Lars Syll on Krugman, Wren-Lewis and the New Keynesian apologetics

By Lars P. Syll

Is academic (mainstream neoclassical) macroeconomics flourishing? “New Keynesian” macroeconomist Simon Wren-Lewis had a post up not that long ago on his blog, answering the question affirmatively:
Consider monetary policy. I would argue that we have made great progress in both the analysis and practice of monetary policy over the last forty years … However, it has to be acknowledged that policymakers who look at the evidence day in and day out believe that New Keynesian theory is the most useful framework currently around. I have no problem with academics saying ‘I know this is the consensus, but I think it is wrong’. However to say ‘the jury is still out’ on whether prices are sticky is wrong. The relevant jury came to a verdict long ago… 
It is obvious that when it comes to using fiscal policy in short term macroeconomic stabilisation there can be no equivalent claim to progress or consensus. The policy debates we have today do not seem to have advanced much since when Keynes was alive… 
What has been missing with fiscal policy has been the equivalent of central bank economists whose job depends on taking an objective view of the evidence and doing the best they can with the ideas that academic macroeconomics provides…The contrast between monetary and fiscal policy tells us that this failure is not an inevitable result of the paucity of evidence in macroeconomics. I think it has a lot more to do with the influence of ideology…
And today another sorta-kinda “New Keynesian” — Paul Krugman — has a post up arguing that the problem with the academic profession is that some macroeconomists aren’t “bothered to actually figure out” how the New Keynesian model with its Euler conditions — ”based on the assumption that people have perfect access to capital markets, so that they can borrow and lend at the same rate” — really works. According to Krugman, this shouldn’t be hard at all — “at least it shouldn’t be for anyone with a graduate training in economics.”

Read the rest here.


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