Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Brad DeLong — The Right’s Piketty Problem

To be sure, everyone disagrees with 10-20% of Piketty’s argument, and everyone is unsure about perhaps another 10-20%. But, in both cases, everyone has a different 10-20%. In other words, there is majority agreement that each piece of the book is roughly correct, which means that there is near-consensus that the overall argument of the book is, broadly, right. 
Unless Piketty’s right-wing critics step up their game and actually make some valid points, that will be the default judgment on Piketty’s book. No amount of Red-baiting or French-bashing will help.
Project Syndicate
The Right’s Piketty Problem
J. Bradford DeLong | Professor of Economics at the University of California at Berkeley and a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research. He was Deputy Assistant US Treasury Secretary during the Clinton Administratio

7 comments:

Dan Kervick said...

What an odd thing. Why is DeLong pleading with the right to come up with better criticisms? Is it because he is afraid of where Piketty's argument eventually leads, and the political and policy shakeup it portends? Perhaps he wants the right to do the dirty work for him so he can keep his hands clean and keep his Democratic cred shiny, but then move along back to his centrist bourgeois complacency.

Piketty has a graceful and discreet style that punctures many pompous balloons of economic hot air, and gently dismantles the arguments of the apologists for actually existing capitalism on their own ground, without a lot of noise and thunder.

Unknown said...

In my humble opinion, Brad Delong is fantastic and probably a bona fide genius.

"Why is DeLong pleading with the right to come up with better criticisms? "

He's not pleading, he's pointing out that they have few real arguments, as yet.

"his centrist bourgeois complacency".

Yes he is a centrist, but he's more jaded than complacent, I think.

Dan Kervick said...

I think Brad DeLong is extremely intelligent, and knows a lot about a lot of things. But I think his instincts are to preserve elite privilege and the established economic order, while doing a little bit to alleviate its most egregious excesses.

His overriding concern these days seems to be to build some sort of left-right technocratic consensus.

Unknown said...

"think his instincts are to preserve elite privilege and the established economic order, while doing a little bit to alleviate its most egregious excesses"

My impression is that he thinks hierarchical social structure is inevitable, but he thinks we should do the most we can to improve the lot for everyone. He is not idealistic. He refers to humans as "jumped up apes with big brains". He appears to have an eidetic memory, with most of human history stuffed into his head.

Unknown said...

That's not to say his opinions are necessarily correct, but I definitely don't think he's a bad guy. He's one of the good guys.

Magpie said...

"In my humble opinion, Brad Delong is fantastic and probably a bona fide genius."

Yeah. He's also ruggedly handsome and very sexy... :-)

Matt Franko said...

Mankiw weighs in at 25:00 in this Piketty interview here:

http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/04/29/thomas-piketty-inequality-gregory-mankiw