Professor of Economics Richard Grossman recently had three op-eds published in major newspapers. All related in different ways to the U.S. Congress’ negotiations over the budget and debt ceiling, and the resulting shut down. Grossman is the author of a new book, Wrong: Nine Economic Policy Disasters and What We Can Learn from Them, published this month by Oxford University Press. Read more about it in this Wesleyan Connection story.
The Hartford Courant on Oct. 4 published an op-ed by Grossman arguing that the Republicans were on an “ideological crusade” in their refusal to pass a continuing budget resolution unless substantial changes were made to the Affordable Care Act. Pointing to examples as diverse as the 19th century Irish famine and Japan’s refusal to confront its ailing banks in the 1990s, Grossman writes: “Republicans should take a lesson from history, which has shown time and time again that such ideological crusades, when applied to economic policy, can have disastrous consequences.”
And on Oct. 19, USA Today published another op-ed calling upon policy makers to regularly conduct “autopsies” of economic policy—particularly when things go wrong, as with the recent government shut-down and near-breach of the debt ceiling. “Although the current shut-down is a pitiful attempt by the Republicans to reverse what is settled law and policy (Obamacare), it is not clear that the Democrats have advanced any sound agenda for solving our national budget issues during the last two years either,” Grossman writes. “It is time to call in a pathologist. Even though digging through the viscera of the political stalemate in Washington would no doubt turn our collective national stomach, it’s an autopsy that is well worth conducting.”
And on Oct. 20, The Boston Globe published another op-ed by Grossman, in which he writes that October should be labeled “Financial Crisis Month.” Over the past two centuries in the U.S. and Europe, October—and, more generally, the autumn months—have seen a string of serious financial crises. Grossman explains the historical reasons behind this trend, from the timing of the harvest to the bursting of asset bubbles. Today, he writes, politicians returning from their summer vacations and doing “stupid things” is most likely to blame for the continued popularity of financial crises in October.