How Harvard Professor Greg Mankiw Caused the Credit Crisis

Obviously this is a nonsensical meme that will probably die on the vine, but for what it’s worth, there are Harvard students in rebellion right now.

Here’s Liz Dwyer writing at GOOD Magazine:

Harvard grads frequently go on to highly influential jobs on Wall Street, at think tanks, and in government. Did the principles they learned in their alma mater’s most popular class cause America’s financial crisis and growing wealth gap? That’s the view of a group of approximately 70 students who walked out of professor N. Gregory Mankiw’s Economics 10 class this week in solidarity with the Occupy protests happening coast-to-coast.

The students say the conservative slant of the economic theories taught by the prominent professor are driving policies that create inequality. According to their open letter to Mankiw—who advised President George W. Bush and now Mitt Romney—the free market, laissez faire capitalism he teaches to nearly 700 students every semester deprives students of “an analytic understanding of economics as part of a quality liberal arts education.”Mankiw’s academic influence also extends well beyond Harvard. His textbook, Principles of Economics, is widely used in introduction to economics classes nationwide.

Without any “critical discussion of both the benefits and flaws” of alternative economic theories, the students say, it’s “difficult for subsequent economics courses to teach effectively” since coeds who take the class are familiar with “only one heavily skewed perspective.” The students also say that Mankiw’s class “does not include primary sources and rarely features articles from academic journals.”

All those Ivy League rocket scientists, the theory goes, are then shuttled into the realms of high finance and Wall Street executivity, from whence they proceed to apply these disastrous trickle-down weapons of mass wealth-bifurcation to the markets and socioeconomic policy that they become powerful enough to shape.

Maybe there’s something to it, but as explanation of the entire credit crisis it’s obviously overwrought when simple human nature and the greed/fear cycle work well enough.

Meanwhile, over at The Big Picture, Mike Konczal is debunking another myth – the one that goes “Fannie and Freddie gave all this money to dumb, poor people and that was the beginning of the end for the housing market.”  Check it out below as well.


Did a Harvard Economics Class Cause the Financial Crisis? (GOOD)

Hey Mayor Bloomberg! No, the GSEs Did Not Cause the Financial Meltdown (TBP)




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