« ECON 102 Reading | Main | ECON 102 - What were we talking about today? »



Caleigh Wells

Simon Wren-Lewis’s response to Niall Ferguson’s assertion is interesting, but above all his writing style and the level to which he allows his personal feelings towards that assertion to seep into his writing becomes distracting. In his first statement he refers to Ferguson’s “disastrous attempt to [make a] claim” against Keynesian economics as “nonsense.” Lewis’s introduction alone takes away from his reliability as a reputable source. He goes on to belittle Ferguson by stating that his theory garnered media attention only because of his name, which invalidates not only Ferguson, but the author himself, since he never uses a reputable source throughout his article to support his rebuttal. Our only reason to believe his claims in opposition to Ferguson’s “economic quackery” rests on his title of Economics Professor at Oxford, which appears insufficient only because he draws attention to it by criticizing Ferguson using that same fact.

The author’s criticism is built on the theme that Ferguson’s claim appears valid only because of the information he fails to provide his audience. Lewis corrects that mistake by enumerating a list of facts that prove Ferguson to be inaccurate. None of these facts come from a cited source, which induces an unintentional sense of skepticism in the reader. Overall his points are interesting and his professional expertise very likely allows him to make an informed opinion on Ferguson’s assertion, but his opinionated, insulting language of Ferguson coupled with a lack of supporting evidence in his article makes this piece appear to be more focused on criticizing one individual than informing those who read it.


I thought this article was interesting as it touched on what we talked about in class. That is, whether or not government intervention is good or bad. I would like to talk more about this in class. There are many accounts of government intervention but there seems to be one big example that everyone talks about: the Great Depression. There is also a lot of controversy as to whether or not it was handled correctly. I would like to see different examples where government intervention did or did not work. For example, the currency in Brazil is a prime example of a successful government intervention. I think examples like these would be interesting to explore.


Jack Miller^^^

Mary Hampton McNeal

I found the casual format of Wren-Lewis’s post very engaging. One of the goals I have for this course is to be able to understand when a politician’s economic policy proposals are impractical. Fittingly, this post discusses the practicality of the conservative ideal of fiscal austerity. In Wren-Lewis’s opinion, there are “economic quacks” who reinforce right wing agendas by claiming that fiscal austerity is more effective than deficit spending. Wren-Lewis discusses how James Bartholomew cited papers by Alesina that had been popular at one time but ultimately discredited, as well as how Bartholomew pointed to very specific cases in which fiscal policy did not create the intended outcome.

Essentially, it seems that you can find support, albeit weak support, for any economic policy you want to peddle. This makes me nervous as a voter in the upcoming election, because I would not want to be misled by the dubious economic proposals of the candidates. The main thing that I drew from this article is that there will always be an economist willing to support the economic proposals of a political candidate or party. An educated voter has to deduce whether the facts truly support these economic policy proposals. This is a task that I hope I will be more prepared for after this course.

Tony Du

In the blog post, Wren-Lewis discusses the dangers of accepting anti-Keynesian policies. He criticizes advocates of "economic quackery" that spout misinformation to conform to right wing agenda. In critiquing James Bartholomew, Wren-Lewis notes how frail the evidence he provides is. First, the policy proposed by the papers by ALesina et al led to a second Eurozone recession. Wren-Lewis also explains why historical examples of fiscal action are not adequate enough to deny fiscal action. Macroeconomics as a whole is influenced by many different things, so specific examples supporting any claim can be found. Nevertheless, econometric studies are overwhelmingly in favor of fiscal action.

According to Wren-Lewis, denial of Keynesian economics is a threat to the economy. Interestingly enough, Wren-Lewis addresses the political right of Europe and the UK, a group far less extreme than the political right of the United States. I would be interested in hearing his thoughts on the political right "across the Atlantic", especially with the amount of anti-science misinformation being thrown around.

I am curious as to how 'conservative' economics has survived so long. If denying Keynesian economics is anti-science, how has it maintained its prevalence in modern politics?

Ryan McDonnell

Simon Wren-Lewis’s article is interesting because of how strongly he opposes the work of people like Bartholomew. He claims that Bartholomew skews the picture of the economy in Great Britain and Europe by omitting plenty of necessary information. Also intriguing is his claim that “anyone can write this kind of stuff about anything in macroeconomics…there are lots of things going on.” Similar to what we talked about in class, it is easy to create a poor model because the world is very complicated. Consequently, he claims that politicians may be lying about where they get their information on the economy from in order to promote their own policies. Policies should be influenced by quality economic analysis, but economic analysis should not be influenced by policies. It is interesting that he points to “econometric studies” as a good tool to show the effectiveness of fiscal policies. Why is that so? Also, toward the end of the article, he mentions the situation in the USA, where “with the left in disarray and flirting with non-mainstream economics, the right has an excellent opportunity…[to] cast off the quackery of the Ferguson and Bartholomew ilk.” I would love to learn why the left is “flirting with non-mainstream economics,” because it seems that the economy has done well under Obama.

The comments to this entry are closed.