David R. Henderson  

Bill Keller's Slip

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In an editorial in yesterday's New York Times, Bill Keller decries the competition that newspapers get from independent sources on the web. That's not how he poses it, of course. No. What he sees is a lot of loud, outlandish viewpoints.

I don't deny that there are such viewpoints. But it's interesting that one of Keller's approving quotes is about people who would like to eliminate the Federal Reserve Board. Here's the key paragraph:

"Nobody who is taken seriously as an economist is going to say 'cancel the Fed,' " said Glenn Hubbard, the dean of Columbia Business School, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under George W. Bush, and now Mitt Romney's chief economic adviser. "I find it very disturbing that the media is giving equal time to some ideas that are just crazy."

So Hubbard is saying--and Keller appears to agree--that any economist who wants to abolish the Federal Reserve Board is not taken seriously. Furthermore, Hubbard says that someone who thinks that--and, again, Keller seems to agree--is crazy.

Later in the piece, Keller writes:

Of course, there have always been economists who leaned right or left -- and some outright snake-oil salesmen -- but until recently the public debate about economics pretty much stayed within the boundaries of accepted science. Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman have become conservative icons, John Maynard Keynes and Paul Samuelson are stalwarts of the liberals, but in their lifetimes they all had a reverence for evidence (even if their acolytes did not).

So Keller is saying that Hayek and Friedman are taken seriously and are not crazy, right? Do you see his problem?

For a partial hint, watch this.

HT to Don Boudreaux.


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CATEGORIES: Monetary Policy , Money



COMMENTS (7 to date)
Jonathon Hunt writes:

Why are Friedman and Hayek still being identified with Conservatism? I mean come on; Hayek wrote an article specifically entitled "Why I'm Not a Conservative."

mark writes:

I admire your endurance in reading that far into his article. I gave up about 5 paragraphs in, right after he said how he had learned that there really was a consensus solution to the economy - short term stimulus. And that only politics was getting in its way. It was one of the most embarrassing articles I have ever read in the Times.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Jonathon Hunt,
Good catch. Thanks.
@mark,
Thanks for your admiration. I learned early in life, though, that if you’re going to comment on something more than casually, you need to read the whole thing.

Eric Hanneken writes:

Do you know who else favored abolishing the Federal Reserve Board? Alan Greenspan.

Only a few months earlier, Greenspan had recommended to a Senate committee that economic regulations all should be sunsetted. Senator Paul Sarbanes accused him of "playing with fire, or indeed throwing gasoline on the fire," and asked him whether he favored a sunset provision in the authorization of the Fed. Greenspan coolly answered that he did. Do you actually mean, demanded the senator, that the Fed "should cease to function unless affirmatively continued"? "That is correct, sir," Greenspan responded. . . .

The Senator could scarcely believe his ears. "Now my next question is, is it your intention that the report of this hearing should be that Greenspan recommends a return to the gold standard?" Greenspan responded, "I've been recommending that for years, there's nothing new about that.... It would probably mean there is only one vote in the FOMC [Federal Open Market Committee] for that, but it is mine." [R.W. Bradford, "Deep Cover Radical for Capitalism," Liberty Magazine, pp. 37-42, 52]

Of course, Greenspan also wrote an essay titled "Gold and Economic Freedom" for The Objectivist in 1966, in which he advocated a gold standard.
Eric Hanneken writes:

Forgot to include the issue of Liberty Magazine in the citation. It was the November 1997 issue, which is available online.

Robert Hurley writes:

I think your reponse is evidence of the truth of the Keller's assertion. Your conclusion in the last quote seems to be just the opposite of what Keller implied. Take abolishing the Fed, the problem is that those who advocate that step do not then explain what the consequences will be in any objective terms. His premise is that the problem is that too often truth and fiction are given equal billing or sometime truth is never mentioned at all. I certainly have found that to be true.

drobviousso writes:

Robert Hurley - That's not proof of Keller's assertion. It's a suggestions that Keller is projecting.

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