What Job Does Stephen Williamson Think Narayana Kocherlakota Is Angling For?

A blog about business and economics.
Nov. 20 2012 11:39 AM

What Job Does Stephen Williamson Think Narayana Kocherlakota Is Angling For?

I just noticed that Stephen Williamson took issue with my praise of Minneapolis Federal Reserve President Narayana Kocherlakota's change of positioning on monetary policy issues.

He didn't really explain himself in the post per se, but in ensuing comments in the discussion thread Williamson makes clear that he doesn't buy the idea that Kocherlakota was persuaded to change his mind by evidence. Rather, he states that the only good theory he has for the flip-flop is that "ambition collides with economic science." In general my impression is that people who run around talking a lot about "economic science" are generally engaged in an unscientific level of self-puffering and BS. But that aside, it would be interesting to engage in a little psychological science. Having put forward the theory that Kocherlakota is only pretending to be persuaded by evidence, Williamson doesn't offer any theory as to what the nature of the ambition is. What job is he angling for?


Here's what I think about ambition. I think that if I were an ambitious monetary economist who believed in good faith that the current course being pursued by the FOMC will be ineffective in boosting employment and is likely to produce a troubling level of inflation, I'd be shouting that from the rooftops.

Why? Because when we're mired in inflation, all the whores and politicians will look up and shout "save us!" and they'll be shouting at the people who called it right. When Milton Friedman warned that the naive Phillips Curve economics being pursued by the Federal Reserve in the late-60s and 70s would lead to ruinous inflation, nobody listened to him. Until suddenly they did listen to him and low and behold Milton Friedman was super-famous. Developing a correct analysis of the situation and then explain it is obviously no guarantee of success in your career. But all else being equal, it tends to help. That said, sometimes things aren't equal. But I wonder what it is Williamson thinks isn't equal here? What job is Kocherlakota angling for? And how will pretending to believe something he knows is wrong help him get it?

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.



Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Votes to Remain in U.K.

There’s a Way to Keep Ex-Cons Out of Prison That Pays for Itself. Why Don’t More States Use It?

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

Can Democrats Keep Counting on Republicans to Offend Women as a Campaign Strategy?


Theo’s Joint and Vanessa’s Whiskey

No sitcom did the “Very Special Episode” as well as The Cosby Show.


The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Cliff Huxtable Explains the World: Five Lessons From TV’s Greatest Dad

Why Television Needs a New Cosby Show Right Now

  News & Politics
The World
Sept. 19 2014 11:36 AM Breaking Up Countries Is Still Hard to Do
Business Insider
Sept. 19 2014 11:37 AM Why Urban Outfitters and Other Brands Troll Their Customers
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 19 2014 11:32 AM Why Do Pirates Talk Like That?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM Planned Parenthood Is About to Make It a Lot Easier to Get Birth Control
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Sept. 19 2014 11:51 AM This Is All That’s Left of New York’s Once-Thriving Borscht Belt 
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 11:40 AM Apple Invented the Perfect Way to Handle Your Giant New Phone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 19 2014 11:33 AM The Curious Incident of the Supernova in the Nighttime
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.