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I Wonder if Brad Will Accept My Offer to Wager

Prof. J. Bradford DeLong
Department of Economics

Dear Brad:

Happy 2011!

I write to you as one of your recent nominees (the others being my former student Mark Perry, and New York Times‘s science writer John Tierney) for “stupidest man alive.”  (I win this contest, by the way, because I’m certain that both Mark and John are a heckuva lot smarter than I am.)

Being stupid, I’m an easy financial mark for persons smarter than myself.  So here goes: let’s make a bet very much like the famous bet that Julian Simon and Paul Ehrlich made in September 1980.

Because of inflation, I propose that the wager be larger than the Simon-Ehrlich amount.  How about $2,500?  And I offer to you terms similar to those that Julian offered to Ehrlich.  Like Ehrlich, you can choose whichever bundle of five or more raw materials you like, and choose which (professionally respected) means to be employed for adjusting nominal prices for inflation.

The bet will be for a duration of at least ten years, but no longer than 15 years.  (You choose.)

If I win (fat chance, I know, given the pinto beans I have for brains) you will contribute 2,500 (tax-deductible!) U.S. dollars to the Department of Economics at George Mason University.  If – er, when – you win, I’ll mail you a check for $US 2,500.

Shall we wager?!


P.S.  I add here, for the record, that I agree fully with my colleague Alex Tabarrok’s assessment of the Simon-Ehrlich bet.  Still, I’m willing – as was Julian – to bet on real prices as a good-enough proxy for human well-being.


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