98 Foreign Aff. 176 (2019)
Snake-Oil Economics

handle is hein.journals/fora98 and id is 178 raw text is: 





Snake-Oil

Economics

The Bad Math Behind
Trump's Policies

N Gregory Mankiw



Trump-nomics: Imnide the America First
Plan to Rev iz;x Our Economv
BY S'TEPHEN MOORE AND
AI{TIUIR B. LAFFER. All Points
Books, 2018, 287 pp.
W hen economists write, they
           can decide among three
           possible voices to convey
their message. The choice is crucial,
because it aftkcts how readers receive
their work.
   The first voice might be called the
textbook autorityt Here, economists
act as ambassadors for their profession.
They faitihfuly present the wide range
of views professional economists hold,
acknowledging the pros and cons of
each. Tb  e authors do their best to
hide their personal biases and admit that
there is still. plenty that economists do
not know. According to this perspective,
reasonable people can disagree; it is the
author's job to explain the basis for that
disagreement and help readers make an
informed judgment.

N. GREGORY MANKIW is Robert M, Beren
Professor of Economics at Harvard University.
From 2003 to 2005, he was Chair of the Council
of Economic Advisers under U.S. President
George W Bush.


   The second voice is that of the nu-
anced advocate, In this case, economists
advance a point of view while recognizing
the diversity of thought among reasonable
people. They use state-of-the-art
theory and evidence to try to persuade
the undecided and shake the faith of
those who disagree. They take a stand
without pretending to be omniscient.
They acknowledge that their intellectual
opponents have some serious arguments
and respond to them calmly and
without vitriol.
   The third voice is that of the rah-rah
partisan. Rah--rah partisans do not build
their analysis on the foundation of profes--
sional consensus or serious studies from
peer-reviewed journals. They deny that
people who disagree with them may have
some logical points and that there may be
weaknesses in their own arguments. In
their view, the world is simple, and the
opposition is 1u,,st wrong, wrong, wrong.
Rah-rah partisans do not aim to persuade
the undecided. They aim to rally the
faithful.
   Unfortunately, this last voice is the
one the economists Stephen Moore and
Arthur Lafer chose in writing their
new book, 'I'umpononics. 'The book's
over-the-top enthusiasm for U.S. Presi-
dent Donald Trump's sketchy econornic
agenda is not likely to convince anyone
not already sporting a Make America
Great Again hat.

ECONOMIC TRIBALISM
Moore and Laffer served as economic
advisers to Trump during his campaign
and after he was elected president (along
with I.,arrv Kudlow, the current. director
of the National Economic Coumil. who
wrote the book's foreword). From this
experience, Moore and Laffer apparently


176   FOREIGN AFFAIRS

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