Less Wiggle Room

Will Wilkinson wishes that government officials were more constrained by rules, especially when it comes time to stimulate the economy:

What I’d really like to see is much greater reliance on automatic stabilizers that deploy quickly with adequate force and retract according to well-defined recovery benchmarks. How about monetary policy? Central banking is part of our de facto constitution. I’d like its role and governing rules be set into the actual constitution. Very roughly, something like: Every n years, Congress (drawing on the advice of experts, of course) sets an inflation or NGDP growth rate target. The Fed’s job is to hit the target. There should be experts in the Fed who know how to do this...

Now, this is not a world without a treasury secretaries, central bankers, regulators, or White House economic advisors. It’s a world in which the elite economists who generally fill these positions are more pinned in by the constitutional framework. This is, I think, a world in which economists in government face fewer conflicts of interest, because there is less they and their principals can do to make or break their friends and partners in business. And this is a world of greater political equality, where the unelected cream of a few top universities don’t have political pull so radically out of proportion with typical members of the democracy.