Perhaps it was too unconventional setting out an argument (against independent central banks, ICBs) that I did not agree with, even though I made it abundantly clear that was what I was doing. It was too much for one blogger, who reacted by deciding that I did agree with the argument, and sent a series of tweets that are best forgotten. But my reason for doing it was also clear enough from the final paragraph. The problem it addresses is real enough, and the problem appears to be linked to the creation of ICBs.
The deficit obsession that governments have shown since 2010 has helped produce a recovery that has been far too slow, even in the US. It would be nice if we could treat that obsession as some kind of aberration, never to be repeated, but unfortunately that looks way too optimistic. The Zero Lower Bound (ZLB) raises an acute problem for what I call the consensus assignment (leaving macroeconomic stabilisation to an independent, inflation targeting central bank), but add in austerity and you get major macroeconomic costs. ICBs appear to rule out the one policy (money financed fiscal expansion) that could combat both the ZLB and deficit obsession. I wanted to put that point as strongly as I could. Miles Kimball does something similar here, although without the fiscal policy perspective
Of course many macroeconomists do see the problem, but the solutions they propose are often just workarounds. Things like Quantitative Easing, or NGDP targets, or a higher inflation target.  None completely remove the basic difficulty created by the ZLB. (One proposal that does is negative interest rates coupled with eliminating paper money, which I will come back to.) As a result, these workarounds mean that in response to a sharp enough recession, we would still regret no longer having the possibility of undertaking a money financed fiscal stimulus.
I also think there is a grain of truth in the argument that ICBs created an environment where deficit obsession became easier. Take the UK for example. In the 2000s the organisation that came to dominate budget analysis was the IFS. They are excellent on both the microeconomics of particular budget measures and their costing. Before the Great Recession that meant that all the IFS needed was a macro forecast (of which there are many) and they had all they required to provide excellent budget analysis. The IFS did not have strong macro policy expertise, and sometimes this shows, but as long as the consensus assignment worked that did not matter.
One of the those working at the IFS during this Labour government period was Rupert Harrison. In 2006 he became chief of staff to George Osborne. He helped introduce, perhaps reflecting his IFS experience, two important and positive policy innovations: setting up the OBR (with some minor assistance from a certain UK academic), and a form of fiscal rule (a five year deficit target) which allowed debt to be a shock absorber. But he also appeared to bring the received wisdom on the consensus assignment untroubled by the ZLB, which meant that Osborne could give a speech in 2009 outlining the macroeconomic basis of his strategy in which the ZLB was not mentioned.
This is an example of a more general point, which Robert in comments reminded me I could have made to strengthen the strong argument still further. With ICBs, macroeconomic expertise can move from finance ministries to central banks, leaving finance ministries unprepared for what they may need to do in a major recession.
But this grain of truth runs up against a real difficulty, which is the major flaw in the ‘strong argument’ I set out in the earlier post. To see the flaw ask the following question: in the absence of ICBs, would our deficit obsessed governments actually have undertaken a money financed fiscal stimulus? To answer that you have to ask why they are deficit obsessed. If it is out of ignorance (my Swabian syndrome), then another piece of macro nonsense that ranks alongside deficit obsession is the evil of printing money in any circumstances. I suspect a patient suffering Swabian syndrome would also be subject to this fallacy. If the reason is strategic (the desire for a smaller state) the answer is obviously no. We would simply be told it could not be done because it would open the inflation floodgates.
Following my grain of truth idea you might counter that without ICBs the knowledge within or outside government that these excuses were without foundation would be greater, and so governments could not get away with them so easily. But you would still have plenty of economists from the financial sector telling you that not only did you need to reduce debt rapidly to appease the markets, but also that any government printing money would scare the markets even more. Indeed, would governments alone have had the courage to undertake the scale of QE that we have seen ICBs undertake?
As for the argument that macroeconomic expertise gets concentrated in central banks, surely the answer here is to allow that expertise into the public domain by making central banks more open, and to directly combat the forces that make some central bank leaders routinely argue for austerity when they can no longer effectively combat deflation.
The basic flaw with my strong argument against ICBs is that the ultimate problem (in terms of not ending recessions quickly) lies with governments. There would be no problem if governments could only wait until the recession was over (and interest rates were safely above the ZLB) before tackling their deficit, but the recession was not over in 2010. Given this failure by governments, it seems odd to then suggest that the solution to this problem is to give governments back some of the power they have lost. Or to put the same point another way, imagine the Republican Congress in charge of US monetary policy.
But if abolishing ICBs is not the answer to the very real problem I set out, does that mean we have to be satisfied with the workarounds? One possibility that a few economists like Miles Kimball have argued for is to effectively abolish paper money as we know it, so central banks can set negative interest rates. Another possibility is that the government (in its saner moments) gives ICBs the power to undertake helicopter money. Both are complete solutions to the ZLB problem rather than workarounds. Both can be accused of endangering the value of money. But note also that both proposals gain strength from the existence of ICBs: governments are highly unlikely to ever have the courage to set negative rates, and ICBs stop the flight times of helicopters being linked to elections.
 Please do not misunderstand what I mean by workarounds. The workaround may be still be useful in its own right (I have argued that monetary policy should be guided by the level of NGDP), but it does not completely remove the problem of the ZLB.