Sumner, Wilson, Harding, Keynes
By Bryan Caplan
In his latest one-two punch, Scott Sumner…
1. …explains why Woodrow Wilson was the worst president in U.S. history:
…Wilson’s economic policies were
perhaps the worst in American history. He presided over the creation
of the Fed and the income tax, which went from 0% to something like 70%
while he was president. In the long run the Fed may have been a good
thing, but there can be no doubt that 1913 was premature, we didn’t
know anywhere near enough about monetary policy to warrant a central
bank meddling in the gold standard.
Wilson had arguably the most destructive foreign policy in American
history. When there is a delicate balance of power in Europe you don’t
want to meddle unless you plan to stay there permanently. Yes, I know
Wilson did intend the US to hang around, but he should have known we
were an isolationist country before he brought us into WWI. All he did
was assure that the strongest country in Europe lost.
2. …rescues the erudite Warren Harding from historians’ complete lack of perspective…
What was Harding’s great crime? A few of his aides took bribes.
3. …mocks Keynes for the ages:
[W]ithout help from his rich daddy and rich friends, this cocky,
arrogant, smart-aleck would have fallen on his face, ended up digging
ditches somewhere and we would never have heard of him.
4. …then tells us why his ad hominem against Keynes ends in macroeconomic wisdom:
From now on I will never believe anyone who tells me that Keynes was a
great investor. Does this matter? It shouldn’t, but unfortunately it
does. If his investment reputation was like Fisher’s (calling stocks
fairly priced in 1929) nobody would take seriously his Chapter 12 in
the General Theory where he tries to shoot down the efficient
market hypothesis. That is the chapter that has a lot of nonsense
about musical chairs, beauty contests, and the seasonality of ice