Monday, February 2, 2009

Schooling the Chicago School

John Cochrane, University of Chicago economist was quoted in a story in Bloomberg Muse of December 23, 2008

“We should have a recession,” Cochrane said in November, speaking to students and investors in a conference room that looks out on Lake Michigan. “People who spend their lives pounding nails in Nevada need something else to do.”

(Sure. like nothing to do as in unemployed. Spoken like a man with a secure job!)

Diedre McCloskey now an economist at the University of Illinois, Chicago, remembers laughing with fellow Harvard undergraduates in 1963 at Friedman’s claim that free markets allocate resources better than governments. She says Harvard-trained bureaucrats enjoyed prestige following World War II. She switched her support to Friedman after the Vietnam War destroyed her faith that such bureaucrats knew what they were doing.
(The problem is that Wall Street may not know what it is doing!)

ON The Other Side:
On Oct. 14, 2007,about 250 students and professors debated an administration-backed plan for a $200 million research center to be named for Friedman. The protesters argued that the institute would enshrine policies that have brought economies near collapse.

“When Friedman’s Platonic ideas of free-market virtues are put into practice, they have too often generated a systemic orgy of competitive greed -- whose remedies, ironically, entail countermeasures of nationalization,” Marshall Sahlins, an emeritus professor of anthropology, said during the debate, speaking in a room adorned with murals of female students parading through the campus in medieval gowns.
Sahlins, 77, noted a few weeks later socialist and capitalist countries alike are regulating or nationalizing financial institutions in a rebuff to Friedman.
Off campus, the global meltdown is stirring anti-Chicago economists, who were voices in the wilderness during decades of lax government oversight of markets.

Joseph Stiglitz, who won one of Columbia’s economics Nobels, says the approach of Friedman and his followers helped cause today’s turmoil.
“The Chicago School bears the blame for providing a seeming intellectual foundation for the idea that markets are self- adjusting and the best role for government is to do nothing,” says Stiglitz, 65, who received his Nobel in 2001.
University of Texas economist James Galbraith says Friedman’s ideology has run its course. He says hands-off policies were convenient for American capitalists after World War II as they vied with government-favored labor unions at home and Soviet expansion overseas.
“The inability of Friedman’s successors to say anything useful about what’s happening in financial markets today means their influence is finished,” he says.

Robert Lucas, Chicago economist who won a Nobel in 1995 for a theory that argued against governments trying to fine-tune consumer demand, says deregulation may have gone too far.
Depression-era laws that separated commercial and investment banks helped depositors decide if they wanted secure accounts or riskier investments. Today, without these distinctions, people can’t be sure if their investments, or those of their customers, are safe.
“I’m changing my views on bank regulation every week,” Lucas, 71, says. “It was an area I saw as under control. Now I don’t believe that.”
Lucas says he voted for Obama, the only Democrat besides Bill Clinton he’d supported in 44 years.
(There is hope, some people learn!)

1 comment:

DLW said...

hope you might post on the idea of incorporating proportional representation into state house elections at "a new kind of third party" sometime soon...

Its gonna come up. I've been doing some good networking and it'll be part of Google's 10 to the 100th contest on the 17th of March of this year.

Here's my ideal-type 5 priorities for reform and here's my profile where I give a tribute to Dr Warren Samuels as among my favorite philosophers.