Hoisted from the Archives: Niall Ferguson Is Wrong to Say That He Is Doubly Stupid: Why Did Keynes Write “In the Long Run We Are All Dead”? Weblogging

Thinking how to talk about Schumpeter’s “Ricardian Vice” and the extremely peculiar boosting by economists formerly of note and reputation of the Trump corporate tax cut, and so revisiting this https://www.bradford-delong.com/2013/05/niall-ferguson-is-wrong-to-say-that-he-is-doubly-stupid-why-did-keynes-write-in-the-long-run-we-are-all-dead-weblogging.html:


Niall Ferguson:

An Open Letter to the Harvard Community: Last week I said something stupid about John Maynard Keynes.  Asked to comment on Keynes’ famous observation “In the long run we are all dead,” I suggested that Keynes was perhaps indifferent to the long run because he had no children, and that he had no children because he was gay. This was doubly stupid. First, it is obvious that people who do not have children also care about future generations. Second, I had forgotten that Keynes’ wife Lydia miscarried.

Niall is wrong. His suggestion was not doubly stupid. There is more.

Niall speaks of Keynes’s “In the long run we are all dead” as if it is a carpe diem argument–a “seize the day” argument, analogous to Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” or Herrick’s “To the Virgins”–and Ferguson sees his task as that of explaining why Keynes adopted this be-a-grasshopper-not-an-ant “party like we’re gonna die young!” form of economics, or perhaps form of morality.

But that is not it at all.

Go to Keynes’s Tract on Monetary Reform.

[Read pages 80-82, so you see the “in the long run we are all dead” quote in context.

It is not part of any carpe diem argument. Two sentences earlier we find:

If, after the American Civil War, that American dollar had been stabilized and defined by law at 10 per cent below its present value, it would be safe to assume that n and p would now be just 10 per cent greater than they actually are and that the present values of k, r, and k’ would be entirely unaffected.

Six sentences earlier we find:

[T]he [Quantity] Theory [of Money] has often been expounded on the further assumption that a mere change in the quantity of the currency cannot affect k, r, and k’,–that is to say, in mathematical parlance, that n is an independent variable in relation to these quantities.

Two sentences later we find:

In actual experience, a change in n is liable to have a reaction both on k and k’ and on r.

And six sentences later we find:

There was a decided tendency on the part of these banks between 1900 and 1914 to bottle up gold when it flowed towards them and to part with it reluctantly when the tide was flowing the other way.

Keynes is discussing not how to “seize the day” for pleasure, but rather how to use the quantity theory of money. What he is saying is that you cannot assume that you can analyze the consequences of an altered time path of the quantity of cash in the economy–n, in Keynes’s notation–without considering whether the public’s demand for real cash balances k, the public’s demand for real checking-account balances k’, and banks’ desired reserves-to-deposits ratio r will also change. This is a principle that today’s economists call the “Lucas Critique”. (No, it is not clear to me why they do not call it the “Keynes Critique.) And this critique is correct: assume that those three other variables are not themselves altered when you consider an altered path for the money stock is, as Keynes says in the sentence after “in the long run…”, for economists to set themselves too easy a task–it sweeps all the problems of analysis under the rug–and too useless a task–it generates predictions that are simply wrong.

In this extended discussion of how to use the quantity theory of money, the sentence “In the long run we are all dead” performs an important rhetorical role. It wakes up the reader, and gets him or her to reset an attention that may well be flagging. But it has absolutely nothing to do with attitudes toward the future, or with rates of time discount, or with a heedless pursuit of present pleasure.

So why do people think it does?

Note that we are speaking not just of Ferguson here, but of Mankiw and Hayek and Schumpeter and Himmelfarb and Peter Drucker and McCraw and even Heilbronner–along with many others.

I blame it on Hayek and Schumpeter. They appear to be the wellsprings.

Hayek is simply a bad actor–knowingly dishonest. In what Nicholas Wapshott delicately calls “misappropriation”, Hayek does not just quote “In the long run we are all dead” out of context but gives it a false context he makes up:

Are we not even told that, since ‘in the long run we are all dead’, policy should be guided entirely by short run considerations? I fear that these believers in the principle of apres nous le déluge may get what they have bargained for sooner than they wish.

And Hayek’s bad-faith writing yielded a lot of fruit: cf. Himmelfarb:

[S]omething of the “soul” of Bloomsbury penetrated even into Keynes’s economic theories. There is a discernible affinity between the Bloomsbury ethos, which put a premium on immediate and present satisfactions, and Keynesian economics, which is based entirely on the short run and precludes any long-term judgments. (Keynes’s famous remark. “In the long run we are all dead,” also has an obvious connection with his homosexuality – what Schumpeter delicately referred to as his “childless vision.”) The same ethos is reflected in the Keynesian doctrine that consumption rather than saving is the source of economic growth – indeed, that thrift is economically and socially harmful. In The Economic Consequences of the Peace, written long before The General Theory, Keynes ridiculed the “virtue” of saving. The capitalists, he said, deluded the working classes into thinking that their interests were best served by saving rather than consuming. This delusion was part of the age-old Puritan fallacy:

The duty of “saving” became nine-tenths of virtue and the growth of the cake the object of true religion. There grew round the non-consumption of the cake all those instincts of puritanism which in other ages has withdrawn itself from the world and has neglected the arts of production as well as those of enjoyment. And so the cake increased; but to what end was not clearly contemplated. Individuals would be exhorted not so much to abstain as to defer, and to cultivate the pleasures of security and anticipation. Saving was for old age or for your children; but this was only in theory – the virtue of the cake was that it was never to be consumed, neither by you nor by your children after you.

Never mind that Himmelfarb cuts off her quote from Keynes just before Keynes writes that he approves of this Puritan fallacy–that he is not, as Himmelfarb claims, ridiculing it, but rather praising it:

In the unconscious recesses of its being Society knew what it was about. The cake was really very small in proportion to the appetites of consumption, and no one, if it were shared all round, would be much the better off by the cutting of it. Society was working not for the small pleasures of today but for the future security and improvement of the race,—in fact for “progress.” If only the cake were not cut but was allowed to grow in the geometrical proportion predicted by Malthus of population, but not less true of compound interest, perhaps a day might come when there would at last be enough to go round, and when posterity could enter into the enjoyment of our labors…

So if you do read Himmelfarb, do so with great caution: this is a strange woman indeed[1].

As for Schumpeter, in Schumpeter’s Keynes obituary Schumpeter is working as hard as he can to try to minimize Keynes’s global influence:

[England’s] social fabric had been weakened and had become rigid. Her taxes and wage rates were incompatible with vigorous development, yet there was nothing that could be done about it. Keynes was not… in the habit of bemoaning what could not be changed… not the sort of man who would bend the full force of his mind to the individual problems of coal, textiles, steel, shipbuilding…. He was the English intellectual, a little deracine and beholding a most uncomfortable situation. He was childless and his philosophy of life was essentially a short-run philosophy. So he turned resolutely to the only “parameter of action” that seemed left… monetary management. Perhaps he thought that it might heal. He knew for certain that it would sooth–and that return to a gold system at pre-war parity was more than his England could stand. If only people could be made to understand this, they would also understand that practical Keynesianism is a seedling which cannot be transplanted into foreign soil: it dies there and becomes poisonous be- fore it dies.

[“Childless”] is a truly classless move given Keynes’s wife Lydia Lopokova’s two miscarriages–the best we can hope for Schumpeter is that his self-absorption in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s had kept him from ever learning about them. There was when I was an undergraduate an oral tradition that Schumpeter’s “childless” was a sotto voce synonym for “homosexual”–I presume Himmelfarb picked that up from similar sources to those I heard it from.

But Schumpeter, at least, does not cite “In the long run we are all dead” as evidence for the proposition that Keynes’s “philosophy of life was essentially a short-run philosophy”. Instead, he simply asserts that Keynes’s “philosophy of life was essentially a short-run philosophy”.

Is there any evidence that Keynes’s “philosophy of life was essentially a short-run philosophy” that unjustly neglected the long run? Keynes would have denied it: Keynes would have said that he gave proper balance to the short run and the long run. But, he would have added, it is also the case–as Skidelsky quotes him in The Economist as Saviour–that:

Burke ever held, and held rightly, that it can seldom be right… to sacrifice a present benefit for a doubtful advantage in the future…. It is not wise to look too far ahead; our powers of prediction are slight, our command over results infinitesimal. It is therefore the happiness of our own contemporaries that is our main concern; we should be very chary of sacrificing large numbers of people for the sake of a contingent end, however advantageous that may appear…. We can never know enough to make the chance worth taking…

So here we have it: not Herrick or Marvell or decadent Bloomsbury. Instead, Edmund Burke. Not a heedless disregard for the future, but a sober acknowledgement of the limited power of the brains of jumped-up East African Plains Apes like us to even see the long-run, and a plea not to sacrifice those currently alive to the Dreadful Moloch of Utopian Fantasies of the Future.

Schumpeter has, I think, considerable explaining to do.

As does Hayek.

As does Himmelfarb.

The rest–the Fergusons and the McCraws and the Druckers and the Heilbronners and company? At the very least, they need to explain why they didn’t check their “In the long run we are all dead” quotes against the context, and why doing so did not then lead them to have an Inigo Montoya moment as they said: “wait a minute–this doesn’t mean what I thought it meant”.

[1] Himmelfarb, writing in 1960:

The familiar racist sentiments of Buchan, Kipling, even Conrad, were a reflection of a common attitude. They were descriptive, not prescriptive; not an incitement to novel political action, but an attempt to express differences of culture and colour in terms that had been unquestioned for generations. To-day, when differences of race have attained the status of problems–and tragic problems–writers with the best of motives and finest of sensibilities must often take refuge in evasion and subterfuge. Neutral, scientific words replace the old charged ones, and then, because even the neutral ones–“Negro” in place of “nigger”–give offense, in testifying to differences that men of goodwill would prefer forgotten, disingenuous euphemisms are invented–“non-white” in place of “Negro”. It is at this stage that one may find a virtue of sorts in Buchan: the virtue of candor, which has both an aesthetic and an ethical appeal…

That somebody could–in 1960–write of how “to-day… differences of race have attained the status of problems–and tragic problems” as opposed to 1920, when presumably differences of race were not problems? Feh!

#hoistedfromthearchives #ferguson #keynes #historyofeconomicthought #moralresponsibility #racism 

“In the Long Run We Are All Dead” in Context…

John Maynard Keynes (1923): A Tract on Monetary Reform”, pp. 80-82: “[T]he [Quantity] Theory [of Money] has often been expounded on the further assumption that a mere change in the quantity of the currency cannot affect k, r, and k’,—that is to say, in mathematical parlance, that n is an independent variable in relation to these quantities. It would follow from this that an arbitrary doubling of n, since this in itself is assumed not to affect k, r, and k’, must have the effect of raising p to double what it would have been otherwise. The Quantity Theory is often stated in this, or a similar, form…

…Now “in the long run” this is probably true. If, after the American Civil War, that American dollar had been stabilized and defined by law at 10 per cent below its present value, it would be safe to assume that n and p would now be just 10 per cent greater than they actually are and that the present values of k, r, and k’ would be entirely unaffected. But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the ocean will be flat again.

In actual experience, a change in n is liable to have a reaction both on k and k’ and on r. It will be enough to give a few typical instances:

  • Before the war (and indeed since) there was a considerable element of what was conventional and arbitrary in the reserve policy of the banks, but especially in the policy of the State Banks towards their gold reserves. These reserves were kept for show rather than for use, and their amount was not the result of close reasoning. There was a decided tendency on the part of these banks between 1900 and 1914 to bottle up gold when it flowed towards them and to part with it reluctantly when the tide was flowing the other way. Consequently, when gold became relatively abundant they tended to hoard what came their way and to raise the proportion of the reserves, with the result that the increased output of South African gold was absorbed with less effect on the price level than would have been the case if an increase of n had been totally without reaction on the value of r.

  • In agricultural countries where peasants readily hoard money, an inflation, especially in its early stages, does not raise prices proportionately, because when, as a result of a certain rise in the price of agricultural products, more money flows into the pockets of the peasants, it tends to stick there;—deeming themselves that much richer, the peasants increase the proportion of their receipts that they hoard.

Thus in these and in other ways the terms of our equation tend in their movements to favor the stability of p, and there is a certain friction which prevents a moderate change in n from exercising its full proportionate effect on p.

On the other hand a large change in n, which rubs away the initial friction, and especially a change in n due to causes whichset up a general expectation of a further increase in the same direction, may produce a more than proportionate effect on p. After the general analysis of Chapter I. and the narratives of catastrophic inflations given in Chapter II., it is scarcely necessary to illustrate this further,—it is a matter more readily understood than it was ten years ago.

A large change in p greatly affects individual fortunes. Hence a change after it has occurred, or sooner in so far as it is anticipated, may greatly affect the monetary habits of the public in their attempt to protect themselves from a similar loss in the future, or to make gains and avoid loss during the passage from the equilibrium corresponding to the old value of n to the equilibrium corresponding to its new value. Thus after, during, and (so far as the change is anticipated) before a change in the value of n, there will be some reaction on the values of k, k’, and r, with the result that the change in the value of p, at least temporarily and perhaps permanently (since habits and practices, once changed, will not revert to exactly their old shape), will not be precisely in proportion to the change in n…

John Maynard Keynes (1923): A Tract on Monetary Reform https://delong.typepad.com/keynes-1923-a-tract-on-monetary-reform.pdf

#shouldread #keyners #monetaryeconomics #monetarypolicy #books #economicsgoneright 

Blogging: What to Expect Here…

Blogging we are going to need more monkeys Google SearchBlogging we are going to need more monkeys Google SearchBlogging we are going to need more monkeys Google Search

The purpose of this weblog is to be the best possible portal into what I am thinking, what I am reading, what I think about what I am reading, and what other smart people think about what I am reading…

“Bring expertise, bring a willingness to learn, bring good humor, bring a desire to improve the world—and also bring a low tolerance for lies and bullshit…” — Brad DeLong

“I have never subscribed to the notion that someone can unilaterally impose an obligation of confidentiality onto me simply by sending me an unsolicited letter—or an email…” — Patrick Nielsen Hayden

“I can safely say that I have learned more than I ever would have imagined doing this…. I also have a much better sense of how the public views what we do. Every economist should have to sell ideas to the public once in awhile and listen to what they say. There’s a lot to learn…” — Mark Thoma

“Tone, engagement, cooperation, taking an interest in what others are saying, how the other commenters are reacting, the overall health of the conversation, and whether you’re being a bore…” — Teresa Nielsen Hayden

“With the arrival of Web logging… my invisible college is paradise squared, for an academic at least. Plus, web logging is an excellent procrastination tool…. Plus, every legitimate economist who has worked in government has left swearing to do everything possible to raise the level of debate and to communicate with a mass audience…. Web logging is a promising way to do that…” — Brad DeLong

“Blogs are an outlet for unexpurgated, unreviewed, and occasionally unprofessional musings…. At Chicago, I found that some of my colleagues overestimated the time and effort I put into my blog—which led them to overestimate lost opportunities for scholarship. Other colleagues maintained that they never read blogs—and yet, without fail, they come into my office once every two weeks to talk about a post of mine…” — Daniel Drezner

#workingmemory #publicsphere #internet #weblogging #weblogs 

I Want a FiveThirtyEight Post-Mortem!

Across the Wide Missouri: I would like Nate Silver and company to give an explanation for this:

Midterm Election Map 2018 Live Results ABC News

I suspect that three things went on:

  1. Around 8 PM EST the model took the behavior of white southerners as indicative of the behavior of whites elsewhere in the country—and that was a mistake, for white southerners really are a different ethnicity.

  2. It really was a knife-edge situation: if the Democrats had only won the popular vote by 7 percentage points instead of 9, they would not now control the House.

  3. The left-hand graph is miscalibrated: an 85% probability should not swing up to a 95% and then down to 40% before settling at 60% and then converging to 100% with the actual Democraic seat gain being equal to the original expected value…

#acrossthewidemissouri #politics #statistics 

Weekend Reading: Keynes Quoting Malthus

John Maynard Keynes: The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money: “The doctrine did not reappear in respectable circles for another century, until in the later phase of Malthus the notion of the insufficiency of effective demand takes a definite place as a scientific explanation of unemployment. Since I have already dealt with this somewhat fully in my essay on Malthus, it will be sufficient if I repeat here one or two characteristic passages…

…We see in almost every part of the world vast powers of production which are not put into action, and I explain this phenomenon by saying that from the want of a proper distribution of the actual produce adequate motives are not furnished to continued production. … I distinctly maintain that an attempt to accumulate very rapidly, which necessarily implies a considerable diminution of unproductive consumption, by greatly impairing the usual motives to production must prematurely check the progress of wealth…. But if it be true that an attempt to accumulate very rapidly will occasion such a division between labour and profits as almost to destroy both the motive and the power of future accumulation and consequently the power of maintaining and employing an increasing population, must it not be acknowledged that such an attempt to accumulate, or that saving too much, may be really prejudicial to a country?

The question is whether this stagnation of capital, and subsequent stagnation in the demand for labour arising from increased production without an adequate proportion of unproductive consumption on the part of the landlords and capitalists, could take place without prejudice to the country, without occasioning a less degree both of happiness and wealth than would have occurred if the unproductive consumption of the landlords and capitalists had been so proportioned to the natural surplus of the society as to have continued uninterrupted the motives to production, and prevented first an unnatural demand for labour and then a necessary and sudden diminution of such demand. But if this be so, how can it be said with truth that parsimony, though it may be prejudicial to the producers, cannot be prejudicial to the state; or that an increase of unproductive consumption among landlords and capitalists may not sometimes be the proper remedy for a state of things in which the motives to production fails?

Adam Smith has stated that capitals are increased by parsimony, that every frugal man is a public benefactor, and that the increase of wealth depends upon the balance of produce above consumption. That these propositions are true to a great extent is perfectly unquestionable…. But it is quite obvious that they are not true to an indefinite extent, and that the principles of saving, pushed to excess, would destroy the motive to production. If every person were satisfied with the simplest food, the poorest clothing and the meanest houses, it is certain that no other sort of food, clothing, and lodging would be in existence…. The two extremes are obvious; and it follows that there must be some intermediate point, though the resources of political economy may not be able to ascertain it, where, taking into consideration both the power to produce and the will to consume, the encouragement to the increase of wealth is the greatest.

Of all the opinions advanced by able and ingenious men, which I have ever met with, the opinion of M. Say, which states that: un product consommé ou détruit est un débouché fermé (I. i. ch. 15), appears to me to be the most directly opposed to just theory, and the most uniformly contradicted by experience. Yet it directly follows from the new doctrine, that commodities are to be considered only in their relation to each other—not to the consumers. What, I would ask, would become of the demand for commodities, if all consumption except bread and water were suspended for the next half-year? What an accumulation of commodities! Quels débouchés! What a prodigious market would this event occasion![39]

Ricardo, however, was stone-deaf to what Malthus was saying. The last echo of the controversy is to be found in John Stuart Mill’s discussion of his Wages-Fund Theory, which in his own mind played a vital part in his rejection of the later phase of Malthus, amidst the discussions of which he had, of course, been brought up. Mill’s successors rejected his Wages-Fund Theory but overlooked the fact that Mill’s refutation of Malthus depended on it. Their method was to dismiss the problem from the corpus of Economics not by solving it but by not mentioning it. It altogether disappeared from controversy. Mr. Cairncross, searching recently for traces of it amongst the minor Victorians, has found even less, perhaps, than might have been expected. Theories of under-consumption hibernated until the appearance in 1889 of The Physiology of Industry, by J. A. Hobson and A. F. Mummery…

#shouldread #historyofeconomicthought #keynes #malthus #aggregatedemand 

Scam o Rama

Scam o Rama: Quit While You’re Ahead: “Another missive from Thomas Mallory, last heard from in The Flying Savimbi Brothers. Note: Just so you know: Mr. Mallory’s attorney, Melanie Rourke, is possibly meaner than Lonslo Tossov. We actually edited some of her dialogue. We just felt the need. Mr. Mallory was very nice about it. Call us politically correct if you like. Just don’t call us late for dinner…

…Dear Scamorama: Here it is—my masterpiece. I call it “Thomas Mallory VS Albert Abossi: Trouble A Head.” It’s all here, friends. An urgent plea for help. A living human head, the victim of a ‘failed body transplant.’ Loneliness. Friendship. Trust. Life. Betrayal. Death. Lawyers. Returns from the dead. More lawyers, Western Union, mothers who ‘collarpse,’ and so much more! Briefly, here is the cast: THOMAS MALLORY—A living human head, kept alive by a life support machine housed deep in the lowest sub-basement of the Biology Building at Miskatonic University in scenic Arkham, Massachusetts. The object of our scammer’s dim-witted attentions…

#shouldread #acrossthewidemissouri #miskatonicuniversity #orderoftheshrill 

Weekend Reading: Robert Solow: A Theory Is a Sometime Thing

Robert Solow: A theory Is a Sometime Thing: “Milton Friedman… aims to undermine the eclectic American Keynesianism of the 1950s and 1960s… goes after two… lines of thought. His first claim is that the central bank, the Fed, cannot ‘peg’ the real interest rate… to undermine the standard LM curve…. The Fed can peg the nominal federal funds rate, but not the real rate…

…”These… effects will reverse the initial downward pressure on interest rates fairly promptly, say, in something less than a year. Together they will tend, after a somewhat longer interval, say, a year or two, to return interest rates to the level they would otherwise have had” (Friedman 1968, p. 6). Now we know what ‘peg’ means…. The goal, remember, is to contradict the eclectic American Keynesian… which did not, after all, require the Fed to control real interest rates forever. If the Fed can have meaningful influence only for less than a year or two, then it is surely playing a losing game, especially in view of those ‘long and variable lags.’ Is that really so?…

After Paul Volcker’s appointment… the real funds rate had been fluctuating around zero… rose sharply to about 5 percent and fluctuated around that level for the next six years…. This sustained 5 percentage point increase in the real funds rate was… a deliberate intervention, designed to end the ‘double-digit’ inflation of the early 1970s, and it did so, with real side-effects. This chain of events could not have worked through any ‘misperception’ mechanism; there was no secret about what the Volcker Fed was doing. So the Fed was in fact able to control (‘peg’) its real policy rate, not for a year or two but for at least six years, certainly long enough for the normal conduct of counter-cyclical monetary policy to be effective…. The difference between ‘a year or two’ and ‘half a dozen years’ is not a small matter. This part of Friedman’s demolition project seems to have failed as pragmatic economics, although it may have succeeded in persuading the economics profession.

The second, and even more striking, contribution of the 1968 presidential address was Friedman’s introduction of the ‘natural rate of unemployment’ along with the long-run vertical Phillips curve and its accelerationist implications…. I do not have to repeat Friedman’s classic discussion of the consequences if the Fed (or anyone) attempts to push the actual unemployment rate below the natural rate: higher monetary growth, at first increased spending, output and employment, as prices adjust with a lag to the new state of demand. But eventually the rate of inflation, whatever it was before, increases and this gets built into expectations…. So the Fed has to create even faster monetary growth to sustain the lower unemployment rate, and you know the rest. Once again, we can imagine such a world; Friedman’s claim is that we live in it…. For a brief period in the 1970s and early 1980s, this simple model seemed to do well: if you plot the change in the inflation rate against the unemployment rate (see Modigliani and Papademos 1975), you get a decent downward-sloping scatter that crosses the u-axis at a reasonably defined natural rate or NAIRU). At other times, not so much….

Olivier Blanchard (2016)…. First, there is still a Phillips curve… Second, expectations of inflation have become more and more ‘anchored’…. Third, the slope of the Phillips curve itself has been getting flatter, ever since the 1980s, and is now quite small. And last, the standard error around the Phillips curve is large; the relationship is not well defined in the data. Taken together, these last two findings imply that there is no well-defined natural rate of unemployment, either statistically or conceptually…. This is very different from the story told so confidently and fluently in the 1968 address.

My mind kept returning to a famous line of dramatic verse: was this the face that launched a thousand ships?… Milton Friedman’s presidential address… may not have burnt the topless towers of Ilium, but it certainly helped lead macroeconomics to its current state of refined irrelevance. The financial crisis and the recession that followed it may have planted some second thoughts, but even that is not certain. A few major failures like those I have registered in this note may not be enough for a considered rejection of Friedman’s doctrine and its various successors. But they are certainly enough to justify intense skepticism, especially among economists, for whom skepticism should be the default mental setting anyway. So why did those thousand ships sail for so long, why did those ideas float for so long, without much resistance? I don’t have a settled answer.

One can speculate. Maybe a patchwork of ideas like eclectic American Keynesianism, held together partly by duct tape, is always at a disadvantage compared with a monolithic doctrine that has an answer for everything, and the same answer for everything. Maybe that same monolithic doctrine reinforced and was reinforced by the general shift of political and social preferences to the right that was taking place at about the same time. Maybe this bit of intellectual history was mainly an accidental concatenation of events, personalities, and dispositions. And maybe this is the sort of question that is better discussed while toasting marshmallows around a dying campfire.

#shouldread #weekendreading #monetarypolicy #monetaryeconomics #economicsgonewrong