Old Dogs, Old Tricks

Matt Yglesias says it’s puzzling that Ben Bernanke isn’t adopting a more expansionary monetary policy in order to jumpstart the job market.  Brad DeLong says, “I am puzzled too.”  A bunch of other liberally inclined economists have said similar things recently.

I dunno.  I guess I wish we could stop pretending to be surprised by this.  Ben Bernanke may be a specialist in economic contractions, but he’s also a mainstream conservative economist.  And mainstream conservatives have always been more concerned with inflation than with unemployment.  Likewise, they tend to be opposed to entitlement spending, opposed to serious financial regulation, and opposed to expanded consumer protections.  And guess what?  Bernanke is more concerned with inflation than with unemployment and he’s opposed to entitlement spending, serious financial regulation, and expanded consumer protections.

This was all pretty plain several months ago, when virtually every liberally-minded economist supported Bernanke’s reappointment.  So what’s the point of bellyaching about it now?

For what it’s worth, I’m surprisingly bitter about this and I keep stewing over it.  Maybe I’m just being an asshole.  But I’ve been reading liberal economists yammer on for years about liberal economic policies, so when an actual opportunity came along to appoint a liberal economist to an important position it was really disappointing to see them all circle the wagons around Bernanke almost instantly.  It felt like the worst kind of professional backscratching.

I guess I should get over it.  But we all have our dumb little pet peeves to be bitter about, don’t we?

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