling approach among pure macro people seems to be New Keynesian models of the type preferred by Krugman, not RBC-type models of the type supported by Bob Lucas, Robert Barro, and other "new classical" economists back in the 1980s. It could be that nowadays most economists are - as one person on the panel put it - "market-hugging Democrats". (Or it could be that New Keynesian models simply won the war of ideas. Or both.)

I'm not sure, but Gordon & Dahl's paper is definitely making me question my beliefs...


  1. Cuts in Medicare benefits? Was that question distorted based upon the fact that these were "top economists" who likely were pulling decent salaries, good retirement benefits, and royalties from book sales? Yeah, sure they're totally going to want to cut medicare because it won't effect them.

    1. My question is, were they similarly supportive of cuts in provider reimbursements? The answer would tell us a lot.

    2. Their salaries have nothing to do with this. They take an objective view of the situation, dont demonize them just because you disagree

  2. I can see wanting to coauthor a paper with someone whose last name is Noah, but why not do it with someone whose first name is Smith?

    1. Utterly preposterous... ;-)

    2. Anonymous5:47 PM

      Well, if it's not Tim Noah, then says Bulls center Joakim Noah majored in Anthropology at Florida. NBA, economics, anthropology, there must be something there.

      If you go the NBA route, though, keep it quiet; Yglesias might beat you to it, hooking up with Wes Matthew(s) of the Blazers (advertising at Marquette).

    3. Barry6:56 AM

      You probably know the story of the alpha beta gamma paper (Alpher Bethe Gamow) perpetrated by George G. Perhaps a biblical sequence is available:

  3. There is the news effect. When someone prominent disputes commonly accepted wisdom, they are going to have much more coverage. This may be compounded by Nobels being held mostly by ancients who may not have accepted newer models.

  4. I think that this is symptomatic of the monopolisation/homogenisation of the mainstream level of economics by what Steve Keen calls neoclassicals (his definition: equilibrium, instrumentalism, methodological individualism). As you travel down the tails (as you put it) you will get vastly wider results.

    Clearly, academic economics is not a market with perfect competition...

    1. But remember, what this study is measuring is the correlation of policy positions with ideology.

      Even among the 41 top economists surveyed, there was quite a lot of disagreement on many policy issues. The disagreement just wasn't correlated with personal ideology.

      Do you want to argue that mainstream economics is objective and scientific, and that marginalized people like Steve Keen are more politicized?

    2. Do you want to argue that mainstream economics is objective and scientific, and that marginalized people like Steve Keen are more politicized?

      No, I want to argue that if we had two sample groups of neoclassicals and heterodox economists that the neoclassical groups would be clustered together, and the heterodox economists would be spread around. I tend to think economics is extremely politicised, and all this survey showed was that the sample group was largely from one political background (with a few exceptions).

      For example I looked through a lot of surveys and found myself agreeing more with Acemoglu quite a lot. Acemoglu is a definite outlier in the study. You introduce some more Acemoglus (institutionals), some more MMTers, some more Post-Keynesians, some more behaviouralists (I include you under that) and some more Austrians and the tails will get fatter.

    3. I don't think this is true. A lot of guys that use neoclassical methodology like Krugman, Delong, or Stiglitz generally have policy positions similar to a lot of heterodox economists.

      The methodology problem isn't so much about policy conclusions as it is about how policy problems are framed. Neoclassical economics frames the real world as being a "special case" of theory. As such when real world deviates from the theoretical ideal economists view it as a problem that needs to be fixed rather than a fact of how the real world works. Policy becomes focused on making reality look like theory

    4. Aziz: according to your definition of neoclassicism, Acemoglu is firmly neoclassical (just look at his papers).

    5. BB —

      The methodology problem isn't so much about policy conclusions as it is about how policy problems are framed.

      Right and how we frame questions is critical. So among neoclassical economists you will get some variation both in conclusions and in framing (some neoclassicals actually believe their assumptions, some just use assumptions as a starting point). But if you expand the sample to include more heterodox-leaning and heterodox economists and you will get much more variation in both parameters, which is the point.

      ivansmi —

      Yes, he is. New institutional economics is definitely part of the neoclassical tradition. So is a fair amount of behavioural economics. In Acemoglu's specific case though (as well as other institutionals, e.g. Ha-Joon Chang) I'd definitely consider him heterodox-leaning. He certainly reaches a fair amount of heterodox conclusions.

    6. Acemoglu is basically talking Marx and Veblen and putting it into a neoclassical framework. Which maybe isn't that bad of a thing.

    7. I find myself broadly in agreement with Aziz (though I think the term "neoclassical" is imprecise and should be avoided -- what you mean is just "mainstream", and the "perfect competition" comment annoyed me). Academic economics makes very clear to students that if they don't go along with the orthodoxy, they are not welcome and will be treated with contempt. The better economists will tell you to fake it till you make it. This is why I didn't major in econ even though it was my main interest. "Consensus" is assured on the way in.

    8. Aziz - You're probably right, but that's a different question than the one the authors were trying to answer, which was about political ideology, not "-dox" ideology.

    9. Nathanael10:46 PM

      Well, if the authors ask a silly question, they get a silly answer. "-dox" ideology is the issue in the econ profession. "Orthodox" ideology is, not coincidentally, in support of policies which benefit psychopathic CEOs.

  5. I think on the Medicare you're quoting from this question:

    To my reading your summary distorts the question. The question asks if EITHER cuts to Medicare/Medicaid benefits OR tax increases on those below 250k are required to stabilize long term fiscal health of US Govt. It's also clear if you read the responses that many of them believe that health savings can be achieved through better savings without benefit cuts.

    1. Anonymous9:20 PM

      The question was framed in an extremely poor manner. If we invoke ceteris paribus, then the obvious answer to the question is yes.

      Given the current trajectory of HC spending in the US, of course people would have to agree. However, much of this spending is due to how our system is set up. Americans waste a lot.

      David Cutler, who actually studies health economics, gave the best answer. The US delivers HC outcomes at a radically more expensive rate than other industrialized countries. For example,

      "In an August 2011 Health Affairs article, University of Toronto researcher Dante Morra and coauthors compared administrative costs incurred by small physician practices in the United States, which interact with numerous insurance plans, to small physician practices in Canada, which interact with a single payer agency. US physicians, on average, incurred nearly four times more administrative costs than did their Canadian counterparts. If US physicians' administrative costs were similar to those of Canadian physicians, the result would be $27.6 billion in savings annually. Overall, administrative complexity added $107 billion to $389 billion in wasteful spending in 2011."

    2. Nathanael10:44 PM

      They're still wrong. You can stabilize the long term fiscal health of the US government by taxing multimillionaires, cutting the super-bloated military budget, and establishing single-payer health care.

      In fact, our 0.1% has so much money, we could easily fund the government from taxes without taxing 95% of the population. People haven't noticed this yet. It wasn't true in the 1950s. It's just an article of faith that you have to tax the masses -- it isn't actually true any more. Now that a tiny minority has almost all the money, you can tax them and only them.

  6. Does the survey survey Europe? Most countries there don't have two-party systems although there seems to be a right-left spectrum. Or are European economists non-elite unless they work in the US top 7?

    1. And sure, the rest of the world, too.

  7. Many of the economists surveyed are not American. They just work at American universities. The US top 7 is also the international top 7. And it's not really close.

  8. Perhaps the depth of academic support has rapidly diminishing effects on the ability of a given economic viewpoint to make itself heard...but there are fairly linear effects resulting from a supportive political establishment's institutional strength and resources. So an 80-20 consensus ends up looking to most of us like a bitter 50-50 divide as long as conservative and liberal political/media establishments can each find at least a few top-tier economists to deliver their side of the argument, and as long as those conservative and liberal political/media establishments are fairly evenly matched.

    In other words, if a balanced volume of competing op-eds isn't much checked by a moderate-but-not-overwheming academic consensus, then it is going to keep looking like a balanced war of top macroeconomists tangling with each other.

  9. "Or maybe there is still politicization, but the economics profession has just shifted decisively to the center-left?"

    A 2008 survey of 523 members of the American Economic Association found that 48% were registered Democrats and 17% were registered Republicans (Powerpoint slide 16):

    A 2008 survey of 683 associates of the National Bureau of Economic Research found that (of those that responded) 46% identified themselves as Democrats and 10% as Republicans:

    And look at Table 6 in this paper. (Democratic 58%, Republican 23%). Economists are further to the right than scholars in the humanities and other social scientists, but that is relative. Apparently PhDs have a liberal bias:

    Economists’ policy views and voting
    December 2004

    "Abstract. In Spring 2003, a survey of 1000 economists was conducted using a randomly generated membership list from the American Economics Association. The survey contained questions about 18 policy issues, voting behavior, and several background variables. The responsewas 264 (nonblank) surveys. The responses showthat most economists are supporters of safety regulations, gun control, redistribution, public schooling, and anti-discrimination laws. They are evenly mixed on personal choice issues, military action, and the minimum wage. Most economists oppose tighter immigration controls, government ownership of enterprise and tariffs. In voting, the Democratic:Republican ratio is 2.5:1. These results are compared to those of previous surveys of economists. We itemize a series of important questions raised by
    these results."

    1. Nathanael10:42 PM

      This is because nobody in their right mind can remain Republican after studying ANYTHING.

      The Democratic Party is, in international terms, a center-right party.

      The Republican Party is so far off the charts they don't even have an equivalent in most countries. It's similar to a fascist party, like Golden Dawn, in its bigotry and religious fanaticism, and its total denial of reality -- but without the positive aspects of fascism (fascists actually support infrastructure spending).

      So studies like those you quote are shocking only in that there are *any* Republican economists. 23% is astonishingly high. In most scientific fields, there are basically no Republicans. This is because the Republican Party denies global warming *and* evolution, and rejects the very concept of empirical research (in favor of "divine revelation").

      The Republican Party has now degenerated to opposing the teaching of the distributive law in algebra. (Really. I'm not kidding. Google it.)

  10. Six hundred economists endorsed the "Economists for Romney" letter which tells me that the profession is full of partisan hacks.

    1. Anonymous3:46 PM

      If six hundred economists would have endorsed a similar letter for Obama, would you have come to the same conclusion?

    2. The conclusion depends significantly on the actual wording of the letter. If by "similar" you mean a letter making grandious claims for a plan which did not actually exist then yes the conclusion would be the same - but there was no such letter, and there were no such claims by the Obama campaign.

    3. As someone who signed a similar letter from the the McCain campaign ane (barely) survived to regret it, I wouldn't put too much weight on this. Read the story here:

      Now I know better!

  11. Anonymous3:26 PM

    The reason people are writing papers like this one is that, from the outside, macroeconomics certainly LOOKS like a field that is highly politicized. And the reason it looks like that is because, as Johnathan Quiggen noted the other day in a post:

    ". . .despite the thousands of papers published every year in the field, macroeconomic theory is incapable of giving even a qualitative answer to the most basic questions about fiscal policy [what causes unemployment and what policies can best respond to it]; at least, not one that would not elicit dissent from a substantial, and well-credentialled group of leading experts. Worse, public policy decisions to impose austerity policies are being made on the basis of a magical theory, with almost no empirical support.

    These do not sound like small disagreements, and they certainly sound politically-based. If you are saying that supply-siders in academia turn out to be closet Democrats when you interview them, that certainly does not correlate with how they allow their views to be used in the world of politics and policy.

  12. This was a good session. I was particularly struck by the idea that one reason economists disagree with the public is that economists are trained to answer questions very carefully, while members of the public might take into account considerations that were not part of the question. The example given in the session involved whether a given policy lowered unemployment - which nearly every economist agreeing it did - while members of the public were presumably answering a question balancing costs and benefits.

    1. economists are trained to answer questions very carefully, while members of the public might take into account considerations that were not part of the question

      Economists make simplifying assumptions and then build toy models with tractable mathematics. In the process they lose sight of the importance of the simplifying assumptions. It is not a surprise that sometimes the public cries "bullshit" when the economists claim that the toy model has some application to the real world.

      I think it would be fair to say that economists generally favored financial deregulation and look what happened when toy models met the real world.

      RBC theory seems to be based on the proposition that all of the most important stuff is the result of exogenous shocks. The public is justified in howling in laughter or rage at a "profession" that puts forward such explanations. RBC is only one small step removed from arguing that rain is caused by virgins falling into volcanoes.

  13. Let's do some basic maths:

    7 "conservative" institutions + 7 "liberal" institutions = 14 institutions

    41 people / 14 institutions = 3 per institution, with one only having two.

    I don't know about anyone else, but I have never seen a department with only three economists.

    Trivia question from having skimmed the paper, but not found the Appendix yet: Did the Fed's activities increase GDP by around 1% last year? I'm inclined to argue yes ex post, while no economist surveyed said it would happen ex ante.

  14. The fact that there's not MORE polarization after such a crash as the world wide one experienced in 2008 is an indication that the economics field has learned nothing: which is worrying.

  15. Pedro7:19 PM

    Maybe this will help the discussion

  16. Noah Smith:
    "But even on the question of stimulus, most of the surveyed economists (80%) agreed that Obama's 2009 stimulus boosted output and employment..."

    Roger Gordon and Gordon B. Dahl (Page 2):
    "To provide evidence on the degree to which there is a consensus vs. polarized camps of economists, we make use of the responses to a series of questions posed to a distinguished panel of economists put together by the Chicago Booth School of Business, using responses up through October 30, 2012."

    The question and list of responses are here:

    "Question A: Because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the U.S. unemployment rate was lower at the end of 2010 than it would have been without the stimulus bill."

    A total of 41 economists were asked this question. Five did not answer the question. Twelve responded "strongly agree" and 21 responded "agree". One each responded "uncertain", "disagree" and "disagree strongly".

    The economist that responded "uncertain" is Kenneth L. Judd. His area of research is computational economics, industrial organization, and finance, not macroeconomics.

    The economist that responded "disagree" is Edward P. Lazear. His area of research is labor economics, not macroeconomics.

    The economist that responded "strongly disagree" is Caroline M. Hoxby. Her area of research is the economics of education, public economics, and labor economics, not macroeconomics.

    Get the picture?

    1. Anonymous9:26 PM

      Just because these economists specialized in fields other than macroeconomics should not excuse them from basic understanding of the AD/AS model and realize that boosting AD during a time of AD deficiency would help employment.

    2. Agreed, but it is interesting that none of the economists that disagreed or were uncertain were macroeconomists.

      And note Lazear's comment:

      "The estimates [of ARRA's effects] are varied and the highest are based on ex-ante models, not experience-based data. The upper bound estimate is low."

      That appears to justify the position that he is uncertain about the truth of the statement, not that he disagrees with the statement.

      Similarly, Hoxby states that "the depressing effects of future liabilities likely exceed benefits". She appears to be answering a different question, whether ARRA was worth doing, rather than the question that was asked, if ARRA reduced the unemployment rate in 2010 below what it would otherwise have been.

      So the comments of the economists who disagreed seem to indicate that they didn't really disagree with the statement.

  17. I have a few questions about the A.E.A. conference and other things, Noah Smith...

    1.) Were there any meetings in the A.E.A conference that covered experimental economics and/or decision theory?

    2.) Have you ever covered the implications of the Ellsberg Paradox on your blog before? Daniel Kuehn has not too long ago on his blog, in the following links.

    3.) Are you aware of any survey of academic economists (or social scientists and other scholars that deal with decision-making in some form for that matter) that analyze their views on Subjective Expected Utility? On this point, I wouldn't be surprised if a super-majority accepted S.E.U.

    1. Why do you always address me by my full name?

    2. It's actually a tendency I have to address people by their full names when I know them. I hope you didn't take it personally...would you mind answering my three questions?

    3. It's actually a tendency I have to address people by their full names when I know them.

      But we don't know each other...

      I hope you didn't take it personally...

      Oh, of course not.

      would you mind answering my three questions?


  18. Noah,

    It is very difficult for me to accept what you argue, as in the past few weeks two papers have been published that pretty much shred modern macro. People will no more accept these insights than the original ones of Keynes.

    Look at all the people who talk/write about Hayek, etc.

    First, there is Kenneth Carlaw and Richard Lipsey, “Does history matter?, brought to attention by David Glasner.

    Second, there is the paper mentioned by Brad, yesterday, Roger E.A. Farmer, Carine Nourry, and Alain Venditti: The Inefficient Markets Hypothesis: Why Financial Markets Do Not Work Well in the Real World.

    1. Nathanael10:36 PM

      See -- this just continues to prove *my* thesis. There is a war in economics between an "elite"/"mainstream" view (which is mostly wrong, and does a lot of evil) and various guerrilla groups trying to overthrow it.

      Obviously you won't see "two warring camps". The guerrillas haven't breached the walls of the ivory tower yet.

      The ivory tower ignores papers like the ones you just mentioned. (Yes, DeLong has sympathies with the guerrillas.)

  19. Thank you for finally seeing the light! :) This is what I have been saying all along. Krugman's divisive view of the worls is far from accurate!

    1. Well, divisions might really be there, and might run deep, they just don't seem to be correlated (much) with political ideology.

    2. Well, yes! :)

      Scientific disagreements will always exist, depending on how strong the empirical evidence is. It is important however that they are not driven by ideology!

    3. Anonymous2:40 PM

      If we don't live in a divisive world, then why haven't we fixed the problem with the economy?

      Krugman claims that we have the tools to alleviate much of the suffering and have provided policy prescriptions. Either Krugman is an outlier or we live in a divisive; politically and economically.

      I believe that Krugman is largely right and that we have the economic tools to solve our current economic problems. Therefore, I view the problem more as political one, in which Krugman has attacked numerous times. There is also some bad economics out there, which Krugman has also attacked.

      While Krugman may overstate the economic division, there is a huge political division on how to tackle our economic woes.

      Plus, the IMG survey may not be the most representative sample. Here is another survey, consisting of Conservative economists, and it clearly shows the division. However, I also doubt it is representative sample of Conservative economists, but it highlights the division.

    4. There is a difference between what academic economists think, and what the general public thinks. Policy depends on the latter, yet Krugman seems to have a problem with the former. A stunning 100% of the economists asked think that the gold standard is a bad idea. Do you remember how many people voted for Ron Paul? The truth is, voters believe what they want to believe, they pay little attention to what academic economists say. Just look at the GOP rhetoric (e.g. Santorum) regarding academia.

    5. Anonymous3:15 PM

      Policy does not necessarily depend on public opinion. Many times politicians will pass policies that goes against public opinion.

      Going back to a strict, fixed gold standard is wrong. Even Ron Paul does not argue for that. However, I am not sure what this has to do with anything.

    6. Economists disagree with most everything that Ron Paul says (including allowing Congress to audit the Fed). Policy-makers do what their voters want them to do, with few exceptions. The current impasse regarding the debt ceiling is an example. The whole notion of a dollar debt ceilings is ridiculus among economists, yet it seems popular among many voters and their representatives. Krugman blames the former for what the latter do. This is BS.

    7. Anonymous3:51 PM

      I have yet to see Krugman blame any economist for the notion of the dollar debt ceiling.

      He is critical of people peddling austerity measurements and anyone who places our deficit problem before our unemployment problem.

      Policymakers do not always do what their constituents wants. For example, "In almost every instance, senators appear to be considerably more responsive to the opinions of affluent constituents than to the opinions of middle-class constituents, while the opinions of constituents in the bottom third of the income distribution have no apparent statistical effect on their senators’ roll call votes. Disparities in representation are especially pronounced for Republican senators, who were more than twice as responsive as Democratic senators to the ideological views of affluent constituents."

      I know there is another study out there showing that the rich and lobbyist have more political influence than others, but I can't find it right now. However, this is not hard to deduce.

    8. I never said that Krugman blames economists for the debt ceiling. It seems you do not want to understand! My response is to your original comment that "Either Krugman is an outlier or we live in a divisive; politically and economically." Yes, we live in a divisive political climate, but Krugman is wrong when he argues that macroeconomists form opinions driven by ideology, much like the general public or policy-makers. This was the whole point of the paper that inspired the post!

    9. Anonymous6:48 PM

      I understand fine, but I disagree with you. It seems that you have an issue with people who have different opinions than you do.

      Economists do form opinions driven by ideology. Certainly some will listen to the data and form (or change) their opinions, but some will be influenced by predetermined worldviews. To claim that the field of macroeconomics is completely free from prejudice is a breach of reality

      While I might agree with you that Krugman may overstate this case (he often writes in a hyperbolic manner), I disagree with you that the field of macroeconomics and all its practitioners are ideological unbiased.

      Plus, I am not sold on the questions that were used. I have issues with how they frame the questions - they are somewhat leading and narrow - making people arrive at certain conclusions. Plus, many of those participants do not specialize in macroeconomics.

      One must also consider that much of Europe got it wrong too with their austerity measures. Perhaps you can blame bad policies resulting from a schism between policymakers and macro-economists. Regardless, our economic problems are epidemic and they do not have to be this way, especially if we have a consensus on how to fix these problems.

    10. I dont't have an issue with people who disagree with me. I have an issue with people who pull opinions out of their behind and stick to them even when empirical evidence shows otherwise. When you or Krugman present hard evidence I will take you seriously. Until then I am going with the paper by Gordon and Dahl that bothered to test your theory using actual data, and rejected it! Even Krugman had a hard time responding!

      This is not to say that there are no economists that fit Krugman's description. They are just not the norm. Notice also that Krugman, in his response, tries to defend his view by saying that he has MACROeconomists in mind (unlike you who are referring to economists in general). Are macroeconomists a different breed that makes them more ideology-prone? This is not what my experience suggests!

    11. Anonymous7:02 PM

      The Gordon and Dahl sample warrants skepticism. Why would you believe that such a small sample, with even fewer macroeconomists, with so few macroeoconomic questions would be an accurate sample?

      Plus, what makes you think that those list of questions accurately reflect the different views among some macroeconomists regarding the current times? For example, even right wing ideologies would agree that the ARRA reduced unemployment. That doesn't mean that they would arrive at a consensus over policy.

      Almost every single economist, even Ron Paul and Austrians, are against returning to a strict gold. Does this mean that their is no ideological divide between the Austrians and Krugman?

      Essentially, your hard data is two questions that has a lot of research already behind it among a sample of 42 economists, and you shout, "Eureka!". Sorry, but that is not hard evidence at all.

      None of the questions revolved around the policy debate. Sorry, but you do not have hard evidence. Of course economists are going to find much agreement that a strict gold standard is a bad idea and that the ARRA reduced unemployment.

      Seriously, is this all you have?

    12. Ron Paul is not an economist, he was trained as a Medical Doctor. You might want to get your facts straight! In fact, even holding a B.A. in Economics does not qualify you as an economist. The economists whose opinions is really informed, and therefore matters, hold a Ph.D., and most of them work are top-tier universities. So Gordon and Dahl's sample is appropriate.

    13. By the way, most economists oppose not a strict gold standard, but any version of gold standard!

  20. Anonymous6:18 PM

    I know that Ron Paul is not an economist, but you brought him up in this conversation, so perhaps you need to learn how to read or stop creating convoluted strawman arguments.

    While you are at, get some training in statistics. Gordon and Dahl's example is hardly representative.

    BTW, I know that most economists are against returning to any gold standard, but my point was lost on you. Obviously, you do not even understand the importance of framing a question.

    You have showed your truly colors. You are just another anti-Krugmanite who has absolutely no training in statistics and limited training in economics.

    Seriously, take a class in statistics. It won't hurt you.

    1. Damn it, I accidentally showed my truly colors! Curses, my plot is foiled...

  21. Anonymous10:04 PM

    My comment was directed at CA, not you. However, since you chimed in, do you believe that that Gordon and Dahl paper is a proper sample and do you think the questions accurately reflect the debate in modern day macroeconomics?

    1. Lulz!

      Oh, they reflect some of the debates, for sure. Maybe not all of them.

      Is it a proper sample? Of top American economists, yes. Of world economists of all stripes, definitely not.

    2. Anonymous9:40 PM

      Sorry to burst your bubble, but the two questions regarding the ARRA and the gold standard do not accurately reflect today's modern macroeconomic debates.

      What complete and utter hogwash.

      And an accurate sample of macroecomists tackling today's leading issues?

      You're are just full of shit.

  22. Nathanael10:33 PM

    "Conclusion: Economics, at least at the elite level, isn't divided into two warring ideological camps."

    This is because at the elite level, the ideological camp which says whatever the 0.1% likes has *already won*. Look at this:

    "Also, 84% of top economists supported cuts in Medicare benefits, even for households making less than $250,000 a year."

    Well, this is obviously unnecessary, cruel, and evil. But it serves the perceived short-term interest of the 0.1%.

    So there you go. Economics has one evil ideological camp which currently controls the elite. They are wrong. There are warring camps attempting to overthrow this evil monarch.