Defending Des

I’m not sure what would motivate a person to launch a personal attack on the energetic polymath, Des Moore?  But Rory Robertson has taken to the letters page of the Australian Financial Review to make some bitter and nasty comments about Des’ contribution to the economic debate, undertaken over very many years.

Here are some snippets:

These days, deep in his sunset years, Moore’s lounge room enjoys the glorious title of “The Institute for Private Enterprise” and he’s reinvented himself as a world leader in writing letters to newspapers explaining that global warming is a giant hoax perpetrated in country after country by armies of eminent scientists who think they are so smart.

Let’s hope that Moore’s policy inflluence as a proflic post-nap letter writer remains as strong as it was decades ago in his retirement heyday as a know-it-all economist.

Needless to say, it is taking a considerable degree of restraint on my part to refrain from making personal comments about Robertson.

One of Robertson’s major gripes (and I am not sure why he would even care from where he sits – good one, Des, you are having an impact) is that Des is inclined to issue dire warnings.  In point of fact, it was Des, along with John Stone, who belled the cat on the rubbish that were the Club of Rome warnings.  Remember those, Rory?

And while Des may have exaggerated the problem of foreign debt in the 1980s and 1990s, he has proven correct in his warnings against excessive government spending and the build up of government debt. (He was hardly alone in worrying about the twin deficits; after all, the dollar had just been floated and this was new territory for economic managers.)

But let us examine the facts:

  • Approaching 80, Des’ curiosity and interest in issues show no sign of waning;
  • His output record is very impressive;
  • He has undertaken a great deal of commissioned work, including for state governments;
  • His range of interests is extremely wide.

Frankly, if I have anywhere near the same degree of fire in the belly and energy that Des Moore has at the same age, I will die a happy woman.

So back off, Rory, and pick on someone your own age.  Or alternatively, grow up and don’t pick on anyone.

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26 Responses to Defending Des

  1. JC

    Is that Rory Robertson from Macquarie bank? What’s his bee in his bonnet?

    Perhaps Rory can tell us how hard it is to get a government guarantee on a series of Bond issues Macquarie did during the GFC (last count $5 billion)

    They went out and bought distressed priced down junk assets underwritten by the long suffering Aussie taxpayer.

    Hey Rory, what was you bonus that year and did your feel any guilt?

    I don’t think Des ever had that sort of hand out in his career.

  2. Jackson Townley

    Well said Prof. There seems to be an increased incidence of ‘ad hom/ad fem’ attacks in public policy debates. Letters to the editor is a case in point (eg Rory Rob). But blog sites also are ‘to blame’, regretably including Catallaxy contributions. The challenge is to ‘take on’ those inappropriately attacking individuals without falling in to the trap of using similar ‘ad hom’ attacks.

  3. Paganini

    Wasn’t that a great piece in yesterday’s Australian by Henry Ergas taking Garnaut to task – now that was a great example of ripping someone apart without falling in to the trap of using ad hominem attacks.

  4. JC

    oops

    what was your bonus that year and did you feel any guilt?

  5. JC

    I don’t agree. Nice guys finish last and always have.

    Rory was putting down Des and poking fun at him like he was a crazy old uncle of some crap when Des is anything but.

    If someone like Rory uses a stick, you use an iron bar.

    As far as I know of Des’ career he’s never worked for or associated himself with a firm that was close to ending up on the mat like Bear and Lehman if the RBA hadn’t come in and supported them with liquidity.. Then to rub our f..king face in the dirt that same firm (Macquarie) shows its gratitude by abusing the privilege and issues approx $5 billion in long term bonds. It then buys a truck load of distressed debt and pockets a huge profit making them look like geniuses.

    I’m just wondering when Rory thanked the Australian taxpayer for not only helping keep his salaried job but also scoring a bonus on huge profit his firm made as a result. A profit that really belongs to the Aussie taxpayer.

  6. Samuel J

    While I don’t mind Rory, he did have the luxury of being able to change his forecasts every day.

  7. benson

    Are there any bank economists who aren’t completely useless?

  8. JC

    Are there any bank economists who aren’t completely useless?

    In a word no. Tits on male bulls are more useful

    Although this dude has always been pretty decent. I think he’s the best around.

    http://www.google.com.au/url?url=http://www.bloomberg.com/video/69343830/&rct=j&sa=X&tbm=vid&ei=puTpTeSVHITciALp84miAQ&ved=0CD0QuAIwAA&q=Credit+Suisse+US+chief+economist&usg=AFQjCNFOfIj6atcXBBHq9SKSKdOXvQZWrQ&cad=rja

  9. Ignatius Reilly

    he’s reinvented himself as a world leader in writing letters to newspapers explaining that global warming is a giant hoax perpetrated in country after country by armies of eminent scientists who think they are so smart

    If that be true, then go Rory! Anyone supporting crank science ought be driven out of respectable public discourse as a matter of principle.

  10. JC

    If that be true, then go Rory! Anyone supporting crank science ought be driven out of respectable public discourse as a matter of principle.

    Principle? You’re using that word, Metro. What was going through your mind when you were taking poor old Marg for a ride? Was that principled?

  11. “I’m not sure what would motivate a person to launch a personal attack on the energetic polymath, Des Moore?”

    Having the temerity to question the consensus on the existence and dangers of anthropogenic global warming. It makes normally-reasonable people go limbic and make ad-hom attacks.

    Quite amazing to watch!

    My first impression on reading the letter was that, on one count at least, Rory might have spoken too soon. I think he has mistaken the comfortable borrowing environment which has generally prevailed over the 30 years to 2008 for how things will always be. I suspect, given what happened in 2008, the unprecedented banking clusterf**ks that are emerging in Europe and China, and the ageing of developed world populations, that things are going to be uncomfortable for highly indebted nations like us in the near future. Des might be proven right after all.

    Thank God we can dig up Western Australia and Queensland and ship them overseas.

  12. C.L.

    Rory Robertson – never heard of him.

  13. C.L.

    Anyone supporting crank science ought be driven out of respectable public discourse as a matter of principle.

    Robyn [‘100 Metres’] Williams: So there you’ve got an image of the earth, the planet as a god, but also a very sophisticated and credible scientific idea.

    Tim Flannery: That’s right. I was tempted in the book to simply give in and call it Earth System Science, because Gaia is earth system science and in many university departments around the world, as you’ll know, Robyn, earth system science is a very respectable science. But as soon as you mention Gaia of course, the scepticism comes out. I didn’t do that though, because I think there’s a certain elegance to Gaia, to that word and the concept, and also because I think that within this century the concept of the strong Gaia will actually become physically manifest. I do think that the Gaia of the Ancient Greeks, where they believed the earth was effectively one whole and perfect living creature, that doesn’t exist yet, but it will exist in future. That’s why I wanted to keep that word.

    http://blogs.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/timblair/index.php/dailytelegraph/comments/gaia_is_risen/

  14. C.L.

    principle

    Good Lord. This is Iggy/Metro speaking – the man who lifted and re-sold copy from the New York Times before whistleblower Tim Blair shut him down.

    We should just call you Arfur:

    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/07/31/article-0-033E31DC0000044D-146_224x423.jpg

  15. dover_beach

    Iggy/ Metro is to journalism what Mr O’Reilly was to building.

  16. Tal

    Can we have a Weather free thread?

  17. DB, do you have a garden gnome handy? 🙂

  18. Ian

    Rory Robertson is with Westpac these days – left Mac Bank last Sept.

  19. Pingback: current accounts bear watching | ricardian ambivalence

  20. Myrddin Seren

    Ah ha

    Thanks Ian. Now it is clear.

    Rory is part of Gail’s “Hi Julia – watch me throw all your political opponents to the sharks. Remember this the next time someone in Treasury suggests ‘Bank Superprofits Tax’ ! Cheers boet – Gail”.

  21. hc

    Des has always enjoyed my respect for his views on labour market deregulation and microeconomic reform. We are obviously miles apart on climate change -I think his espousing what I see as anti-science is inappropriate for a man of his intellect. But when i had a vigorous debate with him at the Economic Society meetings a couple of years back he was a decent opponent and I enjoyed the debate. Got a lot of respect for Des – I just can’t work out his climate views.

  22. johno

    The other issue is why did the AFR Letters Editor deem such a nasty piece of work siutable for publication.

  23. .

    Got a lot of respect for Des – I just can’t work out his climate views.

    Maybe you’re wrong?

  24. Chris Joye has published the unedited defamatory version of Rory’s letter to the AFR.

    Someone should tell Des so he can cash this one in.

  25. Myrddin Seren

    I retract my suggestion above that Rory’s missive to the AFR was part of Gail’s Throw Everyone Else to the Tax Sharks plan.

    Ian’s link says Rory went on gardening leave in Sept 2010.

    NGD’s link says Rory’s letter was despatched from the self same cattle station.

    Nine months gardening leave is a lot of gardening leave. Is the Westpac gig off the table and therefore is Rory off the bank reservation, so to speak ?

    Sorry Gail – I’ll save the shark throwing for next time.

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