Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

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Volume 4, Issue 1, January 2007

In This Issue:

Welcome to the January 2007 issue of Econ Journal Watch. EJW is a triannual peer-reviewed journal for scholarly commentary on academic economics.

In Memoriam (pdf)


  • Empire—Goods and Bads: Two recent JEH papers, by Kris James Mitchener & Marc Weidenmier, and Niall Ferguson & Moritz Schularick, purport to show the desirability of imperial interventions by showing some short-term financial advantages. But Christopher Coyne and Steve Davies elucidate the long-term public bads concomitant of imperialistic fixes. They use time series data from the well-known Polity IV index to assess the overall effectiveness of “nation building” and “global public goods provision,” and demand that scholars to be mindful of all important consequences of an interventionist foreign policy.
  • Death and Taxes: The average layperson hates inflation more than does the average economist. N. Gregory Mankiw, Robert Hall, John Taylor, David Romer, Robert Schiller, and others have puzzled over the conundrum. Yet, Jeffrey Hummel explains, they have overlooked an obvious aspect: The layperson likely views the “inflation tax” as an arbitrary and unpredictable taking, without much offsetting public benefit.
  • Macro mechanics: What happens in the monetary sector when the government engages in “pure fiscal policy”? Lee C. Spector and T. Norman Van Cott indict many modern macro and money textbooks for neglecting monetary basics and giving a misleading view of macro mechanics. On the matter, they call for a return to the scruples of Warburton, Friedman, Pesek & Saving, Darby, Leijonhufvud, and Alchian and Allen.
  • The Level, the Change, or Both? Julio H. Cole joins Robert Lawson in the debate with Jakob de Haan and Jan-Egbert Sturm over whether the level, the change, or both should be used in studying the how economic freedom affects economic growth.

Do Economists Reach a Conclusion on household and municipal recycling? Matthew Gunter finds that they don’t.

Character Issues: The Practical Utility of Economic Science, according to Edwin Cannan—a presidential address from 1902.

Economics In Practice: "Why I Support the Minimum Wage"—Using an open-ended, non-anonymous questionnaire, Daniel Klein and Stewart Dompe asked 644 “raise the minimum wage” signatories about the specific mechanisms at work, possible downsides, and whether the minimum wage violates liberty. Ninety-five participated, including Barbara Bergmann, Margaret Blair, Alan Blinder, Barry Bosworth, Marianne Ferber, James K. Galbraith, Richard J. Gilbert, Robert Haveman, Kevin Lang, Frank Levy, Catherine Mann, Lawrence Mishel, James B. Rebitzer, Christopher Udry, Thomas Weisskopf, and Edward Wolff. Also featured is correspondence from Henry Aaron, Ronald Ehrenberg, and Robert Solow.

Download and Print Entire January 2007 Issue (170 pages, 5.5 MB)