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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Obama & behavorial economics

After a friend mentioned that Obama may be too leftist/liberal on economics for him, thought I'd look up some info.

Seems like he's been pushed to talk a more protectionist line b/c of the democratic primary process/special interests (witness the flak he's getting from some unions just b/c he's taking on a director of economic policy associated w/ Rubin and his Hamilton project: )

There was one article I'd seen earlier on Bloomberg earlier this year about Obama's team of economics advisors:

The main guy I keep hearing about is Goolsbee, a UChicago prof. Seems like he's pushed Obama to include some ideas from behavioral economics into his plans. This article has more about that:

A google search also turned up these links:
which is really just a summary of this:

The Salon link quotes the conclusion:

"Obama and Goolsbee propose something entirely different - not a triangulation, but a basis for crafting public policy orthogonal to the traditional liberal-conservative axis.

If this approach needs a name, call it left-libertarianism. Advancements in behavioural economics, public and rational choice theory, and game theory provide us with an opportunity to attend to inequality without crippling the economy, enhancing the coercive power of the state, or infringing on personal liberty."

The Guardian piece is long, but looks like it's worth skimming.

Another long piece but more recent piece on how the UofC school of behavioral economics is finding its way into Obama's policies:

that one is about Obama, but is also a review of Thaler and Sunstein's new book about behavioral economics--Thaler being the dean of that UofC school of thought, and Sunstein a longtime law prof at the UofC (though wikipedia says he's moving to Harvard:

for a quick summary of that long nyrb piece, google actually turned up this, which links to the nyrb piece: