Noah Smith’s guide to EconoTrolls

It is very funny, which is hard to manage for it being a) economics, b) blogs, and c) relying on obscure knowledge about the potential illiquidity of an ngdp futures market.  The best case I’ve seen lately for esoteric humor.


Wow, how in the heck did they manage to make this hilarious and somewhat informative? Never have I chuckled so much on an economics blog before.

Art Laffer isn't dead.

I guess you don't understand irony.

Yes, that's the first thing I thought. The second thing was how can a major econo blogger think that he was. Mood affiliation? Reality distortion?

Art Laffer isn't an economist. Zing!!!

The first comment is the best part.

Seems like Noah has it in for the right side of the spectrum - no bias or mood affiliation there. I see the commenters filled in a glaring gap - the failure to include the Krugman/DeLong worshippers. But they're always right, so maybe in the Noah-n universe they don't qualify as trolls.


but probably a tie between bankrupting the country with debt, privatizing the prison system,
"dishing out billions in pork to well-connected no-bid contractors, throwing millions of harmless marijuana users into nightmarish prisons"
forcing millions of "illegal" immigrants into second-class citizen status,
blocking any sensible policy reform through the abuse of supermajority tactics in the Senate...

Democrats have never supported any of these things.../sarc

Those Krugmanites don't like you making fund of their idol. Progressive Man does not live by bread alone, but by every terse, pithily argued column by PK.

You can make fun of BDL if you like. There's room under the KrugBus.

This idea where you need 60% agreement for some life altering government decision is just nuts.

Seems like Noah has it in for the right side of the spectrum

What?! But I put in equal numbers of right-leaning and left-leaning species...

I see the commenters filled in a glaring gap – the failure to include the Krugman/DeLong worshippers.

Ahh, because it's only made up of people who troll my blog. ;-)

I overlooked the obvious. Thank you for enlightening me.

I'm still laughing an hour later about the Austrians and how the same image was used twice.

Mises, Rothbard .... Jewish economists as Nazis? FUNNY!

It's not about economists, it's about their fans. What did Ron Paul say again about fleet-footed Washingtonians?

I've only met one honest to God austrian, and she had, um, peculiar ideas about the Jewish people.

It's an open secret that those "fleet-footed" remarks were written by Lew Rockwell, but Ron Paul must have felt it would be disloyal or irresponsible to defend himself by saying so.

It's especially funny when you think about family & friends of all the Austrians murdered by Hitler. Nothing funnier than that.

Extremely well done!

One quibble, it's a bit weird to refer to David Graeber as a Marxist "special attack." I agree that he can be pugnacious and that his perspective breaks both normatively and positively from any of the mainstream varieties of econ, but he's not a Marxist. One can see his differences with Marxists by reading the Jacobin review of his book and his responses to the same. (FWIW, I think Graeber generally has the better side of that dispute and I take his work seriously in a way I don't take Marxism).

Noah does not realize that the Fed does not have a printing press. It is all done by electronic keystroke.

that was excellent as was the Krugmanite comment addition

I would have said MMTers secret weaknesses were the real world, and the word "zimbabwe" but otherwise it was perfect.

The Fed could provide sufficient liquidity for an NGDP futures market by paying interest on active trading accounts! Don't you people read!

Or it could just buy and sell all the futures.

The Fed: is there anything it can't do? Where's my pizza?

The Fed bought your pizza as part of its new asset purchase program.

Do they deliver?

I anticipate delivery by mid-2015.

If you believe they will deliver, they will deliver. It's all about expectations. And, frankly, I'm detecting a disturbing note of incredulity on your part. That doesn't mean it won't work, though. As long as enough of us believe in pizza fairies, there will be pizza fairies. It's a stylized fact.

I am market monetarist myself and I am sure such a marked would be huge and liquid, especially when the risk of macro volatili is high. However, Sumner himself prefers the small obscure futures market.

He quoted me without naming me, which of course makes it great, :-).

What I find funniest is all the people here whining about how what he said about their school was not really funny or accurate or was otherwise politically incorrect, not to mention the hilarity over people getting all worked up that Art Laffer is not really dead. Oooooooh, shame on you, Noah!

Of course the other group he did not pigeonhole, which was probably more egregious than leaving off DeLong and Krugman (who are two individuals and not a school, in case anybody had not noticed, although I guess it is unclear if Scott Sumner counts as a "school") is the lack of one for Democrats, given that he had one for Republicans (and for that matter, Libertarians as well).

Oh yeah, and shame on him for having political biases and letting them show up in his satire. How awful! Boo hoo hoo!!!

Witty post, without question. I was a bit bummed not to see my inner troll. Noah poked fun at Scientist-Economists, but not at the (Social) Engineer-Economists. That kind who think they can solve all the world's problems (whether asked or not) with a dump of data, words, and if all else fails money. I won't try to write out the profile. I am not that funny (witness the forward guidance 'joke' above), and maybe it's not a common blog troll. But I will say it's common enough to get someone blocked (deservedly) from a blog comment section. Live and learn.

On a somewhat related note, I thought these were great tips on how to be a good commenter...not a troll... HT EconJeff

Why he depicted the austrian economists as nazis?

Probably just showing off his "liberal fascist" tendencies (for those still bloviating over the "death" of Art Laffer, this is a joke)...

I can verify that those of us working in applied micro hate hate hate it when people say economics isn't a science. (Let me take this moment to point out that my bachelors degree is in physics so I "get" "real science." [\self parody])

I'd like to give a special h/t to all commenters who think the failure of some economists to predict the exact moment of the financial crisis discredits all study of choice.

I dunno, I think of the financial crisis as caused by a multitude of poor (ex post) choices. As a macro forecaster who does applied micro research, I hate it when economists hold up their specialty while stepping on the others.

as a fellow applied micro person, i hate it when people criticize economics across the board when they really mean macro (or, even more annoying, econ 101), like when articles say that economics is "in crisis", as if the financial crisis is somehow relevant to the fundamentals of most applied micro topics

no name, when people criticize economics they really mean economics. Inside the discipline the differences in our specialties look huge, but from the outside (and in reality) these internal differences are not that important. Of course, not every applied micro economist works on topics closely related to the financial crisis (nor does every macro economist), but the crisis relates to many applied micro areas, such as urban/real estate economics, household finance, industrial organization (financial structures), financial literacy, etc.

The financial crisis reflects the choices of many households, firms, and regulatory/policy institutions ... these types of economic choices are relevant to all economic topics. I don't say this to condemn economics to the trash bin. It just means we all have a lot of work to do (and to communicate).

Is it not more appropriate to think in terms of the extent to which different fields of study can fruitfully apply the methods of science to improve understanding, rather than in terms of an on/off switch?

Comic gold!

Claudia, I am totally agree with your thoughts. Keep doing these type of work.

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