I was just honored by being asked to contribute an essay on Keynesian economics for a student reference textbook. The trouble was that it was required to be “neutral”. I replied to inform the economics professor who invited me that if I was to write such an essay, while it would certainly be objective, it would also be critical. At that, the invitation — as I fully expected — was respectfully withdrawn.
I completely understand this decision. I also find it an insightful glimpse into how the concept of being “neutral” is understood in mainstream discourse.
It reminds me of some of the customer reviews for my book Ron Paul vs. Paul Krugman: Austrian vs. Keynesian Economics in the Financial Crisis. The most common criticism among those who gave it a bad rating is that the book is “biased”.
The most recent comment, for example, charges that it is “totally biassed” (sic) and dismisses it with the following remarks:
There is nothing to recommend in this book. It is an exercise in selective misinformation by the author. Anyone who has taken the time to read Paul Krugman’s blog will know that. As for Ron Paul, his argument is basically End the Fed. Nothing to see there. Its a comparison between a broken clock and a clock that lses 1 minute a day. I’d still go with the latter.
My reply to this was:
Please provide an example of this “selective misinformation” you allege there is.
Ron Paul’s argument was that the Fed’s inflationary monetary was blowing up a housing bubble that would result in a financial crisis — while Paul Krugman was advocating that very same Fed policy.
Those are the facts. It is difficult to understand how one can “go with the latter” given the disastrous consequences.
Another critical reviewer offered:
This book is incredibly biased. Was hoping for a more balanced look at the two schools. Do not buy this book if you think it will help you understand business cycles. Zero predictive value.
“Zero predictive value”?
“The Federal Reserve credit created during the last eight months has not stimulated economic growth in technology or the industrial sector, but a lot of it ended up in the expanding real-estate bubble…” — Ron Paul, PREDICTING THE HOUSING BUBBLE on September 6, 2001 (see p. 20 of the book).
The book explores how he was able to foresee so early on what most professional economists were completely blind to.
(For the most entertaining and informative exchange, see this lengthy discussion I had with a negative reviewer.)
One reviewer who gave it 5 stars picked up on this tendency of my critics and replied:
I am quite stunned to read the reviews that claim Mr.Hammond is being biased; he provides COMPLETE references to all his quotes so you can see that nothing is taken out of context. Facts vindicate those who are correct and expose those who are not. There’s no bias here….
For anyone who thinks this book is biased or who just assumes the author is biased because he is criticizing Krugman, have a look at the references. The book is 100 pages, it can be read in no time. Read the book, then go online and see for yourself if the author is biased.
Ron Paul was right; Krugman was wrong.
Truly excellent work by Mr.Hammond.
And here’s what Barron’s had to say about it in its review of my book:
Any work of economics that can make you laugh is at least worth a look. If in less than 100 pages it also informs you about a subject of great importance, it might just qualify as a must-read. Jeremy Hammond, a political journalist self-taught in economics and a writer of rare skill, has produced such a book….. This short work conveys more insight into the causes and cures of business cycles than most textbooks, and more about the recent business cycle than most volumes of much greater length.