Monday, May 12, 2014

Why dreary?

Some anecdotes are too good not to repeat.  Here are two from James Freeman's review ("The Man Who Knew Too Little" WSJ, May 12) of Tim Geithner's Stress Test.

Here is one I liked:  
Mr. Geithner tells the story of Warren Buffett approaching him at a conference shortly after the rescue to offer congratulations. "I was sort of hoping you wouldn't do it, because then everything would have crashed and I would have been first in line to buy," said Mr. Buffett, according to the book. "It would have been terrible for the country, but I would've made a lot more money." A scenario in which Mr. Buffett is snapping up bargains doesn't sound like Armageddon.
 Here is another:
At Dartmouth, Mr. Geithner "took just one economics class and found it especially dreary."
The first one is pretty clear. Re the second one, let's absolve Geithner. Many people have taken Econ 101 and most remain uninformed. Our political leaders claim that a 10-cent bag fee is an incentive to recycle but a $15 minimum wage is not a disincentive to hire. The politicians have their agenda but most people and most media go along. Could it be that so many principals/intro econ classes are geared to those who might one day enter an econ PhD program and, thereby, do not bother to engage or inform the everyman (woman) students.

The most important fact of our existence is that many of us live longer and much better than our ancestors -- including the recent ones. Econ 101 has something to say about all this. This big news/good news story should not be "especially dreary."

There is much more here from Brad DeLong.