Brad DeLong on IS-LM

by on October 4, 2011 at 3:12 pm in Economics | Permalink

You can read his defense of the model here, though I would not do the google with the word “perspective” in it.

1 Becon October 4, 2011 at 3:30 pm

Brad wrote:
“But the mechanical quantity theory is simply wrong for us today: the Fed has tripled the monetary base since 2007, and yet the flow of nominal spending has not tripled: not at all.”

I’m unwilling to believe that Brad is seriously accusing you of promoting old fashioned quantity theory. He can’t be that ignorant, can he? Thus I’m left to assume he’s being intentionally misleading by misrepresenting Tyler’s views.

2 dan October 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm

I came to the comments to say I appreciated that Tyler doesn’t drop to ad hominem/poisoning the well as quickly as DeLong and Krugman seem to. Calling Tyler’s dislike of IS-LM “tribal” is totally unnecessary for defending the model and arguing for its relevance. I stop caring about a debate pretty immediately after one side (or both) starts with the silly name calling, and I don’t think I’m the only one.

So how lovely of you to pick up the ad hom slack here on the MR side.

3 Jeff October 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

meh. These types of obnoxious posts are Delong-101. People get sick of it.

4 Andrew' October 4, 2011 at 3:57 pm

We all know Tyler Cowen’s big problem is that he is tribal, unwilling to offend his clique, etc.

5 Joe in Morgantown October 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm

TMML. I nominate for COTD.

6 Pat MacAuley October 4, 2011 at 5:02 pm

Is “tribal” the new “barbarous” ?

7 Foobarista October 4, 2011 at 9:26 pm

Only if you can throw in an offhand (and incorrect) reference to Julius Caesar to the discussion.

8 Pragmaticon October 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm

Someone has too, and Tyler is too nice to do it.

9 Pragmaticon October 4, 2011 at 5:38 pm


10 Andrew' October 4, 2011 at 5:55 pm

That’s not very nice.

11 Andrew' October 4, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Google “Brad DeLong on IS-LM” and this is the first instance.

12 James Hare October 4, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Not sure I get your dig on the word “perspective.” Four occurrences of the 7 in the post are direct quotes from your work.

13 Sebastian October 4, 2011 at 4:31 pm

…and the other ones are quotes from deLong (at least for me – but maybe google does special customization for Tyler ;-)).

14 Dan Weber October 4, 2011 at 4:37 pm

Put it in quotes and you really only get Tyler’s post, and references to the Long’s post that presumably didn’t exist at the time of the Long’s post.

15 Jonpez October 5, 2011 at 2:30 am

“nominal GDP” – 846,000 results
“nominal GDP perspective” – 6 results

16 Rich October 4, 2011 at 5:22 pm

Back in 2005, when you wrote an almost identical post, Brad DeLong posted a reply on his own blog. (I remember reading it for your macro class–MR was assigned reading, as was Brad DeLong’s blog, Brad Setser’s blog, Nouriel Roubini’s blog, and a few more). That evening you asked the class, rhetorically (quoting from memory): “did Brad DeLong disagree with me? No! He piled on!” As indeed he had. I wonder if that post is archived somewhere.

17 Mike Huben October 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm

Ah, the righteous indignation of the claque, that somebody dares to call their icon “tribal”. What tribe? Perhaps the Koch tribe that pays his salary?

But the telling thing is that Cowen is playing coy. DeLong is asking relatively politely that he explain just what it is that he does prefer and where it comes from, and DeLong provides his own ideas as an example of what he’d like to see. Cowen has long evaded that question; perhaps he cannot, or at least not without loss of face.

The basic issue is that if you want credibility as a modern economist, you have to explain your thinking on solutions. Not merely snipe at others and pretend to be an authority. That’s good enough for a tribal ideologue, but not for credibility among your peers.

18 Andrew' October 4, 2011 at 6:14 pm

“Relatively politely.” That’s relatively humorous.

19 Rich October 4, 2011 at 6:34 pm

I stop reading his comment the moment I saw “Koch.”

20 Paul Zrimsek October 4, 2011 at 6:46 pm

You’re a better man than I. I stopped reading the moment I saw “Huben”.

21 Andrew' October 4, 2011 at 7:21 pm

I almost never stop reading. It just hadn’t occurred to me that what I was missing from TC is a more lines on graphs.

22 Cahal October 6, 2011 at 11:14 am

Stopping reading/watching something for no real reason is an interesting example of confirmation bias.

You should allow your views to be challenged a bit more.

23 JC October 4, 2011 at 6:56 pm

Good comment. I suppose “I don’t like” is nice to say, but in the real world, IL-LM or a version of it, simply works.

Good macro without IS_LM is like communism. A nice idea, doesn’t seem to work in the real world.

24 Chris Cella October 4, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Mike – Where are you going with this one?

All Cowen did was write a blog entry criticising a model. No, it is not necessary that he put every possible solution in a single blog post. Nor is he being “coy” – Delong wrote this presumably before consulting Cowen, so what exactly about Cowen’s original post that deserved such a nasty attack? That unwarranted and unprovoked nastiness is what the other commenters are reacting to, and understandably so.

Also, your Koch comment is ridiculous in this context. How does his criticism of the IS-LM model help advance the Koch agenda? Hicks criticised the model himself! PAID OFF BY THE KOCHTOPUS NO DOUBT!

25 Cahal October 5, 2011 at 9:42 am

I find myself in the unfortunate position of paraphrasing Henry Hazlitt: you have to look at the effect of this type of thing over time and throughout the blogosphere, not just the specific critique. It muddies the waters.

(Incidentally, I dislike IS/LM too, though from a different perspective).

26 A. October 4, 2011 at 7:21 pm

Tyler would have given a reply of more than one cryptic sentence, but the Kochtopus wouldn’t let him. Also, Hitler. And Rick Perry.

27 Morgan Warstler October 4, 2011 at 7:41 pm

DeKrugman is the second person I’m calling after the November election.

28 kent October 4, 2011 at 8:18 pm

Waiting for a substantive response from Tyler.

29 kent October 4, 2011 at 8:19 pm

If blogs are going to matter, it’ll be because they can be ways to exchange and test ideas … not because they can be ways to assert tribal identity (on either side). We’ve already got plenty of the latter.

30 Claudia Sahm October 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm

Kent, I agree and disagree with your last two posts.

Disagree: My first inclination on reading this post this morning…was also to ask so what’s better than the IS-LM? But then I realized I should think about that and not expect Tyler (or Brad or Paul) to tell me. I should grab a few of my macro text books, remember why IS-LM is so useful for teaching and brush up on the assumptions that are not so realistic. All models stink…they are abstractions of the real world. Hopefully, they are useful at times. We the users of models need to figure out when and where a model works. That’s not easy. One person is not going to tell us the “right” answer (though I suspect Tyler has some opinions). It would be like the prof giving you the answer to the problem set before it’s due. No learning…just copying answers.

Agree: I totally agree that blogs as teaching tools and places of real research are lacking. It is impossible to converse with people. First, I do not like that people do not post under their real names. I think it encourages “bad behavior” and scares away serious commenters. Second the lags between posts lead to missed conversations or misunderstandings. Finally there is a false sense of community. Intellectual progress requires some collaboration, some community. I would like to think it could be (and will be) online, but I just don’t see it yet.

31 John Smith Doe October 5, 2011 at 9:46 am

Yes, not posting under your real name does encourage bad behavior, and that might dissuade some people from getting involved. But having to post under your real name can also dissuade serious commentors.

I used to be a member of a political discussion board that was filled with young, intelligent people. There was a lot of lashing out, but it was also a great learning experience. Almost everyone was pseudonymous. No one wanted a future employer to google them and axe them because he disagreed with their political beliefs, to run for office in ten years and have something they wrote while they were 22 and didn’t fully understand the subject thrown against them, or to give the one or two obsessive, crazy guys on the board a way to effect their real life. This was especially true since many of the members regularly switched parties to try to understand the other side’s worldview.

32 Claudia Sahm October 5, 2011 at 2:40 pm

There are costs to using your real identity, but I believe that one should not write anything anywhere that you are not comfortable showing up in the New York Times with your name attached. (I fail at this all the time, but that’s my guiding principle.) Same with photos. Of course, all this means that there are limits (in my mind) to what can be accomplished online. Conversations in a coffee shop can be more candid and kept on track than on a blog. I am disgusted at some of the postings about women that show up on my profession’s Job Market Rumors blog. There are some quasi-serious econ discussion and there is a lot of yucky stuff. The latter always comes from unnamed posters. I am all for freedom of speech but not when it dehumanizes other people.

33 Jay October 4, 2011 at 8:24 pm

At least here at MR every comment of dissent is not automatically censored. Think of all the political leaders throughout history that would have approved of DeLong’s comment moderation policy. Very Berkeleyian of him.

34 Jay October 4, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I should add that this is how a respectable adult would respond…

DeLong acts like a 3 year old.

35 kent October 4, 2011 at 9:36 pm

If you can’t screen out the noise of DeLong’s ego to get to the underlying argument, then shame on you. Yes the man is irritating and self-righteous and condescending. But Tyler is often maddeningly vague and elliptical and has been known to refuse to engage fully in arguments. This shouldn’t be a contest over “my preferred economist is less irritating than yours.” It needs to be about the ideas.

Brad and Paul K. have charged that most economists have simply forgotten basic macro, if they ever learned it. I keep thinking Tyler will break out a full-length, knock-down post that will definitively prove them wrong. I have to say, I’m still waiting.

36 Roy October 5, 2011 at 12:37 am

No, when someone is as agressively dishonest and consistent in attempting to shut down argument as DeLong, I see no very little reason that they should be paid attention to. Why DeLong gets so much attention is really a mystery to me, as his entire modus vivendi seems completely opposed to intellectual enquiry.

37 CIP October 4, 2011 at 11:24 pm

bingo Kent

38 Merijn Knibbe October 5, 2011 at 3:15 am

Watch this graph:

does this graph explains Mr. Cowen’s despair – or doesn’t it?

39 Mike Huben October 5, 2011 at 4:59 am

Ah, the righteous indignation of the claque still continues.

And still no response from Tyler.

Here’s a response from Brad’s site that was really appropriate:

Tyler Cowen is a sharp cookie. I can only conclude that he’s trying very hard not to understand. He wants to muddy waters–point to valid shortcomings of the theory–not to move understanding forward but to discredit what ISLM productively shows by pointing at things that are, by-and-large, beside the point. It’s a bit like—no, make it exactly like—pointing to obvious problems in GCM as a round about way to discredit the whole idea of global climate change. Bobbing and weaving with intelligent half truths is a convenient and effective way of misleading people in an apparent authoritative manner. It’s a page right out of Oreskes’ book “Merchants of Doubt.”

40 Cahal October 5, 2011 at 9:40 am

You’d lost me with your first post but I see your point now, and you are right. It’s similar to Caplan and other libertarians – they simply want to skew the debate to the point where intelligent discussion is impossible. For example, it’s not uncommon to discuss whether traffic laws, slave labour laws, immigration controls are appropriate.

They take us back in time, politically.

41 Eric H October 21, 2011 at 10:23 pm

“And still no response from Tyler.”

I remember reading this somewhere: “Don’t interpret delays in answering as ‘winning’.” Where was that? What would be an obvious corollary?

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