Monday, May 18, 2009

Why I Love NPR's Planet Money

Aside from all of the other cool things about NPR and Planet Money - including a handy dandy and interesting podcast about the current economic condition as well as theories relating to that economic condition - is the fact that Foucault is referenced.


mikhailbakunin said...

I like Planet Money, too.

I was especially thrilled that Adam Davidson had the guts to criticized Elizabeth Warren, even though most of Planet Money's predominately left-of-center audience was ticket off about it.

The Congressional Oversight Panel shouold NOT have insane partisans like Jeb Hensarling and Elizabeth Warren on it.

petpluto said...

I love Adam Davidson; but although I thought his critique of Elizabeth Warren was justified, what I gathered a lot of the problem of the interview stemmed from was how on point and argumentative he was with Warren and how conciliatory and deferential he had been to Secretary Geithner.

I think there is an argument to be made that one is the Secretary of Treasury and one is not, but the combativeness of his interview with Warren was in such contrast to the other that I think it left some people scratching their heads and other people very angry - moreso than people being only angry that Davidson was railing against the specific interests of those on the Oversight Panel.

I could be wrong, but that was the impression I got from some of the comments I read and from the ensuing explanation by Davidson and Laura Conaway.

Personally, I liked the heated exchange because I liked the passion both of them brought to the argument. But I could see where people would be... upset? angered? ... by the taking to task of Warren and not Geithner.

mikhailbakunin said...

Yeah, I wish Davidson had gone after Tim Geithner a bit more. But Tim Geithner and Elizabeth Warren also have very different temperaments. I don't think that Geithner would have reacted to criticism the way that Warren did.

Geithner - like Obama - is almost preternaturally calm. Warren is a passionate advocate.

I'm with you. I liked the heated exchange. I listened to the entire thing, and I never felt that Davidson was being rude or disrespectful. From the comments that I read, it seemed like a lot of people were put off by what they saw as Davidson’s “bullying” tone. But I didn’t hear the follow-up, so you’re probably right that the majority of listeners were just offended at the double standard.

I do think the double standard makes some sense. Geithner has a mainstream view of macroeconomic theory, whereas Warren espouses some pretty marginal beliefs – like the idea that reversing income inequality is the key to ending the recession.

petpluto said...

Warren espouses some pretty marginal beliefs – like the idea that reversing income inequality is the key to ending the recession.I think I need to listen to the interview again, because I thought Warren's point was more that income inequality - and the strain put on the middle class monetarily in order to remain part of said middle class - is an underlying current that helps create the environment to cause recessions such as the one we're in now; and that her goal is to use this time to fix something she sees as a structural flaw rather than just to treat the symptoms of the recession and get caught off guard again in a couple of years, or a decade.

mikhailbakunin said...

I think Davidson’s point was that the long-run question of whether inflation in the U.S. is outpacing middleclass wage growth – causing middleclass family incomes to stagnate – isn’t really germane to our current predicament. Right now, there are two pressing concerns: a potential deflationary spiral, and an acute banking crisis.

Treasury set up TARP specifically to address the banking crisis, and the Congressional Oversight Panel (along with the SIGTARP) was tasked with monitoring and auditing this program. Critics are concerned that the COP is acting outside of its mandate – focusing on things like corporate executive compensation – and failing to adequately monitor the far more crucial problems associated with credit intermediation.

Elizabeth Warren, meanwhile, has placed her emphasis on the so-called “war on the middleclass,” which she seems to believe was the underlying cause of our current crisis. It’s true that there is some debate among macroeconomists over whether income inequality has a positive or negative impact on economic growth (the issue is far from settled). But as far as I know, few (if any) macroeconomists believe that income inequality is a major cause of recession. Warren has an extremely marginal view, and it’s a view that she's been pushing hard.

The big problem that I have with Elizabeth Warren is that she isn’t a macroeconomists; she’s a Harvard law professor and a personal bankruptcy lawyer. And while she’s obviously a very smart woman, she seems to approach macroeconomic questions from a microeconomic perspective – which is a logical perspective for a consumer bankruptcy lawyer, but an insufficient perspective for someone who’s reviewing a program that’s aimed at mitigating a global banking crisis.

mikhailbakunin said...

On an entirely separate note, what are you doing for Memorial Day?