Težave z Berniejem (1)

David Dayen v New Republic obrne puščico proti prominentnim liberalnim ekonomistom iz vrst predsednikov Sveta ekonomskih svetovalcev demokratskim predsednikom, ki so napadli Friedmanovo študijo glede učinkov programa Bernieja Sandersa. Dayen pokaže na njihove lastne napačne napovedi v preteklosti. In pravi, da njihovo argumentiranje iz piedestala avtoritete ni na mestu ter da naj tisti, ki nima nobenega greha, prvi vrže kamen.

Far too much of the Democratic primary has been consumed with determining the boundaries of what is and is not serious. Four former chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers under Presidents Clinton and Obama provided the latest example this week, writing an open letter to castigate a fellow economist, Gerald Friedman of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Friedman conducted a study of how the economy would react over the next ten years if Bernie Sanders’s entire program—free college, universal health care, new infrastructure spending, an expanded Social Security, the works—were adopted. And it included some very optimistic numbers: the creation of 26 million jobs over the next ten years, annual economic growth of 5.3 percent, and a return of the labor force participation rate back to 1999 levels. The Sanders campaign didn’t appear to solicit the Friedman study, but it has been citing it to the media.

The Democratic CEA chairs—Laura D’Andrea Tyson, Christina Romer, Austan Goolsbee, and Alan Krueger—believe these numbers undermine their efforts “to make the Democratic Party the party of evidence-based economic policy.” They add: “These claims undermine the credibility of the progressive economic agenda and make it that much more difficult to challenge the unrealistic claims made by Republican candidates.”

The truth is that most economic forecasts that look several years into the future are flawed, almost by definition. This is a sprawling country with countless different economic inputs and knock-on effects that are incredibly difficult to accurately predict with a model.  Unexpected exogenous events and misinterpreted implications can make forecasts vary sharply with reality, no matter how carefully they’re constructed. There’s no right or wrong way to divine results from policies, and saying so actually makes you look far less evidence-based than you think. The best example of this comes from the reports of these four CEA chairs themselves.

The point is this: Economic forecasts are a tricky business. They are not a dividing line between “savvy” and “unsavvy” economists, because the allegedly savvy ones get things wrong just as spectacularly and just as often as the allegedly unsavvy ones. 

What’s more troubling is how Democratic mainstream economists use these tactics to boot anyone not preaching from the incrementalist gospel out of the serious club. There are problems with Friedman’s projections; it’s unlikely that we will regain the same labor force participation as the late 1990s when the population now is so much older, for example. But the ferocity of the response—from people who have spent their careers making flawed economic forecasts—suggests that the real issue here is that the establishment is uncomfortable with the more far-reaching aspects of the Sanders economic agenda.

Instead of going point by point on those agenda items, the CEA chairs decided to argue from authority, dismissing Friedman’s numbers as prima facie absurd. This “do you know who I am?” style of argument, first off, is just a bad look if the goal is to persuade. But it also ignores how there is no real authority when it comes to making decade-long economic forecasts. Some humility on that front would be in order.

Vir: David Dayen, New Republic

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