And the trouble with where I think Cowen, at least, is going is the apparent suggestion that everyone who develops a prominent public profile in economics has to do it by pandering. No, they don’t — and specifically, I don’t think that’s what I do. I’ve taken very strong positions over the years; I’ve been wrong on some occasions; but I can’t think of any cases where I took a stronger position than my actual beliefs warranted.
In particular, my hard-line views on policy in the current crisis — it’s a demand problem not a structural problem, there is no risk of crowding out, there is no risk of inflation from aggressive monetary expansion, there are large negative effects from austerity — aren’t simplifications of some more complex story, they are what my basic model and the lessons of history teach. Where there are things my “base” would like to believe but I’m not convinced, I say so — e.g., on the issue of whether inequality is a key factor holding back recovery.