Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Ritholtz League

You know about fantasy football and fantasy Supreme Court.   Barry Ritholtz takes it to a whole new level:

Chris Whalen and Josh Rosner have suggested putting together a causes of the crisis debate (I sarcastically described it as flat earth loons versus a data driven analysis), but there is merit in that idea. 
On my squad I select Bill Black and Mike Konczal, with a research team of Yves Smith, David Min, William Cohan and Janet Tavakoli. I am sure there are more folks to add to this, but that’s the debate squad I would go with.
Great, but I shouldn't think it would be that hard to become up with a fascinating team for the flat earth loons opposing squad. You'd start off with Peter "the poor people did it" Wallison, whose argument about the role of Fanny/Freddy looks sillier the further he digs himself in. Batting cleanup you would want John Taylor, whose book on his years as a China hand assured us that President W was a thoughtful and involved leader, the master of his brief. You'd certainly want Glenn Hubbard, who sometimes seems to forget that he was ever in the Bush administration. Although beyond that, I'm a little shaky on exactly who would be the best choice. Not Tyler Cowen who for all his free market pretensions seems more interested in being surprising than he is an being an ideological partisan. One is tempted to say Greg Mankiw although he too (though in a different way) always seems a bit too coy about his support for his own (apparent) principles. I'm tempted to throw in a less obvious choice--Mark Perry of Carpe Diem who may not have the star power of the others, but who has a turkey buzzard's eye for the offbeat or inconvenient datum.

Somehow I can't seem to resist being snide about my choices. I guess I'll have to accept that insight as a fault, but I think maybe this is the point: like it or not, I'd have to concede that these guys are heavyweights. But I do think almost all of them have a maddening knack for smoothing off the corners, for making their own work easier for themselves than it should be. Which is perhaps precisely why it would be fun to watch them go toe to toe with people who call them to account, who can make them face up to the difficulties of their case. Of course, perhaps the same can be said for team Ritholtz but that's fine; it could only make the encounter more interesting.

Which brings me back to the likes of fantasy Supreme Court. Law professors from time to time have directed their students to prepare a draft opinion in imitation of one or another high court judge. Of course this version cuts close to the bone because if you pick a pending case you can get some bracing feedback if and when the real judge comes out with his real opinion.

Lacking that directness, I'm still kind of wishing I were teaching a seminar in The Crisis right now, so I could make my students run a mock version of Ritholtz' hot stove league.  

1 comment:

Ken Houghton said...

Ritholtz has a weak link (Cohan), so you have space for Cowen on your Not-So-Loyal Opposition Team. He's moving harder in that direction anyway.

I can find a Denialist Regulator to face off against Black--whoever is running or has run the OCC since the mid-1990s is an excellent choice.

But it's when you get to having to face Tavakoli that you have a problem. I can't find anyone in an executive position at ISDA or SIFMA who would be silly enough to throw down against her.

It's not coincident that your list is ideologues and/or economists, not people who make their living working in the markets.