One of the silver linings of the credit crisis was that it outed numerous full-of-shit charlatans who had been previously posing as economic soothsayers, often in the service of whichever political think tanks cut their checks or invited them to black tie circlejerks at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Ben Stein had all but crushed himself as a serious commentator during the run up to and the aftermath of the credit crisis. He was done by 2009, save for a few last whimpers of punditry on the WSJ’s op-ed page or the idiotically facile Saturday morning money shows of CNN and Fox.
But I’ll never forget this one piece of his, this towering skyscraper of condescension that was inexplicably published in the New York Times business section five years ago today.
It is epic both for its canonical wrongness (every single trope the bulls and Bush supporters were trotting out back then make it into the piece) and for its nastiness toward Goldman Sachs economist Jan Hatzius, one of the few who got the crisis right. Stein rips into Hatzius for being intelligent, European, Oxford-educated, an employee at Goldman, an economist, honest, skeptical, polite and possibly complicit in a pessimism scam designed to aid his firm’s short trades at the expense of America.
It is truly one of the most disgusting and stupid things you’ll ever read. I’ll not excerpt from the piece because I don’t want to spoil any of it for you.
Five years ago today, here’s Mr. Stein on why housing is fine, so is the economy and Hatzius is a giant, criminal asshole:
What a dick.