Blair’s Science Desk

Fun with economists

Here’s a collection of Twitter responses to my article ‘Do High Interest Rates Reduce Inflation? A Test of Monetary Faith’.

Note: In the article, I documented the tight positive relation between interest rates and inflation. I pointed out that if interest rates actually down-regulated inflation, then this evidence doesn’t make much sense.

Economists begged to disagree. I’ll let you judge the responses for yourself. But for me, the telling thing is that almost no one responded with counter evidence. Most of the criticism was thinly veiled ridicule.

Also, I have no idea how many of these commenters are trained economists. But I guess it doesn’t matter. Monetary orthodoxy is part of the social zeitgeist, and many people feel compelled to defend it.

Calling Fisher’s name

In 1907, Irving Fisher discovered that interest rates rise and fall with inflation. Today, economists call this pattern the ‘Fisher effect’. Does it say anything about down-regulating inflation? No. Is it academic namedropping in place of an argument? Yes.

its the fisher effect 1 its the fisher effect 2

Here are more variations on the same theme, but without the Fisher namedropping.

its finance 101 its ovious no suprise

Here’s another variation that is one of my favorites. I wish I had a large ’theoretical base’. All I can muster is evidence.

theoretical base

Umbrellas, medicine and hospitals … therefore you are wrong

Milton Friedman was a master of ‘proof’ via analogy. Here’s as a collection of responses that counter my empirical evidence with an analogy. It’s good rhetoric, but bad science. If only there was evidence behind the banter.

umbrella 1 umbrella 2 umbrella 3 umbrella 4

ibuprofen medicine stabbing antibiotics hospital 1 hospital 2 police

This comment cuts right to the fallacious point. “If people do it, it must work.”

it must work

Old-fashioned insults

And then there commenters who resorted to straightforward insults. Here are the greatest hits.

insult 1 insult 2 insult 3 insult 4 insult 5 insult 6

First they ignore you, then they ridicule you

I consider the preceding ridicule to be progress of a sort. When I criticise economic orthodoxy, I typically get no response at all. That said, Twitter brawl’s are about as much fun as a frontal lobotomy.