NYT Smears Craig Pirrong, Scott Irwin

28 December 2013 at 4:15 pm 9 comments

| Peter Klein |

The NYT runs a hatchet-job on the brilliant financial economist (and former O&M guest blogger) Craig Pirrong. Apparently Craig not only does academic research on commodity markets and participates in public policy debates about commodity-market regulation but also — gasp! — is a paid consultant for commodity-trading firms. Without detailing any specific impropriety, the Times implies that Craig is little more than a shill for big evil corporations, or something. “Academics Who Defend Wall St. Reap Reward,” screams the Times headline.

Thousands of economists are paid consultants for the Federal Reserve System, World Bank, IMF, USDA, and virtually every government agency around the world, but you will never hear the Times suggest that their research or public advocacy could in the slightest way be compromised by these ties. As Larry White and E. C. Pasour have pointed out, the academic work funded by government agencies nearly always — surprise! — comes out in defense of those agencies, their missions, and their generous contributions to the public good. Did the prospect of heading the world’s most powerful economic planing agency influence Janet Yellen’s public testimony, her research, or her leadership at the San Francisco Fed? Can you imagine a Times headline, “Academics Who Defend Fed Reap Reward”?

Scott Irwin, a distinguished agricultural economist at the University of Illinois is also targeted. Again, the message is clear. If you oppose the Times’s editorial position on regulation (or any other issue), you are compromised by financial or other ties. If you support the Times’s position, you are a scholar or public figure of great integrity.

Update: See also Felix Salmon’s excellent summary of the “non-scandal.”

Entry filed under: - Klein -, Financial Markets, Former Guest Bloggers, Myths and Realities. Tags: .

Walter Oi, 1929-2013 Pirrong Responds

9 Comments Add your own

  • 1. SkepticProf  |  28 December 2013 at 4:51 pm

    Let’s not forget J. Stiglitz and P. Krugman as data points.

  • 2. Scott Masten  |  28 December 2013 at 5:50 pm

    “When oil company executives, traders and investment banks cited speculation as a major cause of surging prices which, by some estimates, was costing American consumers more than $300 billion a year, Mr. Pirrong dutifully contradicted them.” Dutifully! NYT reporter dutifully caters to its dwindling readership’s biases in an attempt to sell newspapers.

  • 3. David Hoopes  |  28 December 2013 at 6:59 pm

    That’s too bad. Craig is no one’s shill. He does distinguish between speculation and manipulation which is tough for the NYT to get their little brains around. Craig’s work has done a lot to shed light on illegal market manipulation. A subject on which he has put in a great deal of work.

  • 4. Scott Masten  |  29 December 2013 at 9:55 am

    The more that I think about this, the more that it burns me. I have known Craig for close to a quarter century (we met in 1988 and he came to Michigan in 1989), and he is probably the least corruptible person that I know. Craig says what he thinks. Period. Indeed, his refusal to kowtow to authority was, in my view, the reason he was denied tenure here. The NYT piece is nothing but innuendo and insinuation. Not a single substantive critique of anything Craig has said or published. A hit piece, pure and simply. Pathetic.

  • 5. Peter Klein  |  29 December 2013 at 10:32 am

    Scott, I’m shocked, shocked the Times reporter didn’t call you for information on Craig’s background and character.

  • 6. Scott Masten  |  29 December 2013 at 10:37 am

    I know, I know. None of this is unexpected. It is, after all, The New York Times. It’s their specialty.

  • 7. David Hoopes  |  29 December 2013 at 12:22 pm

    P.S.: I highly recommend Craig’s “Streetwise Professor” blog. He has great comments on commodity markets, Russian political economy, and market regulation.

  • […] particularly conflicted, but just because they hold a position Kocieniewski doesn’t like. As Peter Klein acerbically puts it, “if you oppose the Times’s editorial position on regulation (or […]

  • 9. Streetwise Professor » Here Comes the Cavalry  |  30 December 2013 at 10:39 pm

    […] include Jeff Carter’s Points and Figures blog (who was the first to arrive on the scene), Peter Klein at Organizations and Markets, Sonic Charm (or is it Crimsonic?) at Rhymes With Cars and Girls (who always cracks me up, whatever […]

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