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Whom to fire in the Obama administration?

Posted by Christopher Shea  December 1, 2009 12:13 PM

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The blog "Economists for Firing Larry Summers" ("devoted to seeing that Larry Summers gets to spend more time with his family") had been dormant for a couple of months, but the pseudonymous Thorstein Veblen wrote, shortly before Thanksgiving: "I awoke this morning with a pounding headache.… And resolved it's time to start blogging again."

But Veblen's fire now seems directed at a fresh target: the Fed chairman Ben Bernanke, whom Veblen accuses of acting too phlegmatically in combating the downturn in spending caused by unemployment:

Here we are, in the 20-something odd month of labor market bleeding, and still the Fed's mighty printing presses are largely sitting idle. And despite the fact that textbook theory says you can print your way out of a liquidity trap, and that, in the situation we are in, the Fed should be rapidly expanding its balance sheet, the Fed has moved slowly and cautiously, consistently erring on the side of doing too little.

That appeared under the headline "Ben Bernanke Should Be Drawn And Quartered. And then hanged …"

Such is the ire of the blogger--"a Ph.D. student in a top 30 Economics Department"--toward Bernanke that he couldn't even enjoy his moment in the sun when Brad DeLong, the Berkeley economist and high-traffic blogger, recently quoted Veblen on the subject of Summers (to the effect that Summers was too much of a "deficit hawk" to be an ideal advisor when it came to economic stimulus).

On his own site, Veblen clarified his position: "The main point is that Ben Bernanke is God, not Larry Summers. Had Summers done more, who can say that the yahoos at the Fed wouldn't have done even less?"

Time for a blog name-change, to reflect the current preoccupation?

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About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
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