International Finance and Financial Policy

By Hans R. Stoll | Go to book overview

9
Economic Policy Coordination

PAUL W. MCCRACKEN

Dewey Daane represents a genre of people in the economics profession who move easily and with distinction from government service to the private sector to academe. Politically we also have something in common. He is a member of the minority party when it comes to the White House, and I have been a member of the minority party in everything except the White House. Even so, we have found ourselves in substantial agreement about the items that ought to be on the agenda of economic worries, and policies to deal with these problems.

There is a basic and solid analytical contribution by the discipline of economics to decisions about economic policy that has nothing to do with ideology or political affiliations. A review of memoranda to the president in the archives of the Council of Economic Advisers, for example, would show an impressive continuity even when the new tenant in the Oval Office shifts to the other party. Should the minimum wage, for example, be increased? That question will produce a wide range of answers reflecting economic, social, and political preferences. There is, however, an analytical question. If the minimum wage is increased, what will be the effects on unemployment and the price level? On this question economists (who as citizens would still reflect a wide variety of social and political views) will be in closer agreement.

English, presumably like most other languages, has some words that wear black hats and others that wear white hats. "Coordination" is in the latter category. My unabridged dictionary, published back when the editors had no inhibitions about declaring what is correct and what is not, explains that coordination is a combination to give harmonious results. Since one is not inclined to propose economic policies, or structures for arriving at economic policies,

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