Candidates with hairstyles on economic policy

Paul Krugman has a NYTimes op-ed column on the economic policies of all the big-name presidential contenders. One of his final comments is, “on Sunday Mr. Obama came out with a real stimulus plan. As was the case with his health care plan, which fell short of universal coverage, his stimulus proposal is similar to those of the other Democratic candidates, but tilted to the right…. I know that Mr. Obama’s supporters hate to hear this, but he really is less progressive than his rivals on matters of domestic policy.”

A friend had sent me a link to Krugman’s column, and knowing that she’s been torn between backing Clinton or Obama I replied to her

Go Hillary! (Right?)


Go Barack! (Not right but Left!)

To which she replied

Haha, I don’t know…I mean, maybe slightly right on economic policy isn’t such a bad thing…? There sure are a lot of moderately right leaning economists…I just thought it was an interesting (and new) way to compare the candidates

To which I replied

No, slightly right on economic policy is bad. Slightly right on economic policy means slightly closer to:

  • ever-growing government deficits and/or slashed social services
  • ever-growing economic inequality
  • greater turbulence in the economy thus increasing risks of more frequent and deeper recessions
  • more frequent and larger government bailouts of high-risk corporate losses (see point above)
  • and a total ban on all cheese. [My friend loves cheese more than life itself.]

There are a lot of moderately right leaning economists because most economists have never been exposed to any genuinely left economic thinking and there’s a tendency for left leaning people who might otherwise become economists to instead become sociologists. They think Paul Krugman is a lefty when in reality he’s only mildly left leaning.

Just thought I’d share. Feel free to add more bullet points in the comments.

(And if you’re wondering about my mention of hairstyles in the title of this posting, just read Krugman’s column and you’ll see.)

One comment

  • I agree with Jonathan on two things especially: that his friend really loves cheese and that neoliberal economics biases political leanings. I’ve been reading some institutionalist political economics lately (the study of the economy as a set of interrelated institutions: markets, the state, households, social norms, etc) and one thing that HJ Chang (who coined the name for this school of thought) mentioned was how, among even self-described left-leaning mainstream economists, there is an idolatry of markets, meaning markets are the ONLY economic institution of study (the state counts in terms of defining property rights). That view of the economy then gets translated into policies that rely mostly on so-called free markets to solve problems. Never mind that free-markets are historically impossible.