Monday, March 16, 2015

WHOA! This is How LBJ Did Economics

In her new book, Signals: The Breakdown of the Social Contract and the Rise of Geopolitics, Philippa Malmgren tells the story about the time her father, an economic adviser to 4 presidents, visited LBJ:
My father was called to see President Lyndon Baines Johnson in the early 1960s. President Johnson greeted him and engaged in the usual "Relax, I'm just a regular guy" niceties that all Presidents perfect to help people sufficiently overcome their awe to be able to tell them what they need to know. The President than leaned forward and asked my father for his analysis of some international trade figures, My father proudly declared, "The number is X," having spent days preparing for the meeting and being very sure he was right. The President said, "Your numbers are wrong." Talk about a punch to the solar plexus. My father attempted to defend his data but the President interrupted him. "You're not hearing me. Your numbers are wrong." The President then explained why he could not negotiate the international trade deal the US the needed unless that particular number was different. Why would politics demand that the numbers be skewed in a particular direction? Power. Politicians and policymakers want power.


  1. Again, it's not who is in the postion, it's the fact the entire system is BS.

  2. Too bad it didn't go down a little different than that. While LBJ was trying to reduce the "awe", he should have replied "Relax, I'm not in awe of you" and regarding the numbers being wrong: "Well, then you print your numbers and I'll print mine. I'll be sure to mention the conversation we just had".