Live from Evans Hall: The purpose of having a "Monday DeLong Smackdown" was twofold: (a) to make me smarter by forcing me to go through and internalize smart critiques of things I had written; and (b) to provide some reward and recognition to those people who would do me a favor by writing a smart critique of something I had written.
It has failed.
Now don't get me wrong—smart people have done yeoman work on this. We have, for example, a Baker's Half-Dozen of those whom Google considers... not "best", Google does not do "best", but rather "most attended to", which is a very different mess of pottage indeed:
- Dean Baker (2015): Fun With Brad DeLong on TPP https://cepr.net/blogs/beat-the-press/fun-with-brad-delong-on-tpp | https://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/03/dean-baker-on-the-tpp-monday-delong-smackdown-watch.html
- Paul Krugman
- (2014a): The Simple Analytics of Monetary Impotence https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/12/19/the-simple-analytics-of-monetary-impotence-wonkish/ | https://www.bradford-delong.com/2014/12/2014-12-21-mo-monday-delong-smackdown-watch-paul-krugman-the-simple-analytics-of-monetary-impotence.html
- (2014b): Inflation OCD https://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/28/inflation-ocd/ | https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2014/08/monday-delong-smackdown-the-wellsprings-of-bad-monetary-economics-in-goldbugism.html
- Nick Rowe (2013): Private debt, public debt, and continuity https://worthwhile.typepad.com/worthwhile_canadian_initi/2013/10/private-debt-public-debt-and-continuity.html | https://www.bradford-delong.com/2014/01/monday-delong-smackdown-watch-nick-rowe-continuity-is-not-assured.html
- Robert Waldmann
- (2014): Over at Equitable Growth: A Note on Pre-2008 Unemployment-Rate Mean-Reversion: Wednesday Focus for October 8, 2014 https://www.bradford-delong.com/2014/10/over-at-equitable-growth-a-note-on-pre-2008-unemployment-rate-mean-reversion-thursday-focus-for-october-9-2014.html#comment-6a00e551f08003883401bb07958770970d | https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2014/10/20141013-monday-delong-smackdown-macroeconomy-mean-reversion-edition.html
- (2015): "It is not the case..." is true but doesn't go very far... https://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/07/highlighted.html#comment-6a00e551f08003883401bb084c3e41970d | https://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/07/comment-of-the-dayearly-delong-smackdown-robert-waldmann-comment-on-more-musings-on-monetary-economicshttpswww.html
- (2016): Brad DeLong Marks His Beliefs about "The Return of Depression Economics" to Market https://rjwaldmann.blogspot.com/2016/04/brad-delong-marks-his-beliefs-about.html | https://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/04/monday-smackdown-robert-waldmann-marks-brad-delongs-beliefs-about-the-return-of-depression-economics-to-market.html
- Scott Sumner (2014): Could We Have Had a Severe Recession Without the 2008 Financial Crisis? https://wallstreetpit.com/103153-could-we-have-had-a-severe-recession-without-the-2008-financial-crisis/ | https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2014/04/monday-delong-smackdown-scott-sumner-could-we-have-had-a-severe-recession-without-the-2008-financial-crisis.html
- Cosma Shalizi (2014): Respectfully, I just looked over the requirements for the Berkeley econ. major... https://www.bradford-delong.com/2014/06/thoughts-on-robert-skidelskys-rant-against-the-current-economics-curriculum-over-at-equitable-growth-thursday-focus-for-j.html#comment-6a00e551f08003883401a73ddbec9a970d | https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2014/06/monday-delong-smackdown-watch-cosma-shalizi-has-serious-doubts-about-my-claim-that-we-at-berkeley-broadly-manage-to-accomp.html
- DJW (2004): DeLong on Global Warming https://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2004/07/delong-on-global-warming | https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2013/07/djw-brad-delong-is-the-stupidest-man-alive-monday-delong-smackdown-watch-hoisted-from-archives-from-2004-weblogging.html
But the gruel is rather... thin. And I don't know whether recently the number of good smackdowns has dropped in reality or whether I have just become less diligent and more conceited. But something has happened.
Since we were always short of high-quality smackdowns of DeLong that deserved to be hoisted and highlighted, there was lots of space in a roughly once-a-week weblog feature for outsourcing high-quality smackdowns of others. For example, again from the well attended-to, a handful:
- The estimable Kevin Drum (2017): Don’t Blame Oroville on Environmentalists: "On the truly execrable Victor Davis Hanson..." https://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/02/dont-blame-oroville-environmentalists/ | https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/02/early-monday-smackdown-outsourced-to-kevin-drum.html
- The thoughtful and careful *David Glasner: Hayek, Deflation and Nihilism https://uneasymoney.com/2017/07/23/hayek-deflation-and-nihilism/ | https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/07/monday-smackdown-david-glasner-on-friedrich-von-hayek.html
- The very sharp yet senselessly and deludedly optimistic Jeet Heer (2015) National Review's Bad Conscience: Why the magazine is quick to accuse liberals of fascism and Nazism https://newrepublic.com/article/122413/national-reviews-bad-conscience| https://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/11/monday-smackdown-2.html
And that was a useful thing to do, especially as neither Jeet, David, nor Kevin has what I think would be their proper (and very large) intellectual heft in our public sphere.
But then it seemed that we had such a target-rich environment that I owed it to the world to turn scrutiny away from myself, and onto the idiocy that populates the world. For example:
- John Cochrane's claim in late 2008—well after the employment and national product share of construction had fallen below their historical averages that—"We should have a recession. People who spend their lives pounding nails in Nevada need something else to do..." https://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/06/the-hangover-theory-of-the-2008-2009-crash-fails-because-of-timing.html
- John Taylor's fake claim that his model forecasts used "exactly the same policy change... [as] the Romer-Bernstein estimates[, which] apparently fail a simple robustness test...", when in fact Taylor's forecasts explicitly assumed a very different monetary policy reaction function than Romer-Bernstein had explicitly adopted for their forecasts https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/07/early-monday-smackdownhoisted-john-cogan-tobias-cwik-john-taylor-and-volker-wielands-reputational-bet-on-fiscal-polic.html
- Donald Luskin, about whom words are no longer necessary https://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/04/monday-smackdown-why-yes-donald-luskin-stupidest-man-alive-emeritus-is-now-an-automated-trumpist-trollbot-why-did-you-a.html
- And, of course, David Graeber:
- (2016): His three different inconsistent and self-contradictory "explanations" of his infamous: "Apple Computers is a famous example: it was founded by (mostly Republican) computer engineers who broke from IBM in Silicon Valley in the 1980s, forming little democratic circles of twenty to forty people with their laptops in each other's garages...". They are: "[It] was not supposed to be about Apple. Actually it was about a whole of series of other tiny start-ups created by people who’d dropped out of IBM, Apple, and similar behemoths. (Of them it’s perfectly true.)..."; "The passage got horribly garbled... as patched back together by the copyeditor into something that made logical sense but was obviously factually wrong"; "Richard Wolff the Marxist economist whose student did a study of the origins of Apple.... I think he led me astray.... I think Wolff was just kind of wrong about a lot of this; I tried to check with him but he didn’t answer the email..." https://www.bradford-delong.com/2016/04/hoisted-from-the-archives-david-graeber-debt-weblogging-no-silicon-valley-did-not-and-does-not-partake-of-the-anarchist.html
- (2015): Another true dog's breakfast.... Never mind that Graeber shows no sign of having bothered to learn about Hulagu Khan. Graeber does not appear to have bothered to learn about the bloody pre-Spanish Conquest history of the creation of the Mexica Empire. The Mexica had certainly "acted like conquistadores": Why do you imagine Cortez found it so easy to recruit allies for his overthrow of Mocetezuma? https://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/12/monday-david-graeber-smackdown-mocetezuma-and-predecessors-not-gentle-lambs-department.html
- (2014): "Most [European] families were so low on cash that they were regularly reduced to melting down their family silver to pay their taxes..." To which one could only say: Most families in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries do not have "family silver"...
Once again, a useful and proper thing to do, especially as all of John, John, Donald, and David have much more intellectual heft in our public sphere than even a half-careful glance at their track records and even a half-careful investigation of their logic and argumentation would lead a rational person to believe they should.
The problem is that the balance is off: It should be:
- one-third smart smackdowns of DeLong
- one-third outsourced smart smackdowns of others
- one-third my smackdowns of overrated others.
And I cannot find enough smart smackdowns of my work to maintain that proper balance.
So I am asking all for some help here...