Saturday, December 06, 2008

Why didn't Obama hire Stiglitz ?

Someone asked this question (someone very very young, terrifyingly smart and progressive so I guess Klein or Yglesias). My reply is that Stiglitz is not a team player. The proof is here.

Stiglitz is terrifyingly smart and progressive. So what's the problem ? First it is politically costly to be associated with him in any way, because he is antipatico (this is hard to translate -- unlikable is a bit weak and loathsome is a bit strong).

He writes

"For those of us who always claimed some connection to the Keynesian tradition, this is a moment of triumph"

Did he write that ? Did he suggest that he feels great, because the unregulated market has caused huge suffering ? Does he feel great, because the unregulated makert has caused huge suffering ?

Damned if I know, but I can answer the following question easily.

Do you want to be associated in any way with someone whose worst enemy can ask such questions without feeling ridiculous ?

Answer is "Professor Stiglitz, I really think that you can contribute more to human well being as an academic. For one thing you have done great things as an academic already. For another, I don't want anyone to hold me responsible for anything you say."

Next "The misguided policies that resulted – pushed by, among others, some members of President-elect Barack Obama's economic team – had earlier inflicted enormous costs on developing countries."

Or, in other words

"yep, I'm still settling decade old scores. Wasn't it shocking how slowly East Asian countries recovered in 1997 ? My don't we just shake our heads in wonder at what the hell happened to Korea and Taiwan. Also, obviously, President Obama doesn't give a damn about Indonesia. He probably has no idea where it is and certainly has no friends or half sisters who are Indonesian. In any case the main point is that I am way better than Larry Summers.

Look smart young guy: YOu want Stiglitz outside of the tent pissing in not inside of the tent pissing in. He is a genius and his aim is excellent, but you can hope that if he is outside the tent he will miss he opening.

update: looks like I picked the wrong week to try to guess which smart young blogger I disagree with.


James Wimberley said...

You really think Stiglitz is less arrogant and antipatico than Summers? It's possible of course that Obama couldn't have both and picked Summers as having more practical experience.

Anonymous said...

"Why didn't Obama hire Stiglitz ?

"Someone asked this question (someone very very young, terrifyingly smart and progressive so I guess Klein or Yglesias). My reply is that Stiglitz is not a team player."

Your reply is typical pretend to be liberal rubbish. Imagine my surprise. (I have no need to look to whatever your self-serving proof may be.)

(Your language is typically disgusting. Keep using disgusting imagery though, since it tells us best who you really are.)

Robert said...


Absolutely. I know Summers a bit (he was my PhD supervisor). He likes to say outrageous things, but he can control himself. Notably he was a team player on the Clinton team. As far as I recall, he didn't say anything outrageous when he worked for the Treasury. In fact, I don't think he said anything memorable.

Stiglitz put in his 2 years then became a ferocious critic.

There is no comparison.

Michael Drake said...

"antipatico (this is hard to translate"

No, no, it's easy: 'antipatico' is just the opposite of 'simpatico'.

Glad I could clear that up.

malcolm said...

The economics profession has been dominated for the last 30 or so years by equilibrium theorists.
Lucas and Sargent and Wallace as well as Prescott and Kydland pretty much bannished Keynesian type
analyses to the undergraduate intermediate and principles level
courses. I am actually in sympathty
with Stiglitz when I can see that my own world view has been validated by the sad times that we are in. There is a lovely essay by Rogoff where he talks about how
brave Dornbusch was to postulate sticky prices in his overshooting paper, to presume that the goods market doesn't instantaneously clear.