Arnold Kling  

Confidently Uncertain

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The latest IGM forum question asks renowned economists to guess whether, prior to the crisis, Freddie and Fannie passed many benefits through to mortgage borrowers. The economists are also asked to rate their confidence in their answers, on a scale of 1 to 10. For his part, Robert Hall is 10 in his confidence. His answer? "Uncertain."

Which is just fine, by the way. I am confidently uncertain about the effects of macroeconomic policies. I am confidently uncertain about whether inequality is a growing problem. Richard Burkhauser and Russ Roberts would reinforce the latter uncertainty.

On Freddie and Fannie, I am quite confident that government attempts to increase the availability and reduce the cost of mortgage credit are not welfare-improving. I am even more confident that politicians will never learn their lesson on that one.


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COMMENTS (1 to date)
Philo writes:

“I am quite confident that government attempts to increase the availability and reduce the cost of mortgage credit are not welfare-improving.” Well, surely they improve *somebody’s* welfare; it’s just *on the whole* that they are not welfare-improving.

“I am even more confident that politicians will never learn their lesson on that one.” Me, too. It is not in a politician’s interest to learn which policies are welfare-improving and which the reverse; his self-interested incentive is to learn which are the policies by promoting which he will gain votes.

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