The latest intellectual embarrassment from the pen of Brad DeLong.
The transparent effort here is to drive a “respectability” wedge between Friedman-loyal Chicago economists and the micro-based conceptions of Austrian economists, with the ultimate goal of marginalizing non-Keynesian analysis in the debate over the wisdom of a cargo cult approach to the economic bust.
DeLong does all this with the talent of a practiced mortgage broker, presenting a false explication of Hayek’s work to the point of making it the supposed direct kin of the beyond-the-pale economics of such reviled figures as Karl Marx and Herbert Hoover (even while getting Hoover’s economics wrong in the process).
How DeLong can produce work like this and maintain his reputation in the profession is something of a mystery, even granting the ubiquitous ignorance of the history of economic thought prevailing among economists. One would hope that somewhere along the line even the most historically illiterate economists would pick up on the fact that — when the topic is Hayek — Brad DeLong is talking through his hat. But without economists stepping up to expose DeLong’s disgraceful effort at marginalization for what it is, this unfortunately will likely remain simply a hope.
A decade ago Paul Krugman attacked Austrian business cycle theory as the modern economic equivalent of “phlogiston theory”, but it’s almost impossible to imagine a leading professor of chemistry publicly explicating phlogiston theory with the confusion and incompetence that Krugman showed in his discussion of Friedrich Hayek’s business cycle work. A chemistry professor publicly airing such confusion in a pose of superior understanding would be drowned in an avalanche of public corrections. But among the economic elite, Krugman’s naked thrust at professional marginalization against other colleagues was met with nary a raised eyebrow.
In this context, DeLong effort against Hayek looks a bit like the pathetic “follower” kid who imitates the lead of the bully head of the pack in giving the “outsider” kid a punch in the gut. And don’t miss just how easy this is, considering that DeLong is merely following his leader Krugman in foul punching a man who’s dead.