Sunday, September 11, 2011


We often use fudge words or phrases to close out or finish an argument.  These are usually standard rhetorical devices.  Perhaps the most abused involves "fair" or "fairness".  When pressed, very few can spell out what they have in mind.

"Fair" gets twice as many Google hits as "sex".  Perhaps that's not a fair comparison.

In today's NY Times, Greg Mankiw writes about the problems that policy makers have in getting business people to invest.  Conventional "stimulus" may do more harm than good.  He ends this way:
Economists often rely on the convenient shortcut of separating long-run and short-run issues. Recessions are then viewed as short-run problems that require short-run solutions. That approach, however, may be simplistic. Lack of investment spending is a large part of the economy’s current difficulties, but capital investments are always made with an eye toward the future.

The best fix for our short-run problems may be to focus on policies that will foster long-run growth as well.
Let's do X in the short-run, but Y in the long-run, is another famous fudge.  We owe the reader some sense of what we mean.  That's never simple, but don't broach the topic if you do not know.  Spend now, but attend to deficits later?  Please provide readers with an inkling of what you have in mind.  If you have no idea, then say so.