Links

1. An African Thunderstorm a cappella.

2. Missing the pre-recess deadline is not a death knell of the current health reform push.

3. Paul Kedrosky’s links.

4. What would happen if half the world’s population was instantly sterilized?

Questions and No Answers

Why, on average, do females enjoy vegetables more than men? Is it an interesting answer, such as an evolutionary dietary hangover from when men used to require more protein for battles and hunting? Or is it a more simple (and perhaps less palatable for some) result of the demands place on women in the marriage market?

Have any recipes been lost along with the extinction of an animal (or plant)? Are any modern recipes modified versions of recipes originally using an extinct plant or animal?

Questions and Answers

1. Do the latest statistical methods beat a simple moving average? (Robin Hanson).

2. Is Congressional oversight of the Fed a good idea? (Mark Thoma).

3. Is suicide expensive? (Tyler Cowen).

Rhetoric and Reception

Anyone who regularly reads newspaper columnists or political economic blogs has read Paul Krugman. In his New York Times column he takes complex issues and presents them in a manner laymen can understand, albeit from an unabashedly liberal perspective. While Krugman is no doubt an excellent economist, his popularity stems from his brilliance as an essayist.  In particular, he commonly employs a rhetorical method that casts participants in a debate as good or evil, questioning motives and sincerity. His opponents, Greg Mankiw in particular, attempt to “wear the mantle of civil discourse” as a commenter on Brad DeLong’s blog put it.  But do most people appreciate such (superficial?) even-handedness? Probably not.

Cases can be made for an individual’s bias in any direction, so why not abandon wishy-washy, leave all options open economist-speak? Krugman mixes technical analysis with passion, conviction, suspicion, and over-confidence, advancing his arguments beyond what is warranted by their intellectual merit alone. He often argues more like a lawyer than an economist. Certainly he does not have a monopoly on such tactics as other economists and commenters frequently attempt to use the same methods. It’s just that Krugman, for better or worse, seems to have mastered the trade.

Somewhat tangentially, see this paper by Daniel Klein and Harika Barlett for an analysis of Krugman’s evolution as a columnist.