Is a 'Nobel Prize in Economics' Impressive Enough to Win Senate Confirmation?S

So hot-shot MIT economist Peter Diamond won a Nobel Prize in Economics today, remember? Good for him. Now can the single senator who's blocked Diamond's confirmation to the Federal Reserve board for months, over a lack of qualifications, maybe reconsider that?

Sen. Richard Shelby has been blocking Diamond's nomination for months, even forcing the White House to renominate him at one point. Why is he doing this? The Fed board is dangerously understaffed right now, with three vacancies. These confirmations are something that the Senate should fast-track to a vote! Shelby is probably just holding these nominees hostage in order to secure some earmark of his, because that's what he does.

At least in public, this has been Shelby's excuse:

"Professor Diamond is a skilled economist and certainly an expert on tax policy and on the Social Security system," Shelby said July 28. "However, I do not believe he's ready to be a member of the Federal Reserve Board. I do not believe that the current environment of uncertainty would benefit from monetary policy decisions made by board members who are learning on the job."

Okay wow. First of all, everyone on the Federal Reserve board learns on the job, because there's no Little League Federal Reserve farm system to train them beforehand. And historically, not every nominee to the Fed has been a specific monetary policy person. Doesn't mean they don't know it! And besides, what sort of things aside from "tax policy and the Social Security system" has Diamond poured much of his energy into over the years? Well, let's see what the Nobel Committee awarded him and two others their Nobel motherfuckin' Prize in economics for today:

The 2010 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science was awarded on Monday to Peter A. Diamond, Dale T. Mortensen and Christopher A Pissarides for their work on markets where buyers and sellers have difficulty finding each other, in particular in labor markets.

For decades, the researchers have studied what happens when a market is not made up of identical, cookie-cutter units — as is true with the job market, where all workers have different skills and weakness. In many cases, there are significant search costs to finding the ideal match between a buyer and a seller of a good, like the job to a job-seeker.

So this bright-eyed 70-year-old nincompoop hasn't focused his career on monetary policy research, just on fluffy "problems with the job market" stuff. Since when have there been any problems with the American job market?

[Peter Diamond image via AP]