ADAGIO has just re-entered the cybersphere in San Francisco — the destination of our four day passage from Victoria. So there is much catching-up to do, such as these links offered by Harvard economist Greg Mankiw. Any comments would be appreciated:
A list recently released by the McCain campaign. It includes five Harvard professors.
Some blog readers may ask, why didn’t I sign? I am not particularly fond of Obama’s proposed tax hikes or his apparent retreat from free trade. (See this article of mine.) But I thought the statement in the group letter that “his proposals run a high risk of throwing the economy into a deep recession” was a tad too hyperbolic for my tastes.
Update: A reader alerts me to a longer list of pro-McCain, anti-Obama economists here.
UPDATE: now that we have Internet access I followed Greg’s link, finding these collective statements by an obviously very concerned group of economists:
Our Statement on Senator McCain’s Economic Plan, 535 Signatories so far
Our Statement on Senator Obama’s Economic Plan, 364 Signatories so far
I don’t know every economist who signed, but scanning the signatories I noted such as Harvard’s Robert Barro, Nobel laureate and one of the very best researchers on policies that produce strong economic growth. Similarly, U of Chicago’s Robert Lucas. These gentlemen are the cream of the crop in the area that means the most to citizens and investors.
The site’s issues page is also a resource.
What does this all mean? First, it looks to me that McCain isn’t very interested in economics, at least as to theory. If he was a student of basic economics, he would never have come out with the silly “gas tax holiday” plank. But McCain’s voting record and public statements prove that he is a solidly in the free market camp. So his political philosophy is right, and I am comfortable that he will support basically sound pro-growth policies. True, he is not a Thatcher, and has a tendency to think in terms of federal government “solutions”. So I don’t expect McCain to fight for a smaller government overall.
Obama seems to be solidly in the central-planning, top-down government controlled economy camp. Every Obama policy I’ve seen, from taxation to trade to health care has been very bad policy. His very short voting record is horrible — by every measure he is the most left-wing presidential candidate ever. I was hopeful when Obama took on Jason Furman as an economic advisor — but that was about six months ago, and I’ve seen no evidence of better policy positions.
Bottom line: Obama together with a Democratic Senate and House is a very scary prospect. What is the probability that Obama would lead a realistic reform of the entitlements train wreck? McCain is fundamentally a risk-taker. I could see him taking on the reform leadership, and finding a way to cut a deal with the Democrats that would offer some hope.
The worst case I can see with McCain is a deadlock with Congress. That probably would mean less government interference in the economy.