Economic Geniuses

The Richmond Fed’s Kartik Athreya has decreed that only the knob-twisting, interest-rate tweaking Banking Priestly Class should be allowed to talk about economics.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard puts him in his place:

Like a mad aunt, the Fed is slowly losing its marbles.

Kartik Athreya, senior economist for the Richmond Fed, has written a paper condemning economic bloggers as chronically stupid and a threat to public order.

Matters of economic policy should be reserved to a priesthood with the correct post-doctoral credentials, which would of course have excluded David Hume, Adam Smith, and arguably John Maynard Keynes (a mathematics graduate, with a tripos foray in moral sciences).

“Writers who have not taken a year of PhD coursework in a decent economics department (and passed their PhD qualifying exams), cannot meaningfully advance the discussion on economic policy.”

Don’t you just love that throw-away line “decent”? Dr Athreya hails from the University of Iowa. […]

Dr Athreya’s assertions cannot be allowed to pass. The current generation of economists have led the world into a catastrophic cul de sac. And if they think we are safely on the road to recovery, they still fail to understand what they did.

Central banks were the ultimate authors of the credit crisis since it is they who set the price of credit too low, throwing the whole incentive structure of the capitalist system out of kilter, and more or less forcing banks to chase yield and engage in destructive behaviour.

They ran ever-lower real interests with each cycle, allowed asset bubbles to run unchecked (Ben Bernanke was the cheerleader of that particular folly), blamed Anglo-Saxon over-consumption on excess Asian savings (half true, but still the silliest cop-out of all time), and believed in the neanderthal doctrine of “inflation targeting”.

Zero Hedge’s “Tyler Durden” gets his hacks in here:

Some Fed economist (with a hard-earned Ph.D mind you) named Kartik Athreya (who lasted at Citigroup as an associate Vice President for a whopping 7 months before getting sacked in 1998 only to find solace for his expiring unemployment benefits in the public sector) has written the most idiotic "research" piece to come out of the Federal Reserve since 1913, and the Fed has written a lot of idiotic research since then – after all you don't destroy 98% of the dollar's purchasing power in 97 years with non-idiotic research. But this just takes the cake. In "Economics is Hard. Don’t Let Bloggers Tell You Otherwise" Kartik says: "I argue that neither non-economist bloggers, nor economists who portray economics – especially macroeconomic policy – as a simple enterprise with clear conclusions, are likely to contribute any insight to discussion of economics and, as a result, should be ignored by an open-minded lay public." Alas, all Kartik achieves is to convince the general public that feeding Fed "economists" alcohol after midnight and letting them directly upload their resultant gibberish to the Fed's broad RSS feed the second they think they have a coherent thought , is generally a disastrous idea.

It’s worth noting that in his piece, Hawkeye grad Athrey mostly goes after liberal pundits like Matthew Yglesias, Robert Samuelson, and Robert Reich (which gives you a good idea of whom Fed bankers are reading). Such people generally support the Fed in its attempts to “manage” the economy; they just disagree on the details. Athrey doesn’t address those who think that something like a central bank is a terrible idea in the first place and shouldn’t exist. Such people, I gather, Athrey deems delusional and dangerous, it's best not even addressing them.

Now would be a good time to revisit the recent economic forecasts of the Fed's Sage from Princeton.