Guest Post: Is UTA's James Galbraith A True Economist?

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Sat, 06/26/2010 - 13:57 | 435480 DavidC
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So, he's not impressed with Galbraith then, do I read that correctly?



Sat, 06/26/2010 - 16:45 | 435631 Eternal Student
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Well, it's kind of mixed, I'd say. He seems to think that not being an Economist is a bad thing. How any one can think that being an Economist is somehow worthy of respect, given the incredibly bad track record, is beyond me.


Sat, 06/26/2010 - 20:59 | 435796 Withdrawn Sanction
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“…How any one can think that being an Economist is somehow worthy of respect given the incredibly bad track record, is beyond me.”  Doubtless it IS beyond you, as is an understanding that people or professions are not monolithic; but hey I get it, stereotypes are so handy.  One doesn’t usually see such intellectual bigotry so nakedly on display.  BTW, it should have been a lower case “e.”    


Sun, 06/27/2010 - 08:39 | 436298 Eternal Student
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Well, considering that nearly the entire field missed calling the Crash of 2008, yes, I'd say it's really clear that there's something quite wrong with the profession. Completely missing the biggest event in their career is the definition of incompetence. That you're so impressed by this inability is something that you might want to wonder about.

For the 18 or so who actually did publish warnings about it, yes, I am impressed by them. But even one of them thinks the world would be better off if all Economists were shot. I agree mostly with him; I'd give those 18 a free pass though. The hell with the others; they are clearly fools, and dangerous ones at that.

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 13:08 | 436601 sgt_doom
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Exactly, and brilliantly said, Eternal Student (and great handle, BTW).

The far more valid and salient question is: how many of those clowns who claim to be heavy-duty economists understand anything?

What they have long been preaching is nothing more than monopoly finance.

And guess what (rhetorical question here)?  It doesn't work but for a select few debt-financed billionaires and trillionaires!

And those who have long been preaching this -- and claim to be economists -- have begun attempting to reinvent themselves.

Far too late for globalist-loving (let's offshore all jobs in America) Paul Krugman, Alan Blinder, Simon Johnson, Jeffrey Sachs, Stiglitz (although I appreciate his recent pronouncements, 'natch!), et al.

If one isn't honest enough, or man enough, or scholarly enough, to admit to the real agenda being pushed by the IMF and World Bank and their associated banksters, then the description "professional economist" simply doesn't cut it.

If a woman claiming to be one, who is a university economics professor and has been a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute (or Toot!) can't even support her filmsy so-called "studies" with actual source data (after repeated calls and correspondence, she could only mail a pathetic graph to me), then these aren't remotely economists we are constantly being subjected to!

Years back, the Bretton Woods Committee, the lobbyist group for the ultra-rich, seeded various universities throughout the country (Harvard, Princeton, UC, University of Michigan, etc., etc.) with various of their lackey economists (anyone who is doubtful of the integrity of any economist, please consult their membership list at


Sun, 06/27/2010 - 14:54 | 436813 SwapThis
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Excellent post Sargent. 

Mon, 06/28/2010 - 01:16 | 437818 Eternal Student
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Thank you. And spot on and briliantly said yourself!

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 21:02 | 435799 Vecon
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Apparently we now live in the world of Mccarthyism, again. Everyone who cares for anything other than some ignorant misinterpreted definition of capitalism (we haven't seen real capitalism in decades) is a comunist.

Here's a definition of sociology:


Sociology is the study of society.[1] It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—that uses various methods of empirical investigation[2] and critical analysis[3] to develop and refine a body of knowledge about human social activity, often with the goal of applying such knowledge to the pursuit of social welfare. Subject matter ranges from the micro level of agency and interaction to the macro level of systems and social structures.[4]

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 12:08 | 436540 Insiderman
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Definitions, too, can be pretty subjective: "Sociology is excited ignorance in the frantic search for a truth that never existed." 

The problem as I see it is we continually try to add utility across individuals.  For example, I have a STRONG negative utility function associated with taking my money and giving it to others.  Depending on my level of income, sociologists would argue that the receiver has a higher utility from the redistributed work product due to the diminishing returns to utility as my income rises.  Therefore, society gains from redistributing my work product.

That completely belies the true purpose of money in a capitalist system; that is, cumulating money in the hands of efficient producers for the greater good of society.  True that I have diminishing returns from personal expenditure of that marginal work product.  However, society has exponentially greater utility from the redeployment of my marginal work product into greater production (moving the long-run supply curve to the right in Econ 1010 terms).  I not only get to keep my marginal utility (albeit diminished), but I engender utility-creating increases in potential output.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 14:01 | 435483 mikla
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Nice work!

In fact, he's much further from a practitioner of science and much closer to a practitioner of divine mysticism. Galbraith is like some kind of self-appointed high priest of the social value cult, the only one able to communicate with the social value gods and return from the holy mount with the latest prophecy. What if someone else wants to go up and have a word with the spirits? Sorry, says Galbraith, they only talk to me. But, I think you're wrong, says you. I'll be the judge of that, says Galbraith.

This, of course, is the essence of most social engineering masquerading as rationalized "science" by the ruling elites.  Sometimes they are merely projecting their warped world view; sometimes they are actively stealing whatever they can while distracting you with bullsh*t.  All of the time people and society suffer as a result.

It's amazing society tolerates their nonsense and their demonstrably repeatedly failed central planning.


Sat, 06/26/2010 - 22:59 | 435917 Cognitive Dissonance
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Galbraith is a public keeper of the myth, also known as the public lies. Some are official, some are officially sponsored and some are self appointed. Collectively their job is simply, support and reinforced all our public myths, be they economic, military, social contract/status, religious and so on.

Galbraith is self appointed but also belongs to the officially sponsored category. The keepers of the myth are the most important part of the overall control mechanism because they teach the slaves (you and me) where we fall in the pecking order and the rules for being the best slave we can be. 

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 01:00 | 436045 lawrence1
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Well put.  Most US trained enonomists are apologists for their employe's interests. I recommend reading Ravi Batra who wrote "Greenspan's Fraud" and would welcome suggestions of non-US establishment economists.
And with respect to the author of this critique of Gailbraith, I note on his homepage the offer of a free report recommending a stock owned by Buffet. I guess Gailbraith's viewpoints don't mix well with his stock picks. Sometimes I think Tyler chooses guest posts just to see what happens. But that's just fine, it's the best site around and there is a certain satisfaction in watching intellectual crucifixions considering the almost everything in the mainstream media deserves them.


Sun, 06/27/2010 - 09:44 | 436366 idle muesli
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Ravi Batra, that's not the guy who regularly predicts economic end times?

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 12:10 | 436545 Insiderman
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Sociologists are responsible for codifying the vision of the anointed.

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 13:12 | 436605 sgt_doom
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What was your opinion of Galbraith's book, The Predator State?

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 14:15 | 435492 dryam
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Here's a clip from April when Schiff took on Galbraith.  The guy is a complete putz.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 14:17 | 435493 Carl Marks
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Socialism is treasonous because it violates the principles upon which this country was founded and makes a mockery of our Constitutional liberties. Socialists should be tried for treason and suffer the consequences.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 16:42 | 435628 Eternal Student
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Yeah. Free Market Capitalism has worked out just so well.

Honestly, how much money do you have to lose, directly and through higher taxes, before you get a clue?

My guess is all of it. And even then, you'll still be funding the Corporate Elite through your delusions.


Sat, 06/26/2010 - 17:36 | 435672 Bay of Pigs
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Free Market Capitalism? WTF? Speaking of delusions. Junked.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 18:05 | 435692 Eternal Student
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I guess you haven't been following what's been going on in the Economy. Yes, the point is that Free Market Capitalism is indeed delusional. Backatcha.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 18:20 | 435703 PeterSchump
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Mr. Circular Reasoning

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 21:33 | 435832 Sespian
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A fitting name you have...keep studying and maybe you'll come to understand what free market capitalism is and why we haven't had it here in the US in well over a century.  Best wishes to you freshmen.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 22:45 | 435891 ggm
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Isn't that always the complaint that practitioners of failed ideologies make?

"If only we had practiced the pure form of ________, it all would have turned out alright."

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 23:18 | 435935 fearsomepirate
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Free market capitalism is like a circle.  A circle is an abstract, mathematical concept that exists nowhere in reality.  But there are things in reality that approximate a circle, and, to the extent they approximate a circle, they act like a circle theoretically would.

So it is with free market capitalism.  To the extent our social order approximates free market capitalism, it produces prosperity and advance.  The less and less like a free market it becomes, the more and more unstable and destructive it gets.  But even a "close" approximation of the free market produces unfathomably more wealth than the many kinds of outright serfdom human history has given us.

Arguing that imperfect capitalism results in problems, therefore we might as well have socialism, is like arguing that imperfectly round gears vibrate, so we might as well make square gears.

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 09:05 | 436322 fiftybagger
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I suggest you move to Zimbabwe and see how that works out for you.


Sun, 06/27/2010 - 07:20 | 436253 Eternal Student
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As opposed to yourself, who is clearly all knowledgeable.

It's funny how the defenders of Goldman-Sachs and the Bankers come out when challenged about their failed belief system.

Free Market Capitalism and Communism are a lot alike. Neither have been tried in practice, both are fundamentally flawed, failed philosophies. And both still have their fuzzy headed advocates after each has failed, with the failure causing incredible destruction to the Economy and people's lives.

Sorry to gore your religion, but how many times does it have to fail before you get a clue?

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 15:27 | 436883 Bay of Pigs
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Sun, 06/27/2010 - 19:57 | 437342 Eternal Student
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This entire financial mess was created by the proponents of the neo-con version of Free Market Capitalism. They've been waving this banner for the past 20+ years, while marching everyone over the cliff.

Sorry, but anyone trying to support the very obviously failed notion of Free Market Capitalism is standing up, supporting and cheering for, Goldman and the neo-con agenda. That is the modern definition of Free Market Capitalism. Some might claim "oh, no, that's not what we mean". Sorry, that doesn't cut it. We got into this mess from the original version of FMC morphing into what it is now. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and expecting different results.

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 15:25 | 436885 Bay of Pigs
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WTF are you talking about? Defenders of Goldman Sachs? There isn't anyone doing that around here. Get your head out of the sand smartass.

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 13:17 | 436614 sgt_doom
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You guys keep claiming that "free market capitalism" works, then claim it was stolen by the predatory capitalists and their tools you claim to be "socialists" and then claim the USA doesn't have free market capitalism!

There has never been a free market, but plenty of free lunches for all those debt-financed billionaires and trillionaires.

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 02:07 | 436100 Miles Kendig
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Just because you have most likely never seen free markets in action is no reason to deride them...  One of the issues under discussion in the article is the potential that economics is nothing more than a theocracy that underpins what amounts to a form of faith based governance.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 20:23 | 435736 MichiganMilitiaMan
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Hey Eternal Student; I don't know! Where is the proof that ZIRP, QE, and "inflating the economy" to a solution" has worked out just so well .  How much of your wealth/savings has to be destroyed (and future for that matter), before you get a clue.  And at the end of it, all you will have done is financed a handful of corporate and political elites thievery of the lower and middle classes. Backatchaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 07:11 | 436256 Eternal Student
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Sorry, I don't support Bernake's policies one bit, and am of the opinion that they will lead to worse disaster over the long term.

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 13:19 | 436615 sgt_doom
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What you obviously fail to comprehend, MMM, is the trillions of dollars worth of loans upon layered loans upon layered loans, brought to you by the controllers of those credit derivatives which creates a continuum of economic meltdowns and wealth transfers.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 23:12 | 435931 fearsomepirate
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Wake me when we try free market capitalism.

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 14:08 | 436705 Bearster
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Uh, where in the world, exactly, do you think free market capitalism is being practiced?

Irredeemable paper money, central banks, high taxation, overweening regulation, antitrust, minimum wage, labor law, unlimited product liability doctrine, TBTF, FDIC, the welfare state, institutionalized reverse discrimination... these are NOT the hallmarks of free market capitalism.

But you knew that.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 17:25 | 435666 Uncle Remus
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Socialism is treasonous because it violates the principles upon which this country was founded and makes a mockery of our Constitutional liberties.


[V]iolat[ing] the principles upon which this country was founded and mak[ing] a mockery of our Constitutional liberties [is treason]? Ruh roh.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 14:23 | 435501 Remington IV
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Krugman , is that you ???

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 15:14 | 435544 SayTabserb
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I was thinking that Galbraith and Krugman should form a cult, called the Nonrealist School.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 15:05 | 435533 Charley
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"'Galbraith's support for Keynesian government intervention rest on what he believes one could 'reasonably' argue, where the word 'reasonable' is always and everywhere a Marxist code-word for 'What I think I can get unprincipled people to agree to my stealing without too much fuss.'" -- Conant

"I am not a marxist." --Karl Marx

(Trans. Don't blame Prof Galbraith's insipid arguments for Keynesianism on Marx. Keynes had only distaste for Marx, and the sentiment would have been returned in kind)

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 15:10 | 435539 Charley
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In fact, Keynes had a fondness for Hayek, as I recall. Which did not, on that account, make him a follower of Hayek.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 15:20 | 435546 BumpSkool
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"the truth is that Galbraith, as a socialist, is a politician, not a scientist"


....and economists are ??? (scientists? ... don't make me laugh)and anyway ... why should the banal "scientism" of provable empiricism be considered high art?



Sat, 06/26/2010 - 16:40 | 435625 AnAnonymous
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Old trick. Old trick. The guy points fingers because he does not want fingers to be pointed at him.

No difference between economists, all wings.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 18:01 | 435688 Gully Foyle
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"No difference between economists, all wings."

Maybe next season Penn and Teller will have an economist episode of BULLSHIT!

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 15:38 | 435564 lolmaster
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this article reflects nothing but a foolish naivety on behalf of the author. the role of all professional "economists" is nothing more than to be clever socialists and PR managers for the state, as anyone who practices real economics would quickly get a job that adds value to society. in fact "economists" have done more damage to the world than all the worst dictators and murderers in history combined, and through much more nefarious and cold-blooded methods. Marx himself (who incidentally first posed the "Jewish question") has done more damage than a thousand thousand Hitlers

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 15:44 | 435567 mikla
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(Although I must admit I enjoyed the article, and I agree with its fundamental assertions that Galbraith, like most professional economists, is a charlatan that hurts people.)

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 15:44 | 435573 lolmaster
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furthermore the author is ignorant of austrian economics, which thoroughly rejects "scientism." 


Galbraith is nothing but a mini-Marx, having done maybe 1/10th a Hitler's worth of damage to society.

Sat, 06/26/2010 - 15:54 | 435579 BumpSkool
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so instead of PR managers "for the state" ... let's do away with the state!

(and who was it who advocated that??)

Sun, 06/27/2010 - 13:25 | 436628 sgt_doom
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I would partially agree with your assessment, lolmaster, but differ in that in the Western Hemisphere there have been a very limited number of true economists.

Certainly, Michael Hudson is probably the most brilliant economist living, and Galbraith, Steven Keen, R. T. Naylor, Ravi Batra, and a small number of others actually practise economics per se.

Nassim Taleb brings a fine understanding of global finance and fundamental econ to the table.

But the aforementioned, along with one of the greatest economics thinkers of all time, Thorstein Veblen, act exactly the opposite of your "damage" opinion.


Sat, 06/26/2010 - 15:44 | 435572 Apostate
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I listened to the interview. Jimmy G is slipping... he's wasn't nearly as insane as is accustomed to.

My question is... why is he even debating an Austrian? I thought Austrians were supposed to be fringe lunatics who bark at the moon and don't believe in math?

How could such a respected professor deign to speak with such rabble?

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