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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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Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


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