Saturday, September 04, 2010

Define "economists"

Really, Greg Mankiw? He writes on whether the Bush tax cuts should be extended:
This seems to be the economic policy question of the hour. It might be worth recalling that last month, the Wall Street Journal polled economists about this question. Of those who expressed an opinion, here are the results:
  • 6 percent said no, all the tax cuts should be allowed to expire,
  • 24 percent said yes, but only for those making less than $250,000 a year,
  • 70 percent said that all the tax cuts should be extended.
I'm not so much upset at the conclusion—temporarily extending tax cuts in the middle of a recession doesn't seem like a terrible idea, although the estate tax should be reinstated and some other rates should be allowed to climb upward. Rather, I'm upset that polls from the Wall Street Journal are presented as being surveys of "economists" when they're really surveys of a very particular subset of conservative private-sector economists, who believe things like:
Despite the continued challenging conditions, 30 out of 48 economists who answered the question said the economy didn't need any more fiscal or monetary stimulus. Six economists said more fiscal stimulus was necessary, while five want more monetary stimulus from the Federal Reserve and seven said that the economy could use both.
If the Wall Street Journal included academics (like Mankiw!) in the survey, I guarantee that this result would be different.

No comments: