…The big story of the week among the dismal science set is the Romney campaign’s white paper on economic policy, which represents a concerted effort by three economists — Glenn Hubbard, Greg Mankiw, and John Taylor — to destroy their own reputations. (Yes, there was a fourth author, Kevin Hassett. But the co-author of “Dow 36,000″ doesn’t exactly have a reputation to destroy).
And when I talk about destroying reputations, I don’t just mean saying things I disagree with. I mean flat-out, undeniable professional malpractice. It’s one thing to make shaky or even demonstrably wrong arguments. It’s something else to cite the work of other economists, claiming that it supports your position, when it does no such thing — and don’t take my word for it, listen to the protests of the cited economists.
And by the way, this isn’t obscure stuff. To take one example: the work of Mian and Sufi on household debt and the slump has been playing a big role in making the case for a demand-driven depression, which is exactly the kind of situation in which stimulus makes sense — so you have to be completely out of it and/or unscrupulous to cite some of their work and claim that it refutes the case for stimulus. Or to take another example, which Brad DeLong picks up, anyone following the debate knows that the Baker et al paper claiming to show that uncertainty is holding back recovery clearly identifies the relevant uncertainty as arising from things like the GOP’s brinksmanship over the debt ceiling — not things like Obamacare.
Can Hubbard, Mankiw, and Taylor really be that out of it? I don’t think so. They just believe that they can pull one over on the rubes, and pay no professional price. Let’s hope they’re wrong…