DeLong & I

The other day I wrote a post which Brad summarizes in his blog:

A man for any season: Before it was about “expansionary austerity”. Now it´s convenient to call for “self-financing fiscal stimulus”: In a “Man for all seasons”, we get the story of Thomas More  who stood up to King Henry VIII when the King rejected the Roman Catholic Church to obtain a divorce and remarriage. Now we have a duo – Larry Summers and Brad Delong – that “adapt” to the season at hand. In their just released paper – Fiscal Policy in a Depressed Economy – they say that in the “liquidity trap” situation America is in today temporary stimulus “may actually be self-financing”. Interestingly, when he was number two to Rubin (and later top Treasury honcho) during the Clinton Presidency (1993 – 2000), Larry Summers peddled “stimulative austerity”, the idea that to cut deficits would lower interest rates by enough to produce stronger growth…

And writes:

Now this really isn’t fair to Larry.

So I wrote, asking whether Nunes had actually read the paper.

It certainly did not sound like it.

I asked if I understood that we had explicitly argued in our paper that back in 1993 (when Alan Greenspan was very worried about long-term fiscal stability, and promised to make monetary policy easier in order to hold aggregate demand harmless if the Clinton administration undertook deficit reduction) the benefit-cost calculation was very different from what it is today (when Ben Bernanke is saying that he really would like some help from other branches from government).

What the benefit-cost calculation is depends on what the monetary-policy reaction function is, and different monetary-policy reaction functions lead to different appropriate fiscal policies.

Apparently the answer is no. Here’s what I got back, via email:

Mr “DeLong”

Given the quality of your comment I have to assume YOU are the bullshit artist impersonating someone else.

You have been excluded

The whole point of weblogging–if it has a point–is to create a more informed public sphere than the journalistic filter allows, not a less informed one.

My side of the story:

I was pleasantly surprised to come back from dinner and find that Brad had put up a comment.

I answered the comment and Benjamin Cole also commented on DeLong´s comment. Everything very civilized. The next day I found DeLong had replied to my comment but found the wording very strange. I was accused of calling Larry Summers a “bullshit artist” and that I “owed Larry an apology”.

I got suspicious, and then remembered that some time ago Scott Sumner had also received a comment from a “Brad DeLong” which had proven to be a fake. I even consulted Scott and he told me it was probably a fake because “The real DeLong wouldn´t say I had to “apologize to Larry”. So I deleted DeLong´s, Benjamin´s and my own comments and sent an e-mail to the apparently fake DeLong saying that he was the “bullshit” artist for impersonating someone else.

Now I find out that the comment had been from the “real thing”.

Who said that blogging cannot have “fun moments”!

Update: I´ve now tried two times to put a comment/explanation about what happened in DeLong´s blog (pasting a link to this post) but haven´t been allowed in!

7 thoughts on “DeLong & I

  1. fun? fun as in enjoyable? or fun as in I deleted the comment of the person I was trashing in my post as if to make it look that his words never existed?

    • Jeronimo – Read again. If you still can´t distinguish the meaning I gave to the word “fun”, either I´m not writing clearly or you have problems understanding written text.

  2. Marcus Nunes would never delete a post merely as it disagreed with his commentary.

    I am glad DeLong is paying attention to Marcus Nunes, and his superb blog. Market Monetarists need the Delongs and Krugmans to join our side.

  3. I have also tried to comment on DeLong’s post, and he will not allow posts.

    I have traded e-mails with DeLong, and have tried to affirm that it was a misunderstanding. He wants Marcus Nunes to apologize for misrepresenting Summers arguments.

    I hope we can build bridges rather than burn bridges.

  4. Brad DeLong has a history of accusing people of being “bullshit artists”; that’s why I was surprised you thought his comment was an impersonation.

    Brad DeLong also has a history of deleting posts that disagree with him. He should rename “Grasping reality with an invisible hand” to “Grasping control with an iron fist.” Reading his blog comments, you don’t know how much spin control he is exercising. It’s like being behind the iron curtain, where unfavorable comments silently disappear to the gulags.

    • Steve – I didn´t know that! I´ve only heard stories about how he “censors” comments. I´ve seen many times how he “swings the bat” against people who are critical of his friend krugman. Now I´ve experienced all that first hand. So I just posted an “Open letter to Delong”.

  5. Not that I’d doubt a second that Delong deletes comments, even if perfectly sound and on-topic, just because he doesn’t like them. But perhaps he’s just not interested in a debate about exactly what lead to the deletion of his comment, but rather in the issue at hand: his allegation that you did not read the paper, or not enough of it to get what he assumes to be a crucial point directly at odds with your original blog post. That is, that the Clinton period you are invoking in the original post, and therefore what Summers recommended back then, is a very bad proxy to compare with what Summers’ advice is now.

    Just to be clear: I think it’s highly unfortunate that Delong reacts the way he does – this episode about the blog post could be clarified easily enough if he just wouldn’t play the huffy kid. But then, who cares, really?

    From what he’s written on his blog, I sense that he is under the impression that he argued “explicitely” in the paper that your comparison with the Clinton era does not hold and that therefore your criticism of Summers in unfair. As far as I can see, you propped up your original idea with something the FT has written – but I have not seen you arguing with what Delong thinks makes your blog post worthless – which is to be found in his paper, not in the FT or in what Sumner has said…

    And I think in doing so you could shed further light on the real issue ad hands, whilst the endless back and forth about the various forms behavioral disorder in the economics blogosphere – and especially there, for some reason – is, frankly, quite boring by now (even if I understand your position in the dispute).

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