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Hoisted from the Archives: Twenty Years Ago the Wall Street Journal Was as Bad as It Is Today

No: They did not publish this. But worth noting is that they did not even try to get it right. And they still don't try:

Professor J. Bradford DeLong
Department of Economics
601 Evans Hall, #3880
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
September 15, 1997

Letters to the Editor
The Wall Street Journal
1155 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY

Dear Mesdames and Sirs:

Your September 15 editorial condemned the Japanese government's "drive to balance the budget with new taxes" during its current deep recession. You called its policies "Keynesian": "Japan's Keynesian Flop" was the editorial's title.

But there is a big problem. John Maynard Keynes believed not in balancing the budget but in running large deficits during deep recessions. The policies of trying to balance the budget in a deep recession that you call "Keynesian" are the policies that John Maynard Keynes called "Classical"--and scorned.

As mistakes go, this is a howler: it is like praising Michelangelo for his mastery of the Abstract Expressionist aesthetic, admiring the Federal Register's mastery of poetic rhythm and rhyme, or expressing admiration for the fundamental Communist principle of private property.

Brad DeLong
Professor of Economics
University of California at Berkeley

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