Thursday, November 27, 2008

Redefining "grownup" and "hack"

In a post about the Obama economic team titled The Grownups are Coming, Paul Krugman writes:
Seriously, isn’t it amazing just how impressive the people being named to key positions in the Obama administration seem? Bye-bye hacks and cronies, hello people who actually know what they’re doing.
Like Paul, I am impressed by the new economic team. I know best the three economists coming from academia--Larry Summers, Christy Romer, and Austan Goolsbee--and they are all first-rate. They are excellent choices.

But are they really in a different class than those in the previous administration? Based a standard ranking of economists' academic accomplishments as of October 2008, here is where these three stand (out of more than 18,000 economists), together with the rankings of all the CEA chairmen appointed by President Bush:

11. Larry Summers
21. Greg Mankiw
35. Ben Bernanke
99. Eddie Lazear
132. Glenn Hubbard
249. Harvey Rosen
391. Christy Romer
653. Austan Goolsbee

Judging by this objective criterion, it looks like the two adminstrations are drawing economists from roughly the same talent pool.

Of course, if one defines "grownup" as a person who agrees with Paul Krugman, and "hack" as a person who does not, then one might come to a different conclusion.