Monday, June 06, 2011

Utterly astounding, and indeed nauseating

Nobel Laureate economist Peter Diamond has withdrawn his candidacy to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, a victim of Republican obstructionism. Apart from the fact that he is a great economist, whose work (for example, on Social Security) I personally have benefited from reading, his expertise on labor markets could not possibly be more central to the Fed's mission of stabilizing the economy by addressing both inflation and unemployment.

The Republican Senators who blocked his candidacy apparently claim that labor market expertise (and by extension, unemployment) is irrelevant to the Fed's mission. I hope they will have the honesty to campaign for public office, in 2012 and thereafter, on the basis of this view of unemployment's policy irrelevance. No one who is even minimally economically literate could deny the Fed's vital role in addressing business cycle-related unemployment. In many people's view (including mine), the Fed has been doing far too little on this score. The blocking of Diamond's appointment follows a broader pattern that raises serious questions about the Republicans' good faith interest in permitting the state of the U.S. economy to improve.

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