Economic Policy - David Brooks' Article

This is probably one of the better articles written by the columnist David Brooks. He provides clear distinctions between two cultures of economic thoughts, one is conservative and one is liberal. In recent years, the liberal economists are emphasizing on more quantitative rigors, claiming, "The performance of the economic machine can be predicted with quantitative macroeconomic modelsT".  David Brooks provides a simple example: "These models can be used to make highly specific projections. If the government borrows $1 and then spends it, it will produce $1.50 worth of economic activity. If the government spends $800 billion on a stimulus package, that will produce 3.5 million in new jobs."

On the other hand the conservative economists are emphasizing on psychological concerns, like, "If the government borrows trillions of dollars, this will increase public anxiety and uncertainty", and also present moralistic arguments, like, "This country is already too profligate, they cry. It already shops too much and borrows too much. How can we solve our problems by borrowing and spending more?"

Liberal economists counter the conservative economists' psychological argument as mythological, and moralistic argument as an impossibility, because, "Economics is a rational activity detached from morality. Hardheaded policy makers have to have the courage to flout conventional morality — to borrow even when the country is sick of borrowing."

The problems perhaps lies in the very fundamental of economy. David Brooks explains, "When you look around the world at the countries that have come through the recession best, it’s not the countries with the brilliant and aggressive stimulus models. It’s the ones like Germany that had the best economic fundamentals beforehand."

And the old wisdom of the common sense perhaps still applies, "simple regulations, low debt, high savings, hard work, few distortions."