Via NBR and Agnitio (note behind paywall) I see that Don Brash has decided to attack Auckland Council Chief Economist Geoff Cooper. Usually I ignore economist fights – but when one economist has decided to act like an ideolog and attacks other people to hide it, while the other economist is consistently reporting facts, I have to take sides. Geoff Cooper is right in every sense of the word, and Don Brash is just being a class-A douche (to use the technical term).
To summarise what is going on in the article, Cooper reports that house prices have risen and that this appears to be driving a lift in consumption and house building activity – lifting measured activity in the region. This is a factual statement.
Don Brash turns around, says this is a bad thing, attacks Cooper, attacks the university Cooper studied at, and then rants about how a house bubble can have serious social and economic consequences. Obviously Brash hasn’t been reading our discussion here on how we need to think about the consequences and causes of a bubble carefully and with reference to banking regulation – and I would think a former central bank governor would know better than to make such loose statements.
In response Cooper merely points out that he is describing what is going on in the Auckland economy, not trying to argue about what is “right or wrong”. In other words, he is being an economist, and trying to inform debate as part of his job. How doing his job well reflects poorly on him, the council, or his university is a mystery to me.
He also managed to avoid calling Don Brash a confused and angry man who appears to have forgotten how to “think like an economist at all times” following his foray into politics. As I’m not encumbered by the same social constraints, and given my disgust at Brash’s comments, I feel more comfortable making these statements 😉
It is Brash’s own fault that he has confused something increasing measured GDP right now with something that is “good” – not Coopers. And if Brash has that much trouble reading economic reports without flushing his value judgments all over them and making unsubstantiated attacks on people, he needs to sit back and let his inner economist take over the running of the Brashmobile from now on (In case your confused – I like to add mobile to the end of surnames to represents someones mind and consciousness). Brash’s comments were not the comments of Brash the economist – they were opportunistic comments of Brash the ideolog.