“American Pie” – Altered to Lament My Life and Times as an Economist



A long, long time ago . . .

I can still remember,
Mainstream theory used to make me smile.
And I knew if I had my chance
That I could make equations dance
And, maybe, they’d be happy for a while.

But Joseph Stiglitz made me shiver
With every paper he’d deliver.
Bad news in the journals;
I flung them in the urinals.

I can’t remember if I sighed
When I heard the link to gold decried,
But something touched me deep inside
The day the dollar died.

So bye-bye, Miss American Pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die;
This’ll be the day that I die.”

Did you write the macro book,
And do you have faith in gobbledegook,
If professors say it’s true?
And do you believe in risk alone,
Does uncertainty chill you to the bone,
And can you teach investors what to do?

Well, I know that you’re in love with math
‘cause I saw you dancin’ down that path.
Your Hessions were well bordered,
And your preferences well ordered.

I’d been a lonely teenage undergrad
With a K&E slide rule and a yellow pad,
But I knew I had just been had
The day the dollar died.

I started singin’,
Bye-bye, Miss American Pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die;
This’ll be the day that I die.”

Well, since Nixon, we’ve been on our own,
And fiat grows on a rollin’ stone,
But that’s not how it used to be.
Till Bill Phillips sang for the president,
‘bout a curve that he had just invent-
ed to fine-tune where the gods thought we should be.

Oh, but while old Bill was looking down,
Uncle Milton stole his laurel crown.
The profession was confounded;
Friedman’s doctrines were propounded.
And while Lucas read a book on math,
The real world’s business took a bath,
We wrote the Phillips Curve’s epitaph,
The day the dollar died.

We were singin’,
Bye-bye, Miss American Pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die;
This’ll be the day that I die.”

Helter skelter in a summer swelter,
Inflation blew up our fallout shelter,
Eight, ten percent and risin’ still.
It led to strikes and social unrest,
For politicians it became such a test
That Paul Volker was brought in to close the till.

Now the half-time air was sweet perfume
While Reagan played a marching tune.
We all got up to dance,
Oh, but we never got the chance!
‘cause the lobbyists swarmed on the field;
The marching band was quick to yield.
Do you recall what was revealed
The day the dollar died?

We started singin’,
Bye-bye, Miss American Pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die;
This’ll be the day that I die.”

Oh, then we became confused and leery,
With no firm ground of econ theory
And bad ideas ‘bout what was wrong.
So come on: Fed be nimble, Fed show verve!
Maestro fooled with the bank reserves
‘cause fiat is the devil’s only song.

Oh, and as I watched him play that game
My hands were folded in professional shame.
No angel born in hell
Could break that satan’s spell.

And as the flames climbed high into the night
To light the sacrificial rite,
I saw Wall Street laughing with delight
The day the dollar died.

They were singin’,
Bye-bye, Miss American Pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die;
This’ll be the day that I die.”

I met a man who sang the blues
And I asked him for some happy news,
But he just smiled and said you’re toast.
I went down to the sacred store
Where I’d bought some Hayek years before,
But the man there said the Austrians were just ghosts.

And in the streets: the children screamed,
The lovers cried, and the poets dreamed.
But not a word was spoken;
The mainstream’s bells were broken.
And the three men needed in this flurry:
Ludwig, Fritz, and my old friend Murray,
Were laughed out of court by the mainstream jury
The day the dollar died.

And they were singin’,
Bye-bye, Miss American Pie.
Drove my chevy to the levee,
But the levee was dry.
Them good old boys were drinkin’ whiskey and rye
Singin’, “this’ll be the day that I die;
This’ll be the day that I die.”

-

(With my apologies to Don McLean)

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