Justin Wolfers, Mark Thoma, Brad DeLong and Menzie Chinn, among others, slam Richard Posner’s recent post attacking Christina Romer for abandoning her academic values. The attack on Judge Posner is two pronged: (1) he doesn’t know the basic techniques/assumptions of macroeconomics; and (2) he either hasn’t read, or doesn’t understand, Romer’s academic work. Wolfers (who I admire greatly) is typically blunt. My running commentary on his comments are in brackets.
“Having recently re-read much of the modern literature on fiscal policy [note the invocation of authority!], I found myself underlining several of his claims that either reflect an incomplete understanding of the issue or are simply at odds with the current views of mainstream macro [suffer not the witch to live!]. Yet they are stated as simple truths, with no hint of qualification [if Justin wants to be outraged by simplification, he should read this]. And he cites not a single number nor builds a serious theoretical argument in support of any of his conclusions. “
Since lawyers often feel that economists and political scientists writing about law and legal institutions are similarly autistic/naive/under-appreciative of the literature, my first reaction to such complaints is: get over yourselves. But more mature reflection prompted a slightly more generous thought: see what we mean?