Thursday, 22 August 2013

Survey Says

More interesting than the "which economist am I most like" part of this rather nifty survey, based on responses to the IGM Economic Experts Panel, is their highlighting of where you differ substantially from the consensus of their expert panel.

My outlier views:

  1. I disagreed that conventional economic reasoning suggests it would be good policy to let undergrads borrow at very low interest rates. Standard economic reasoning can give you good reason for wanting government-backing of student loans, but nothing in standard economic reasoning says that these loans should be provided at discounted interest rates. In my view anyway. I really cannot see any case for very low interest loans. Backed at market rates, fine. Subsidies for tuition in programmes with expected very high positive external effects? Can live with it. But at current tertiary enrollment rates, it's very implausible that any existing market failure requires low interest student loans. So I gave a "Strongly Disagree" on question (1).
  2. I agreed with the panel that raising the minimum wage to $9 per hour would make it noticeably harder for low-skilled workers to find employment (Q11). Where the panel thought that the distortionary effects of this policy would be small enough to make the policy desirable, I disagreed (Q12). In particular, I thought indexing the minimum wage to the inflation rate was a particularly bad idea. Building in nominal wage rigidities is bad enough. Building in real wage rigidities is even worse. I note that prior and broader surveys of economists on the topic have favoured my position over the panel's. I also strongly expect that many answering "agree" here were running a political economy model expecting it to be impossible to use EITC as a more efficient way of improving outcomes. 
  3. On Question 41, I expected it would have been better to have had Greece default early.
  4. I was neutral on 47 & 48, regarding regulation of money-market mutual funds; I don't know the existing regs well enough to agree or disagree.
  5. On Question 55, I expected that Germany would do better by failing to bail out Southern Europe than by giving them unconditional cash grants. 
  6. On Question 72, I did not see it as a big drawback of a school voucher system that some students would fail to make an active choice. This could just be semantics: it could still be the main drawback, just not a very substantial one.
  7. On Question 82, I disagreed that the long term full accounting on ARRA would have benefits in excess of costs.
  8. On 85, I disagreed that it was a good idea to require US publicly listed corporations to allow shareholders a non-binding vote on executive compensation. But I haven't strong preferences on that one. 
Out of 105 questions, I'm not nearly as far away from the mainstream as I might have thought. I'm more skeptical about the merits of bailouts, whether national or corporate or banks, than many of the panel members. But I'm comfortable with that.

If it matters, the survey said I'm closest to Alan Auerbach.

Update: Donal ran the survey too.


  1. Which leaves me wondering, if Alan Auerbach. also does the survey, will it end up saying that is closest to you?

  2. Nope. He's on the expert panel. I'm some schmuck in New Zealand.

  3. I only got through the minimum 20 questions, but I found I kept veering way off to the right. Which, come to think of it, is probably an accurate statement in itself.