Ezra Klein: Do you trust Larry Summers or Janet Yellen to police Wall Street?: Noted for August 2, 2013
Noah Smith: Conservative White America, You Need a New Grand Strategy: Noted for August 2, 2013

"Gravitas" and the Pointless Pain Caucus

May I point out to Paul Krugman that Larry Summers and Janet Yellen are, in my experience, equally unwilling and unlikely to "to prove their seriousness by doing what doesn’t need to be done, at the public’s expense" and "talks a lot about the need to make tough decisions, which somehow always involves demanding sacrifices on the part of ordinary families while treating the wealthy with kid gloves"?

Maybe Larry believes slightly, slightly more in labor-force upgrading in a high-pressure economy than Janet; and maybe Janet believes slightly, slightly more in the power of quantitative easing than Larry; and maybe Larry is slightly, slightly more worried about the distortions and systemic risks created when you try to compensate for lack of demand caused by a blocked credit channel by pumping-up demand for long-duration assets.

But these differences between them are fourth significant figure differences…

Paul Krugman: Sex, Money and Gravitas:

In the case of the “female dollar” types, the wrongheadedness of the economics is as raw and obvious as the sexism. The people shouting that the Fed is “debasing the dollar” have been warning of runaway inflation any day now for almost five years, and they have been wrong every step of the way. Worse, they have shown no willingness to admit having been wrong…. They are, in short, the last people in the world you should listen to when it comes to monetary policy.

The wrongheadedness of the gravitas crowd, like its sexism, is subtler…. [B]eing… a Very Serious Person--the kind of person who talks a lot about the need to make tough decisions, which somehow always involves demanding sacrifices on the part of ordinary families while treating the wealthy with kid gloves. And here’s the thing: The Very Serious People have been almost as consistently wrong… as the inflation hysterics. This has been obviously true in the case of budget policy…. But it has also been true for monetary policy…. While the gravitas types like to think of themselves as serious men (and I do mean men) who are willing to do what needs to be done, recent history suggests that they’re actually men who are eager to prove their seriousness by doing what doesn’t need to be done, at the public’s expense….

So is Janet Yellen the only possible candidate to be the next leader of the Fed? Of course not. But the case for someone else should be made on the merits — and, so far, that hasn’t been what’s happening.

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