Krugman’s response to Alex

by on January 3, 2012 at 3:13 pm in Philosophy | Permalink

You’ll read it here, see also various (mostly weak) responses in the comments to Alex’s original post.  Most of you, including Krugman, are missing Alex’s point.  The issue is not that Krugman changed his mind (I’ve done that plenty, Alex too).  The issue is that Krugman a) regularly demonizes his opponents, including those who hold Krugman’s old positions, and b) doesn’t work very hard to produce the strongest possible case against his arguments.

Krugman’s response shows that he has changed his mind on debt, and explained why, but Heritage has not.  It’s an “I am better than they are” response.  That is beside the point, which is about elevating the views of others not oneself.  The need to show all the time that one is better or more right than the others is itself harmful to depth, and responding with “but I really am better than them” is just falling into the trap again.

Krugman calls himself a Humean but has he studied and internalized the lessons from Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion?  Is it easy to imagine the current Krugman writing rich multi-voiced dialogues which extend both his points and those of his intellectual opponents?  Can you imagine the current Krugman writing something sufficiently multi-faceted that you might come away thinking — because of the piece itself — that the opposing point of view was the better one?

Krugman has shown a remarkable and impressive capacity to reinvent himself, more than once.  He could reinvent himself again — in a truly Humean direction — and become the most important American public intellectual — and perhaps intellectual — of his time.  Or he could keep his current status as a sharp and brilliant someone who has an enormous number of followers but relatively little influence over actual events, and perhaps, like most of us, won’t be read much fifty years from now.

The reality is that neither the early nor the more recent Krugman is especially convincing on debt, and if anything the conjunction between the two shows that switching sides isn’t quite the same thing as changing your mind.  The odds are that government spending cuts are not literally budget balance destroyers on net.  How about writing a NYRB essay that lays out the short-run negative output gradient to austerity, presents why austerity is considered a serious option nonetheless, discusses catch-up and bounce back effects and their relevant time horizons, analyzes what kinds of policies are actually possible in a 17 (27) nation collective, engages with the best public choice arguments (including Buchanan and Wagner) on a serious level, ponders the merits and demerits of worst case thinking, and ruminates on the nature of leadership in a way which shows some tussling with Thucydides and Churchill?  Surely that is within Krugman’s capabilities and if it still comes out Keynesian or left-wing, great, at least someone will have seen those arguments through.  Such an essay would stand a far greater chance of influencing me, or other serious readers, or for that matter President Obama.  We should hold Krugman to the very high standard of actually expecting that he produce such work.  Not many others are capable of it.

There is a kind of hallelujah chorus for Krugman on some of the left-wing economics blogs.  The funny thing is, it’s hurting Krugman most of all.

Addendum: Here is a response from Krugman; note he has turned my description of “regularly demonize” to “always demonize.”

1 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 3:17 pm

I think he’s happier being the left’s answer to Ann Coulter, but from your mouth to his ears…

2 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm

Yeah good false equivalence

3 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm

Hey, Paul Krugman is almost as good as Ann Coulter.

4 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Man you better be careful, you’re really sliding down to my level

5 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 3:27 pm

You should really see his documentary, the one where he explains how his wife actually makes some of the really catty partisan points in his columns. He is not unaware of what he does, and I agree with Tyler that he is capable of more.

6 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Hmm – still doesn’t make him Ann Coulter. When he starts using overt racist, eliminationist and violent rhetoric you’ll have a stronger point.

7 Aneesh January 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Im not sure if Dave’s intent is to insult Krugman or to elevate Coulter. Although neither of these is a surprise.

8 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Please, Krugman considers opposition to Obamacare to be “eliminationist rhetoric.”

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704803604576077892006683586.html

Actually I think the comparison elevates Krugman. Ann is much funnier and at least as accurate.

9 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Hey TallDave,

As President of the Society of Hyperbolic Blog Commenters I’d like to welcome you as our newest member

10 Andrew' January 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Quiet Aneesh, this shit is gold.

11 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm

It’s an honor to be nominated, but I’m holding out to join Krugman at the Hyperbolic Bloggers’ Club.

12 Doug January 3, 2012 at 4:48 pm

What exactly is eliminationist rhetoric?

13 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 5:42 pm

I hate to play this game but, what is eliminationist rhetoric? Oh I don’t know something like this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wnPHFSdrME

http://crooksandliars.com/david-neiwert/eliminationism-parade-coulter-joe-pl

http://mediamatters.org/mmtv/200910150043

When Krugman starts discussing stuff like this in interviews I’ll give TallDave props.

14 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 6:18 pm
15 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm

Weak Sauce TallDave

16 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm

I agree, it was very weak sauce to claim Coulter saying “don’t shoot abortionists” is eliminationist rhetoric.

17 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 6:50 pm

No she said “Hey I don’t believe you should shoot abortionists but I don’t like to impose my personal beliefs on others” – you know Murder, a personal belief.

18 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 6:58 pm

Actually, what she said was that millions of babies are killed every year which some people believe is murder, while other people do not, and that similar logic applies to abortionists. Unlike Krugman, she didn’t actually endorse anyone committing violence.

19 Tom January 4, 2012 at 7:49 am

“– you know Murder, a personal belief.”

No, CBBB, I think it’s well established that it’s a CHOICE.

20 lemmy caution January 4, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Here is Bachman’s quote from TallDave’s link:

“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people–we the people–are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country.”

The “Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing” is a shout out to the “tree of liberty” quote:

http://wiki.monticello.org/mediawiki/index.php/The_tree_of_liberty…%28Quotation%29

“I do not know whether it is to yourself or Mr. Adams I am to give my thanks for the copy of the new constitution. I beg leave through you to place them where due. It will be yet three weeks before I shall receive them from America. There are very good articles in it: and very bad. I do not know which preponderate. What we have lately read in the history of Holland, in the chapter on the Stadtholder, would have sufficed to set me against a Chief magistrate eligible for a long duration, if I had ever been disposed towards one: and what we have always read of the elections of Polish kings should have forever excluded the idea of one continuable for life. Wonderful is the effect of impudent and persevering lying. The British ministry have so long hired their gazetteers to repeat and model into every form lies about our being in anarchy, that the world has at length believed them, the English nation has believed them, the ministers themselves have come to believe them, and what is more wonderful, we have believed them ourselves. Yet where does this anarchy exist? Where did it ever exist, except in the single instance of Massachusets? And can history produce an instance of a rebellion so honourably conducted? I say nothing of it’s motives. They were founded in ignorance, not wickedness. God forbid we should ever be 20. years without such a rebellion.[1] The people can not be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. We have had 13. states independant 11. years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century and a half for each state. What country ever existed a century and a half without a rebellion? And what country can preserve it’s liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure. Our Convention has been too much impressed by the insurrection of Massachusets: and in the spur of the moment they are setting up a kite to keep the hen yard in order. I hope in god this article will be rectified before the new constitution is accepted.” – Thomas Jefferson to William Stephens Smith, Paris, 13 Nov. 1787[2]

Sounds like eliminatist rhetoric to me.

21 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 12:20 pm

Well, I think we can all agree Thomas Jefferson was history’s greatest monster.

22 Thomas January 3, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Not nearly as funny. At least not intentionally.

23 Josh S January 4, 2012 at 9:38 pm

“Eliminationist rhetoric” is disagreeing with Democrats, especially if you use morbid humor (as Coulter frequently does) to make your point. “Reasonable discourse” is openly wishing for the deaths of Republicans and comparing them to Nazis.

24 Cliff January 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Good stealing someone else’s line!

25 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Thanks

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27 andrew January 4, 2012 at 4:52 pm

He’s better looking than Ann Coulter.

28 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:18 pm

What do you mean weak responses in the comments? I hope you’re not talking about mine.

29 Jeff January 3, 2012 at 3:20 pm

THANK YOU TYLER!!

30 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm

“Such an essay would stand a far greater chance of influencing me, or other serious readers, or for that matter President Obama”

What? What are you talking about? Unless that essay comes with a giant campaign donation cheque or offer of some important Chairmanship position after leaving office how will it possibly influence President Obama?

31 aaron January 3, 2012 at 3:43 pm

+100

32 Rob January 3, 2012 at 4:39 pm

x1000

33 Esbon January 3, 2012 at 7:25 pm

+1

34 The Original D January 3, 2012 at 8:20 pm

-1, for balance.

35 Scoop January 3, 2012 at 10:32 pm

It’s pretty unlikely that any idea about good policy, no matter how novel and well argued, would influence any successful politician. Successful politicians get to be so by making political calculations, not good policy calculations.

Hell, dreaming up dramatically better policies isn’t the problem, for either side. Huge improvements to many problems are blindingly obvious. But political calculations make it impossible to implement better policy. Brilliant thought on any topic other than eradicating the obstacles to good policy is sort of beside the point.

36 politicalfootball January 4, 2012 at 8:26 am

Professor Cowen’s objection is a process objection: He’s not primarily concerned with coming up with the right answer; he’s concerned about decorum. Heritage Foundation deserves a place among serious scholars because it pays proper attention to the niceties (and, of course, because it pays salaries). Krugman’s problem is he doesn’t have a budget to hire “scholars,” and he’s too often right.

And in certain crowds, that really does make Krugman less persuasive. Krugman would be a lot more persuasive in those circles had he not warned of a Japan-style liquidity trap, or if he didn’t continue to point out that we are in one now.

Put another way: What pundit has lost standing for being ludicrously wrong about WMD? What pundit gained standing for being right? Professor Cowen understands how the world of Serious People works; Krugman does too, but he chooses not to play. Good for him.

37 Scoop January 4, 2012 at 11:35 am

Your reply could not have been less relevant to my post had you talked about your favorite flavor of ice cream.

38 msgkings January 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

Are you sure about that, SCOOP?

39 Urso January 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm

tyft

40 Brock January 3, 2012 at 3:22 pm

And the race for “Most Left-handed Compliment of 2012” is off to a strong start…

41 Rahul January 3, 2012 at 3:49 pm

It’ll probably do wonders for MR’s google rankings too.

I’ll wager that this post gets to the list of ten most popular MR posts of 2012. (Will we pass 200 comments I wonder? )

42 msgkings January 4, 2012 at 11:54 am

That was a safe bet. Now we’re at 300+, what’s the record number here?

43 Rahul January 4, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Don’t think I’ve ever seen a 400.

44 aaron January 4, 2012 at 6:48 pm

Not a record to be proud of. Maybe this post will keep us trash from wrecking real discussions.

45 Jeff January 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm

Or as was pointed out in an earlier blog post, one can’t really understand an issue without being able to credibly argue the opposing view, and very often Krugman cannot do so.

46 rich January 4, 2012 at 12:03 am

Unless the opposing view isn’t credible.

47 Steve M January 4, 2012 at 4:37 am

This is never the case. ‘Nothing human is alien to me’

48 ScentOfViolets January 4, 2012 at 3:39 pm

I’ll take you up on that: Argue credibly that 1+1=-5.

49 aaron January 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm

That’s not a view.

50 Cleanthes January 5, 2012 at 11:58 pm

Fyodor Dostoevsky argues credibly in “Notes from the Underground” that sometimes 2=2=5. Close enough?

51 ScentOfViolets January 6, 2012 at 1:01 am

Fyodor Dostoevsky argues credibly in “Notes from the Underground” that sometimes 2=2=5. Close enough?

I’m afraid that telling me that Dostoevsky argues credibly is not, in fact, showing me that he is credibly arguing for his views.

So, no, not close enough. Those italics were a big hint, btw.

52 Avedon January 4, 2012 at 9:49 am

The opposing view is that the best way to staunch the bleeding is to apply leeches. It’s false on its face, it doesn’t need to be argued either way.

53 Laserlight January 4, 2012 at 12:38 pm

If your assumption is that all of your political opponents are evil and/or stupid, then of course you don’t need to take your opponents’ arguments seriously. This saves a lot of effort and is very comfortable.
Of course that assumption is also false, but a lot of your political allies don’t really care about that. That applies for any value of “you”.

54 aaron January 4, 2012 at 6:55 pm

The opposing view is that radiation, possibly chemo, and therapy is better to treat cancer than donuts.

55 Paul January 4, 2012 at 4:36 pm

Well, firstly, he’s under no obligation to make his opponents’ arguments for them, and secondly, the fact that he doesn’t do so doesn’t show that he doesn’t understand their arguments. Of course, if you would like to demonstrate instances where Krugman misrepresents their arguments when he counters them, please do so. Or, if you would like to set out ‘the opposing view’ to Krugman’s, consider this an open invitation. Just don’t expect him to do your work for you. He argues, and if you don’t like what he’s saying, argue back, and we’ll see who’s more convincing.

56 Josh S January 4, 2012 at 9:41 pm

John Cochrane of U Chicago School of Business discusses how badly Krugman misunderstands and misrepresents opposing viewpoints:

http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/john.cochrane/research/papers/krugman_response.htm

You Krugbots really make this too easy.

57 Matt January 3, 2012 at 3:24 pm

I’m no Krugman super fan, but at least it’s pretty clear that he’s making both moral and empirical arguments. Libertarian (macro) economics is all about trying to conceal the fact that you’re making mathematical arguments based on fantasy to justify a moral point of view.

And in a particular defense of Krugman on the EU question, the pure austerity choice is a joke. You can ask for a debate of short term versus long term, but if “short term” is a couple decades of economic contraction (in the case of Greece at least), then that’s at best a dumb argument to insist on being explicated before you consider it a reasoned exposition.

58 Andrew' January 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm

That starts from the assumption that politicians woke up one morning and decided they didn’t enjoy spending other peoples’ money. I think there are a lot of people who don’t see austerity as a choice. At a certain point there is no money, even if you think you can just print it. Convince me that we are not at that point.

59 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm

No there is not a certain point when there is no money – money is purely imaginary – how could we be at the point where no more can be created?

60 Andrew' January 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Yes, CBBB, that is what I’m talking about.

61 (Not That) Bill O'Reilly January 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm

If money is purely imaginary, then it only exists insofar as everyone (or at least all relevant parties) are willing to agree not only that it exists, but on what constitutes it. Failing that, creating more money is impossible.

62 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:58 pm

But there’s no evidence that anyone is losing confidence in the US dollar. Frankly as long as the US government exists, accepts only dollars for tax payment purposes and can enforce tax payments then the US dollar won’t vanish. There’s no evidence of inflation or raising interest rates.

63 Bernard Guerrero January 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm

CBBB’s point is weak, insofar as it doesn’t take into account how crappy nearly everybody else (with a floating currency) looks. Uncle Sam is wearing the least dirty shirt.

64 JWatts January 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm

“Uncle Sam is wearing the least dirty shirt.”

No, not really. The Swiss franc is doing much better than the US dollar. Hmm, and Switzerland just passed an austerity budget package last year.

65 Serge Boucher January 4, 2012 at 3:22 am

A big part of why the Franc is doing so well is the Euro crisis. It’s not obvious that the austerity package has played much effect, and anyway the Franc is doing too well: besides the threat of deflation, a strongly-appreciating currency is not exactly a good thing in an export-oriented economy whose main trade partners are on the brink of recession.

66 Matthew C. January 4, 2012 at 9:52 am

CBBB apparently doesn’t think that a Thanksgiving dinner going up 13% y/o is “any evidence for inflation”.

What color is the sky in your world when there aren’t any clouds out at noon?

67 Dan Dostal January 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm

Mattew C. – That’s an oddly specific example. Food price inflation is a real thing in many countries, but Thanksgiving prices could be tied to a turkey disease, or the fact that food prices in non-turkey eating portions of the world have transformed turkey farms into chicken farms or some such. So no, it is not evidence for inflation, only evidence of changing markets. It could be inflation, or it could be some other factor.

68 aaron January 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Dan, your point is valid, but I’ve heard no news of supply shocks. And far more important are relative price changes which make the lower-middle and middle class buyers weaker since their wages are stagnant.

69 Theodore January 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Are negative medium-term real rates not convincing?

70 Andrew' January 3, 2012 at 4:05 pm

You mean like the ones Greece had two years ago? They aren’t convincing the credit rating agencies. Anyway, it’s not what I’m talking about. Krugman is mostly shadow-boxing with the short-term deficit stuff. Long-term budget problems become discounted at some point. It certainly wasn’t 2003. It may not be right now.

71 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Since Greece has tied itself to the Euro – I guess your point about the money supply being more limited is true. But this doesn’t apply to the United States at all.

72 Andrew' January 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm

“at all”?

Are you 100.0% sure about that?

73 Theodore January 3, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Greece had negative real note yields two years ago? I am skeptical. Meanwhile, our long-term yields are hovering around record lows. Yes, they can turn on a dime, but while we wait for that, the fact that people are offering to pay us in the medium term to hold their money for them indicates that we are not at the point where “there is no money”.

It boils down to whether one believes that the government can invest the money it borrows in ways sufficient to earn at least 0% over the medium term, at a time when there is little fear of crowding out.

74 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm

The Plank graph has a very, very steep curve.

MF Global was considered quite sound not very long ago.

75 Andrew' January 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm

No, they had vastly different rates that changed fast.

76 Andrew' January 3, 2012 at 4:39 pm

When is the last time our government did something that could really be characterized as investing?

77 Andrew' January 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm

And sorry to triple up, but what characterizes this age if not crowding out? The whole “best house in a bad neighborhood” concept is a variation on crowding out.

78 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm

I’m not sure about “crowding out” but Solyndra, BeaconPower, and LightSquared have blown a gaping hole in the notion that gov’t investment is going solve anything.

I mean, did you see those memos? They knew Solyndra was doomed and they gave them the money anyway.

It’s like they were part of some crazy conspiracy to deliberately prove Hayek right.

79 NAME REDACTED January 3, 2012 at 5:18 pm

“I mean, did you see those memos? They knew Solyndra was doomed and they gave them the money anyway.

It’s like they were part of some crazy conspiracy to deliberately prove Hayek right.”

Reality looks more and more like some terrible cross between a Heinlein story and Atlas Shrugged all the time. Its creepy.

80 Matt January 3, 2012 at 6:03 pm

I just want to note the totally un-self-aware delusions on display here. What do you call believing a model of the macroeconomy based on provably false, fantastical assumptions which makes predictions that have proven wrong empirically over and over again, including the current case of interest rates in the U.S., and continuing to believe it true because it supports policy actions you support morally/philosophically? I think you call that self-delusion. Or maybe just sad rationalization.

A couple failed investments in one piece of the stimulus is literally a joke of a response. Do we really want to go back to Bush 43, or Bush 41, or God himself (Reagan), and examine if there were ever questionable decisions made with government money under administrations with more acceptable economic policy beliefs?

81 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 6:42 pm

That’s an excellent criticism of statism, Matt.

The Solyndra thing is notable primarily because of the spirit in which it was enacted, there are countless more examples. Did you want more examples? How about Fannie and Freddie causing the financial meltdown in the name of social justice? Not enough? How about the $40B gift to the UAW, which has resulted in GM approaching the same inventory levels at which they went bankrupt? I could go on…

Also, you seem to be missing the point: of course there were similar problems under Reagan and the Bushes, it was still the government when the GOP was in charge! W in particulaar was terrible on this.

82 Claudia January 3, 2012 at 8:18 pm

To the government “grumps” on this thread…why don’t you DO something about it? If you are so good at picking investments than go on one of these micro loan sites and pick some winners who don’t have access to standard loans OR be an angel investor for a pathbreaking VC firm OR go to a local high school or community college and find the diamond-in-the-rough entrepreneur and be a mentor. If basic research (which is necessary and important) were fully funded from the private sector then we wouldn’t need such “big” budgets at the National Science Foundation and other agencies. If you cut government R&D now you will hurt the next generation of STEMs and other scientists the most. I am all for more efficiency in government…but I’d like to see more doers and fewer talkers.

83 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm

This is a bit like a North Korean saying “Hey, without that food the gov’t grows we’d all starve!” IBM actually used to have a huge campus devoted to basic research. Private industry stopped doing it about the same time gov’t started, by some strange coincidence.

But really I can accept gov’t funding basic research, since once one gov’t does it the others sort of have to follow, even if it does lead to nonsense like wasting tens of billions on climate “science.” It’s mostly the stuff besides roads and basic research that minarchists object to.

84 Claudia January 3, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Um really, North Korea, IBM, and cross-country race to the bottom in govt R&D? I hear Peter Theil has given out some of his own money in fellowships for the next generation. The US has smaller government in other areas relative to other countries. Change can happen but not if we don’t do something.

85 byomtov January 3, 2012 at 5:35 pm

Huh? Convince me that we are. Are you saying that our money is worthless or close? Gee, inflation and interest rates don’t seem to support that, but maybe you have something in mind.

86 derek January 3, 2012 at 8:51 pm

So why are rates so low? Do you believe that 4% on a 30 year bond will be worth anything in 30 years?

Right now there is capital destruction happening. European investments are liable to become worth 50 cents or 0 cents on the dollar, so investors are selling and buying the only liquid asset. That asset has negative returns. The capital destruction will go on for a while yet; Europe isn’t done and Japan is probably next, so the inflows into US Treasuries will continue.

Essentially the Treasury department is making the bet that there won’t be any return generating investments in the medium term.

Lehmann was paying 7 points 2 days before, 700 points one day then they were worth 20 cents the next. To suggest that the current interest rates are anything but an indication of decisions of the moment is to ignore reality.

87 Paul January 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm

Well, as far as the US goes, the fact that yields on US debt are at historic lows suggests that there is no shortage of money to be borrowed – people are, in real terms, ‘paying’ Uncle Sam to borrow their money.

The Euro situation is caused by the untenable economic situation several Eurozone countries are in, and again has nothing to do with there being ‘no money’ – there is money, but no one is lending it to these countries because of the fear that they will be unable to repay as long as they are shackled to the Euro, unable to compete with Germany, and forced to keep shrinking their economies thus making their debts harder to keep up with in coming years.

88 mark January 3, 2012 at 3:29 pm

I admire anyone who has the optimism to try to assist Paul Krugman comport himself in a civil manner. But I wonder if his incivility and unfounded intellectual arrogance are really “hurting” him most of all. Krugman is an essential part of the New York Times’s appeal to its subscriber base, many of whom agree with him before reading him. They turn to him because they know his column will reinforce their beliefs. The Times must love him for keeping subscribers hanging on. I suspect the paper compensates him well for doing just what you fault him for, both in dollars and in stroking his ego.

89 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Bah, I read Krugman all the time but I also hang around here and, except for some book reviews and food posts, I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with anything Tyler Cowen has posted.

90 Jeff January 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm

You are, of course, not representative of the average NYTimes reader.

91 Cliff January 3, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Considering that Cowen and Krugman agree on many things and that Cowen links approvingly to Krugman on numerous occasions, that seems unlikely.

92 Bernard Guerrero January 3, 2012 at 4:47 pm

Most media consumption is bias reinforcement. And if you’re contrarian enough and enter into the appropriate forum, 100% disagreement can feed that need, too. :^)

93 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I agree. Though foredoomed, nevertheless a noble effort.

94 Pat MacAuley January 4, 2012 at 12:52 am

@ Mark,
You make a good point that Krugman’s incivility and arrogance are good for the NYT’s bottom line. And in turn Krugman is benefitting financially and ego-wise. But as the #1 econ blogger he bears much of the responsibility for the relentless degradation of the level of discourse in the blogs. I’m even older than Krugman and I clearly remember when economic arguments used to be more polite and more fruitful.

95 kindness January 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

“as the #1 econ blogger he bears much of the responsibility for the relentless degradation of the level of discourse in the blogs.”

Really? You really think that? It seems both you and Tyler feel that in order to be a ‘serious’ journalist, or at least to be taken seriously one must project neutrality on positions that one might feel are completely wrong. I find this requirement dubious.

Let me use the current GOP presidential campaign as an example of why I feel this way. Romney, Newt, Perry and Sanitorum have all called out President Obama as being ‘against America’ or belonging to a group that would like to see America fail. Commonly this is called treasonous leanings & thoughts. I see no one in Republican circles suggesting that (almost) all their candidates are wrong to suggest President Obama is a traitor to America. Far from it it only seems to establish a line that it’s OK to call a sitting American President a traitor in the service of trying to elect his opponent.

Suggesting that any President treat such claims as plausible in order to be considered ‘serious’ and/or ‘civilized’ is ludicrous. Especially when no one is claiming the same need of the opposition or in Krugman’s case The heritage Foundation or Tyler Cowen for that matter.

96 Pat MacAuley January 4, 2012 at 12:41 pm

@Kindness
I was referring specifically to Krugman’s negative effects on the econ blogs, not to the national political discourse as a whole. As for Republicans insulting Obama, I completely agree that this is rude, inaccurate, and destructive to the county’s future. (I am not a Republican.)

Regarding your disdain for neutrality in journalism, I think opinions belong on the opinion page and serious journalists need to be as objective as humanly possible in the news sections. Krugman’s position in the editorial section gives him license to express opinions, but his incivility, especially on his blog, has been destructive to economics.

97 Laserlight January 4, 2012 at 12:50 pm

It’s not that you have to be neutral on a policy you feel are wrong, but bear in mind that reasonable, intelligent people support that policy. You should understand why they do, and articulate it, not just say “They’re evil and stupid! ” I’m not saying Krugman does that (I don’t read Krugman any more) but certainly some people do.

98 ScentOfViolets January 4, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Well, uh, no; in general, that’s not how the deliberative process works (I’m assuming you think the scientific method it the preferred mode of inquiry.)

What happens in general is that one person or group makes some sort of statement, say, tax cuts increase revenue. Then other people or groups are free to be as skeptical as they wish, ask about what sort of consequences and predictions follow from the initial assertion, what would be evidence that the original statement was wrong, etc. Just good scientific (and financial) practice. Note that their skepticism is not to be construed as an opposing viewpoint (which happens all too frequently – and frequently as a matter of deliberate policy). Try to pull that kind of stunt is like asking a financier for a cool billion to get your business started and then when he expresses skepticism towards your business model and financial planning, saying that he hasn’t presented any evidence that you’re wrong, so fork up.

If you try this one and succeed, let me know who it was you tapped, because I’d definitely like to get in on that sort of action :-)

99 mark January 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Thanks Pat. I share your preferences. But prescription ought not be description and I was just addressing what I suspect is an error as to description. I think the NYT has chosen to become the FoxNews of the left, because declining industries, like declining presidential candidates, wind up playing to their base.

100 Binky Behr January 4, 2012 at 2:57 am

There are some very delicate orchids in the economics business, apparently.

101 Pat MacAuley January 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm

@Binky Behr –
I also post on a science blog, and I’ve learned that scientists can be far more obnoxious and petty than economists. However, my objection to incivil blogs goes beyond my concern for “delicate orchids” — I think that rudeness damages the collegial give-and-take and lowers the productivity of the discourse. Psychologists would say that hostility stimulates fight-or-flight mechanisms in the brain that suppress more cerebral processes. On the blogs it leads to escalating hostility, hardening positions, and lower level of intellectual pursuit. This process spirals downward over time and is very destructive.

102 msgkings January 4, 2012 at 4:38 pm

This process is also known as ‘The CBBB Effect’

103 Andrew' January 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm

I hate waste more than anything.

Then again, go read the article on how dictatorships operate.

104 Crenellations January 3, 2012 at 5:02 pm

Andrew’: I hate waste more than anything

Now, now, enough with eliminationist rhetoric.

105 Popeye January 3, 2012 at 3:30 pm

The wrongest post in the history of the internet.

Is there some sort of follow-up post on this blog that says, “I don’t really know anything about economics, at least not anything important.” Either by the author, or the razor sharp wit in comment #2 who chimes in with “Egg-cellent post”?

But yeah, poor Krugman, he can’t compete with the major leaguers here.

106 DKN January 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

Ouch. I’d never read that one. Hindsight’s a ___.

But remember that pretty much everyone in the entire world didn’t expect contagion at that point. The market didn’t tank for over a year.

I’ve always been a bigger Krugman and Roubini fan on substance but I much prefer Tyler’s blogging temperament.

107 politicalfootball January 4, 2012 at 8:48 am

It’s not just hindsight, any more than the lack of WMD was a matter primarily of hindsight. Here’s Dean Baker in 2002. (It’s a pdf.)

If I were Krugman and/or Baker, I would have run out of patience by now, too.

108 Tpillai January 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm

This is a brilliant comment.

109 Cliff January 3, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Egg-cellent

110 Lasker January 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm

I agree that Krugman is frequently condescending and mean-spirited. Popeye’s link from AT calling Roubini a “credit snob” is similarly mean-spirited (and in retrospect dead wrong).

Usually when I read MR I assume I’m reading Tyler. I can tell it’s AT as soon as I see the aggression common in all other economics blogs.

For example, last week there was a post that started “GiveWell, by far the best charity evaluator working today.” Immediately you know you are reading AT, not Tyler. No need to explain why it’s better than CharityNavigator. Let’s just make this aggressive assertion and skate on by even if the assertion itself is not important to the content of the post.

Tyler is special, everyone else who blogs is not.

111 Mark January 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm

If that the was the wrongest, this was the second-wrongest.

http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2008/02/was-there-a-hou.html

Comon Alex, where’s your posts explaining how horribly wrong you are or still waiting for the facts to catch up?

112 Lasker January 3, 2012 at 4:41 pm

It’s not about being wrong. All these guys have been wrong and will continue to be wrong. If they actually had some predictive power they’d be trading stocks.

It’s about whether you a) acknowledge your mistakes and b) are a jerk to people. AT was a jerk in the first link (to Roubini), but not this one.

113 Popeye January 3, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Where does AT (or TC) acknowledge his rather glaring mistakes?

114 Cliff January 3, 2012 at 5:04 pm

New post request: mistakes over the last 10 years!

115 Popeye January 3, 2012 at 8:36 pm

It’s not just a matter of making a mistake, no one is perfect. It’s getting the biggest economic issue of our time 100% completely wrong, making zero adjustments to the ideology behind your mistakes, and then going around posing as a high-minded truth-seeker who actually cares about intellectual honesty.

116 Mark January 3, 2012 at 9:51 pm

Couldn’t have said it better myself Popeye.

I even recall there was a Credit Snobs II where AT mocked a commentator for his (completely accurate) comments.

117 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:10 am

Why do you say there have been zero adjustments? I really think that would be a good post.

118 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm

I wouldn’t worry, the Internet isn’t very important anyway. In fact, by 2005 or so, it had become clear that the Internet’s impact on the economy had been no greater than the fax machine’s.

119 JWatts January 3, 2012 at 5:40 pm

Yep, Krugman’s prediction from 1998.

120 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 8:00 pm

Well wait a minute – isn’t this sort of along the lines of Tyler’s Great Stagnation argument also?

121 Ken Rhodes January 3, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Regarding Krugman’s reply, you wrote “It’s an ‘I am better than they are’ response.” I don’t agree.

Rather, I think, it’s a “Good grief, their ideology prevents them from learning the lesson I learned, and if their ideology is allowed to hold sway in the Congress, then we’re in for a slide from bad to awful.”

I don’t think Krugman thinks of himself in competition for intellectual points. I think he is seriously fearful of the ideological blinders that make people memorize “Debt is bad, deficit is bad, tighten your belts,” while ignoring minor inconveniences like unemployment.

122 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 4:43 pm

What about the ideological blinders that make people memorize “Redistribution is good, gov’t spending is good, coerce your way to economic utopia” while ignoring the lessons of the last several decades?

123 tkehler January 3, 2012 at 10:25 pm

But but but … those aren’t blinders. They are the gospel of St. Karl (and I don’t mean Popper). Only the other side has blinders.

124 dongnl January 3, 2012 at 10:26 pm

Redistribution is good when inequality and poor rate rise sharply. Government spending is good when the economy is depressing. These are not ideology like those of the nut conservatives but truth proved time and again.

125 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Wealth inequality has actually been falling over time.

http://blog.american.com/2011/12/the-7-most-illuminating-economic-charts-of-2011/wealthinequality1/

Meanwhile gov’t spending has increased to levels not seen since the U.S. was preparing to fight a massive two-front world war against the Axis Powers, which has gotten us… well, here.

http://www.usgovernmentspending.com/us_20th_century_chart.html

126 dongnl January 4, 2012 at 12:39 am

First, your referenced chart showed only the top 1% and till only 2000. What about the other tops and more importantly how about this last decade ending with the biggest recession and most severed unemployment since ’29-’33?
Second, government spending ratio has increased, specifically because of this Lesser Depression and GDP stagnation, so what? To the Keynesian, government spending is a tool in a weak-aggregate demand economy, thus there’s no optimal spending ratio. Unlike the conservative zealots who yell for less government like a holy end itself regardless of what the economy circumstance is. Who are the crazies here? The answer is certainly not both.

127 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm

1) I don’t know, but feel free to share if you find out.

2) So, it doesn’t seem to be working very well. GDP is actually back to pre-recession levels, btw.

The problem with your argument is that we’ve been increasing spending for decades now. The Rahn curve suggests we have paid a price in economic growth for that. Furthermore, when exactly do proponents of such notions believe the time is going to be “right” for cutting spending? The recession has been over for some time, and you didn’t hear any of them calling for cuts during the boom times…

128 Binky Behr January 4, 2012 at 3:00 am

Can you sell straw men, like on Ebay or something? Because that’s quite a productive factory you’ve got there.

129 Paul January 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Sigh….there has indeed been a redistribution of income and wealth in the last several decades – towards the wealthy – since the end of the 1970’s. I guess there’s a lesson there for anybody who cares to look.

130 Paul January 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

Or who cares, period.

131 Gary Arndt January 3, 2012 at 3:35 pm

Krugman will reinvent himself…..the next time there is a Republican in the White House.

132 Bernard Guerrero January 3, 2012 at 4:50 pm

+1

133 Brittany January 3, 2012 at 3:39 pm

this post is an instant classic

134 Tom West January 3, 2012 at 3:45 pm

While Tyler makes an impassioned plea, for anyone who makes a some or all of their income as being a pundit, he’s really asking them to commit economic suicide.

The problem is that being measured and considerate may get you well-regarded, it doesn’t bring in a lot money directly. If your income depends on people giving money to you for speaking engagements or books or web-site donations, then you pretty much *must* appeal to those who have extremely strong opinions that are willing to pay money to have them confirmed. The mushy middle appreciates even-handedness, but they don’t write a lot of cheques.

You see this in politics all the time – it’s the fringe elements that donate extraordinary amounts of time and money and the politicians are constantly trying to bridge the gap between what they want to do and what those who are doing the real work to get them elected want them to do.

People like Tyler or Megan McArdle can afford to alienate their base constituency with more nuanced views because substantial amounts of their incomes do not depend on direct donation. For people who are public pundits like Krugman (whose financial supporters demand that he demonize the right) or depend on donations like Steve Sailer (whose financial supporters demand that he demonize blacks), that is not a viable option, even if their personal opinions may be somewhat more nuanced than what they publish.

(Or as I read somewhere long ago: “I’m not paying you to write what you thing, I’m paying you to write what *I* think.”)

135 Theodore January 3, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Is Paul Krugman really doing so much better (Nobel Prize aside) than David Brooks?

136 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Man that’s a great point. Tyler LOVES David Brooks – I mean enough said – David Brooks is literally a cranky old man who just wants the kids to get off his lawn and get their hair cut.

137 tkehler January 3, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Seriously, you should just go away. You call this an insight? You call this debate? You aren’t even amusing or entertaining. Okay, you are perversely entertaining, I suppose.

138 CBBB January 4, 2012 at 1:32 am

No, I call it The Truth.
Any way see you tomorrow on another thread.

139 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:53 pm

Although your point doesn’t make sense since Krugman and Cowen are both professors so neither of them make all their money from being a pundit. I really doubt Krugman is just writing what the NYT wants – I’m sure he has a lot of money and he doesn’t really strike me as a flashy, big-spender type. And Krugman was always rude – even back in his 1990s articles before he became a big celebrity, it’s just that back then he was saying things that more conservative/right-wing people liked a lot, but he was still rude and gruff.

140 Tom West January 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm

I believe Krugman does a fair number of speaking engagements for which he is well-renumerated (although I could be in error) and I’m not certain he’d keep the NYT column if he lost the support of the most vocal and rabid of his current supporters. While you are certainly correct that he doesn’t strike me as a big-spender, there are very few who are immune to the fact that one’s perceived self-value is often equated with the size of one’s paycheck.

It’s an unfortunate outcome of our need for nice, easy metrics to judge ourselves and others.

141 msgkings January 3, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Paul is also swimming in all those mountains of Hollywood ducats:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8ZHYhKV0Wo

142 Paul Johnson January 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Agree that being a party partisan pundit/polemicist and being a reasonable/see both sides of the argument/mainstream economist are fundamentally incompatible.The odd thing is that Krugman seems to vacillate between wanting to be both.

143 Binky Behr January 4, 2012 at 3:05 am

There may not be two sides. There may be a right side and a lot of wrong sides. I see a lot of religion here and not a lot of rational thought. This blog is blackly hilarious in that way.

144 msgkings January 3, 2012 at 6:52 pm

Very good post, Tom West.

145 byomtov January 3, 2012 at 6:55 pm

What are you talking about? Krugman is a professor at one of the world’s best universities. That’s a fairly well-paid job, in case you don’t know. I’d be surprised if his check from the NYT was even close to his Princeton paycheck.

And who are these mysterious “supporters” you’re talking about? He’s not running for office. There’s no secret conspiracy of Keynesians paying him to write what they want. Not even anything like Mercatus.

146 Tom West January 4, 2012 at 2:47 am

And who are these mysterious “supporters” you’re talking about?

Well, my politics tend towards the left (I guess extreme left by American standards), and I will say that Prof. Krugman is quite the hero to those who truly believe that the right is not just wrong about how their policies will turn out, but actively malignant in intent. I’ll note that it’s his politics and his prominence, not his economics, that gets that adulation, as he’s willing to say things that are strongly felt by many, but not countenanced by the mainstream Democrats.

There’s no secret conspiracy of Keynesians paying him to write what they want. Not even anything like Mercatus.

Agreed. But it’s not his economics that make him heavily favored by the left, it’s the fact that he unrelentingly attacks both the policies and the motives of the right, while being a prominent economist that makes him very popular. No conspiracy necessary – he plays a vital role on the left, and if he chose to stop playing that role by entertaining a more civil stance, he’d lose that popularity.

Honestly, I don’t know whether he truly believes that everyone on the right is evil or whether he holds a more nuanced view (although I’d guess the latter), but I will say, that if he were to change the tone of his public personae to something more civil and balanced, it would cost him many of his most ardent fans, and that would translate into a decrease of personal status and, soon after, a decrease of wealth. Mr. Krugman does have a well-paying job, so he’ll never starve (economic suicide was over-stating it), but there are *very* few humans who willingly turn their back on either wealth or status once they’ve had it for any given period of time.

(And yes, it would be different if these pundits found their public personae in huge opposition to their private beliefs – but that’s not what happens. It’s simply a steady pressure to emphasize the part of one’s beliefs that catches ardent supporters and push it a little further than they might feel personally justified.)

147 Claudia January 3, 2012 at 8:07 pm

Tom, “civil and balanced” doesn’t mean “mushy and pointless” … It’s just harder to make a convincing argument if a) you refuse to make personal attacks (easy since we are all imperfect); b) are not “preaching to the choir” (as in you attract people across the social and political spectrum; c) you use plain language rather talking down opponents with technical babble. (Like my mom teaching me not use of four letter words since it’s lazy.) I think a lot of Americans would appreciate a more civil tone in politics and society (see abysmal approval ratings of many of our public leaders and institutions). Just because we have settled in a bad equilibrium doesn’t mean we are doomed to stay here…though the transitions can be painful.

148 Tom West January 4, 2012 at 2:26 am

Claudia, you are quite right that “civil and balanced” doesn’t mean “mushy and pointless”. However, my point is that the people most willing to spend both their time and money are those who believe the other side is a real threat, being *evil* in either intent or more generously, in outcome. As such, being civil and balanced can count against you among those whose support is most likely to be felt, as any civility or balance can be seen as giving comfort to the “enemy”.

So, yes, more people appreciate a civil tone and a balanced view, but they’re probably not so excited enough about it to be willing to pay for those opinions by paying for speeches, sending donations, and buying books. A case were more readers doesn’t mean more money. (Of course, this is all generalization, I’m certain there are a few civil and balanced political pundits who can survive on direct support, although I can’t think of any right now.)

149 Aaron January 3, 2012 at 3:46 pm

What an embarrassing essay request. Thucydides and Churchill, really? This is why Krugman is able to say that he doesn’t lose much sleep over not reading many conservative blogs – instead of actually engaging with his arguments and trying to prove something interesting and relevant about the world, you’re demanding that he jump through endless series of hoops until he’s fulfilled some vague emotional standard. Why can’t you write this essay yourself? What’s stopping you from contributing to the debate over deficits and austerity?

I quite frankly don’t care if economists are jerks to each other, because it has nothing to do with the actual points of contention. Most people see posts like these (and by extension most op-eds/TV appearances) for what they are: cheerleading and status competition unmoored by facts. If you’re upset that nobody takes Heritage seriously, try actually defending their arguments instead of demanding that people write essays for you. Or is this supposed to be some kind of Hansonian “budget debates aren’t really about budget debates” meta-argument?

150 Cliff January 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm

Re-read the post, please.

151 lxm January 3, 2012 at 5:34 pm

Why? Aarron nails it.

152 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:13 am

No, it is gibberish. The post has everything to do with the “actual points of contention.” Tyler is not “requesting an essay”, he is saying that Krugman would be much more persuasive and offer a lot more if he was honest in assessing and addressing his critics.

153 Paul January 6, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Except that he fails to show where Krugman is dishonest. I think Tyler would be a lot more persuasive and offer a lot more to this discussion if he could show examples of Krugman being dishonest. A brusque dismissal of an argument is not necessarily dishonest. The fact that Krugman once believed the government was being fiscally irresponsible does not make his critiques of those who now accuse the government of being fiscally irresponsible dishonest or even inconsistent with his earlier position. Basically, Tyler needs to either try harder or give up.

154 SA January 3, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Good post.

155 Jan January 3, 2012 at 8:22 pm

Spot on.

156 Mark January 3, 2012 at 9:57 pm

+1

157 Naomi January 4, 2012 at 1:32 am

Aaron nails it.

158 Binky Behr January 4, 2012 at 3:08 am

Aaron wins the internets today. Krugman is meeeean is not an argument.

159 Nattering Nabob January 4, 2012 at 5:12 am

Thank you, Aaron. Tyler is essentially objecting to the existence of even one prominent and respected non-wingnut voice in the mainstream (non-comedy) media who refuses to kowtow to the attempts of right-wingers to work the refs by crying bias whenever anyone simply reports that 2+2=4. The point Tyler is obfuscating is that the appropriate strategy to deploy depends on what strategies others can be rationally expected to deploy. In the bizarro-World, where Democratic politicians are routinely describing anyone to the right of Dennis Kucinich as a fascist, Krugman’s tone would be unhelpful. Here on planet Earth, it’s a tonic.

160 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:14 am

If you think Krugman is reporting that 2+2=4, you know nothing about economics.

161 Claudia January 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Glad to see you’re up for some blogosphere introspection…

1) I am a proponent of more civility in public discussions, including blogs (ask Scott Sumner)…and yet I missed “Alex’s point” (as you described above) when I first read his post . (It’s true on careful re-reading I can see it.) Now why did I get hung up on the post and make weak comments? is that because I like Krugman’s rhetorical blogging style or is because the post was titled “Krugman v. Krugman” and started out looking like a Krugman smack down? (Sometimes my reading attention span wanes by the end of the post…especially if I think it’s going downhill.)

2) I appreciate this clarification of yesterday’s MR post…except why should Krugman listen to you? It’s his blog and his voice. I like that MR tends to be more neutral (at least on the surface). Of course that means you end up being a little “cagey” about your actual views to quote Sumner’s blog today. MR has a different style, which hinders/helps learning differently than Krugman’s style. Let a thousand flowers bloom.

3) As for your writing assignment…why don’t you write the paper or better yet team up with Krugman to write an ebook. Aren’t there some famous texts that are written as dialogues. Now that would be fun to read…especially if you keep it civil.

162 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 4:13 pm

1)Don’t worry – I usually don’t make it passed the post Title

2) MR is certainly NOT neutral it’s just that Tyler Cowen is more devious in presenting extreme views as cold, neutral analysis.

3) Let’s just settle it with pistols at 20 paces

163 Claudia January 3, 2012 at 4:30 pm

CBBB 2) No one is objective (I am not that naive). We all have our views about the world, but some people are more open (and civil) than others. Sure the choice of links and posts here have some purpose. (It’s called “Assorted Links” not “Random Links.”) But it can be tricky to deduce (contrarians are hard to read). So why bother? Just take what you enjoy/learn from and leave the rest. It appears to me that opinions change over time on MR just like on Krugman’s blog.

164 msgkings January 3, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Not CBBB’s. Nor TallDave’s. Nor I’d wager a majority of posters here.

It makes me wonder, we all hear the common trope about the internet and TV enhancing our polarization, that folks just go where they want to reinforce their unchanging world views.

Is it really so different now? Was there some time in the past when opposing viewpoints were more fluid, and amenable to change? Were liberals and conservatives more apt to hear out and understand the other side 20, 50, 100 years ago?

I kind of doubt it.

165 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 7:17 pm

Hey I have a lot of time on my hands, I have to make these comments

166 msgkings January 3, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Again with different definitions. I’m not sure that ‘have to’ means what you think it does.

167 Claudia January 3, 2012 at 8:28 pm

I certainly have access to and enjoy a much wider span of economics on the Internet than I did in grad school or my work. It’s not anyone’s fault but there is specialization…I have a certain skills set because of the economics world view and my ability. Some advice given to grad students (I believe from Mankiw) is if your an empiricist then read theory…if you are a theorist then read theory. The blogs let me read theory in bit sized pieces across a range of views. Not sure I could handle an entire lunch conversation without getting myself in trouble but blogs do nicely. I realize I am a bit odd…I spend my little free time posting here, but surely the democratization of info has to be a net positive eventually.

168 Laserlight January 4, 2012 at 12:57 pm

“Pistols for two, followed by coffee for one”.

169 bleh January 3, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Peeve: economist arguments regarding government spending center on abstract, rather than the specific… as though the quibbling differences of multipliers, N order effects and error terms on their models were more important than what government spending actually buys.

Fervent arguments for or against, arguments that apply equally to fixing proverbial broken windows, or building a new train line into manhattan… demolishing one sports stadium and raising another is the same as heating subsidies for the elderly…. money spent on a universal health care system is the same as money spent on medicare/medicaid/employer subsidy system.

170 Andy January 3, 2012 at 3:51 pm

It’s funny for Cowen write, “The need to show all the time that one is better or more right than the others is itself harmful to depth…” As Discover Your Inner Economist et al is a virtually an exercise in Cowen’s own fancies and slippery slope economic ideas. I rather read Freakonomics and skip Cowen’s stiff blowhard air.

171 GiT January 3, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I’m a little confused why Krugman’s hypothetical NYRB tour de force should “[engage] with the best public choice arguments (including Buchanan and Wagner) on a serious level … and [ruminate] on the nature of leadership in a way which shows some tussling with Thucydides and Churchill.”

The apparent canonization of public choice as *the* theory of political economy to engage with strikes me as ridiculous, not serious. There is this field, called political science, of which public choice is only a subset, after all. And one might find much of interest in that field other than the parochial favorites of the average GMU Economics faculty member.

172 Manoel Galdino January 4, 2012 at 9:25 pm

+1
I am a political scientist myself and always thought something along these lines.

173 Cliff January 3, 2012 at 3:56 pm

I am glad you wrote this, it articulates well something I was thinking about last night. My problem with Krugman is that he selectively picks his worst critics so that he can humiliate them in a smackdown post, instead of picking the best critiques and addressing them seriously. Or, he picks some small part of a good critique out of context to destroy, or he mischaracterizes a strong critique so that he can destroy it. He also seems to pick datasets deliberately to manipulate the appearance- arbitrary date cutoffs, axis choices, etc. If he was less focused on humiliating and insulting people, seemingly to feed his own ego, and more on getting out all the best arguments and data and presenting his fully thought-out views, he would be much more persuasive and tolerable to read and much more effective.

It’s very off-putting to read a Nobel-prize winner belittling professional economists for holding positions that he himself held a few years ago. Shouldn’t he be above that sort of thing given his sky-high status? Let’s try to figure out the truth, not score points.

174 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Who are his best critics?

175 Martin January 3, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Data.

176 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm

Such as?

177 Gareth January 3, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Scott Sumner.

178 Aaron January 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Re-read Krugman’s posts, please.

179 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 4:35 pm

I think he’s aware of all that, and is simply maximizing his readership.

180 JWatts January 3, 2012 at 5:44 pm

+1

181 aaron January 4, 2012 at 11:17 am

Krugman is the Master of Strawmen.

182 Manoel Galdino January 4, 2012 at 9:30 pm

If that’s the point of TC, than you said it better and more clearly (at least to me).
+1
In any case, there are people out there making silly arguments and someone has to counter them. Maybe we should save Krugman to spend time with the best arguments. But someone has to spend time with tha silly arguments. I guess Krugman saw that the bad arguments were winning, and so he saw no point in discussing good opposing views. A friend criticized exactly this about Dawkings. Nice arguments, but doesn’t address the silly arguments made by people who doesn’t believe in evolution.

183 Bill January 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm

Your response sounds as demonizing as the one you rail against.

Frankly, neither of your responses are demonizing, except when you say the other is demonizing, which is not the case.

What I think is more disturbing is how some economists, writing for a public and not for a professional economist audience, overste the argument in way they wouldn’t if they were writing for a professional journal.

184 Bill January 3, 2012 at 6:21 pm

By the way, guess which post uses the following words (Cowen or Krugman):

* “demonizes his opponents”
* “doesn’t work very hard to produce the strongest possible case against his arguments.”
* “It’s an “I am better than they are” response.”
* He has “The need to show all the time that one is better or more right than the others …”
* He responds with “but I really am better than them”
* “Can you imagine the current Krugman writing something sufficiently multi-faceted …”
* He has “shown a remarkable and impressive capacity to reinvent himself, more than once.” By the way same author says that he has changed his mind as well but didn’t call that reinventing himself when he referred to himself and a compatriot..
* “his current status as a sharp and brilliant someone who has an enormous number of followers but relatively little influence over actual events, and perhaps, like most of us, won’t be read much fifty years from now.”
* Calls the other person “left-wing”

I have to confess one thing: I started cutting and pasting, thinking I would find a few statements. I didn’t expect to find so much that I had to stop.

I didn’t expect this, which shows me how disappointed I am in the nature of the post or how much civility that I expected by one who claims there should be greater civility.

185 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:17 am

Most of those are not even remotely negative, and several are actively positive and I have no idea why you included them.

186 Zach January 3, 2012 at 3:59 pm

“Most of you, including Krugman, are missing Alex’s point.”

His point seems to be contingent on evidence, and the evidence Alex presents is lacking. He calls Krugman’s 2012 post a 180-degree turn from his 2003 post. It isn’t. 2003 Krugman is criticizing Heritage (as a stand-in for many) for flawed projections of the medium/long-term budget deficit, and warning that politicians will take the easy road when the deficits turn out to be larger than predicted until it’s too late and rates go through the roof. 2012 Krugman is criticizing Heritage for predicting that the current debt, plus that incurred from additional stimulus, given current economic conditions, will lead to hyperinflation any day now, and arguing that today’s debts are manageable if and only if they’re paired with long-term reform.

187 Aneesh January 3, 2012 at 4:04 pm

This. Its basic Keynesian thinking that running up deficits in expansions are bad, and that running up deficits in downturns are good. Disagree if you want, but don’t be dishonest and call it some sort of hypocrisy.

As far as comparing Alex Tyler and Paul . . I like this blog, but please, when discussing things like austerity, or Latvia, or Ireland, or unemployment, Krugman actually produces graphs and charts. His readers enjoy this because its something tangible. Alex and Tyler on the other hand, other than few econ papers, produce very little other than links to some newspaper links. And you two are wondering why he considers you idiots? You two can’t put together an honest effort to make an intellectual argument and then complain about meanness when you’re called out?

188 Bernard Guerrero January 3, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Err. The thing is, Krugman _is_ being hypocritical, because the economy wasn’t particularly muscular during the 2001-2003 period, and the structural weaknesses it had at the time (including a jobless recovery) are part and parcel of our current situation. In fact, they were papered over only by dint of the bubble that, ironically, Krugman elsewhere is on record cheerleading for. He worries when the overspending in response to weakness happens under the GOP, and worries that there isn’t enough overspending under Democratic administrations, and all the while managing to miss the real underlying issues.

189 Zach January 3, 2012 at 8:04 pm

Let’s agree for a moment that 2001-2003 is remotely comparable to 2008-2011. This is still not hypocritical because 2003 Krugman was criticizing the tax cuts because they were permanent (I know they had sunset provisions as required by the Byrd rule; that was unsurprisingly not a problem). Read the 2003 article that Alex linked. His whole criticism is about (1) the long-run effects of the Bush cuts without any spending reform and (2) the added, uncertain effects of the wars.

There’s also obviously a difference between supporting policies that initiated the bubble or helped it along and continue to support them in spite of loads of evidence that a catastrophic burst with huge economic ramifications is likely. Two weeks before Alex wrote the “Credit Snobs” post, Krugman wrote this: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/03/02/opinion/02krugman.html … there were people who thought growth in housing would end the 2000 recession and people who thought growth in housing would last forever.

190 Dan in Euroland January 3, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Its the pretty colors of the graphs that you find convincing isn’t it? You realize how contentious identifying causality and econometrics in general is, right?

Silly White/Heckman/Granger. All they needed were more charts!

191 Aneesh January 3, 2012 at 11:57 pm

No . . . its the data.

192 Thomas January 3, 2012 at 10:39 pm

I think one problem for your reading is that Krugman disavows it. If he says he made a mistake, why should we listen to you say he didn’t?

193 Zach January 4, 2012 at 12:26 am

The acknowledged 2003 mistake was predicting hyperinflation once folks realized that the US would not make reasonable long-term reforms to address the deficit (I don’t really see why he did since the 2003 piece clearly indicates that this isn’t something that’s going to happen tomorrow). He’s not walking back saying that long-term deficits are a problem and that it’s likely that the correct response will come too late… this is what he’s supposedly taken a 180-degree turn on as per Alex.

194 Aaron Aardvark January 3, 2012 at 4:06 pm

I think I finally understand what Bryan Caplan refers to as “preferences over beliefs.”

195 FYI January 3, 2012 at 4:12 pm

I don’t think the problem with Krugman is that he is rude… That is just a symptom. The problem is that he doesn’t care about economics anymore. Someone up there said that all economists are making moral statements (which is a favorite argument from the left) but there is such a thing as science. Krugman is not basing his analysis on numbers or theory anymore, and the 2003 credit statement is just one of many examples.

The truth is usually more simple and clear than what we’d like to think. My guess is that there was a combination of factors (lefty wife, Nobel prize, Bush election) that basically convinced Krugman to become a partisan operator. He probably has a steady income that allows him to go this route, even if damages his former fame. Economics is one of his tools to advance his ideology. There is no way to argue with that kind of person.

196 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm

Economics is not a science – the very assumptions of their models are moral judgements, most of their models do not model reality AS IS but as they think it should be. This is a larger discussion but the biggest hacks are the ones who claim economics is an impartial science.

197 FYI January 3, 2012 at 4:33 pm

If you believe that then Krugman is your man.

198 Tom West January 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I’m not certain that I’d say their assumptions are moral judgements. It’s just that people tend to assign moral judgement to their outcomes.

Economists can often provide useful insight as to, for example, what changes to make in order to improve growth. The trouble comes when improving growth is axiomatically considered good, regardless of the possible social outcomes of those recommended changes.

Because it’s hard to make an argument against growth per se, I think a lot of people use an alternative tactic, which is to deny that the models are accurate. And of course, in public discourse this is probably the correct way to fight against implementation of pro-growth changes. I also think we see the same thing in the drug war. Eliminating drug laws would very likely make drug use go up and it’s very hard to argue pro increased drug usage, regardless of the *massive* other benefits that cessation would reap, so we see people making counter-intuitive arguments that making drugs legal and more easily available would decrease usage.

I think the majority of economists tend towards pro-growth policies, but I think that’s a natural human outcome of assuming that because you’ve mastered the hammer, civilization’s goal should be smashing nails.

199 Andrew' January 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm

Economics as science would predict human behavior, and it could be a science if the models didn’t affect the behavior. That’s why we need lots of models.

200 Claudia January 3, 2012 at 8:47 pm

Economics today is a SOCIAL science…economic models differ on the drivers of behavior…not on morals (self interest can have a wide, neutral definition). Models are supposed to be an abstraction of reality…that is how you learn something. Complicated models with lots of arcane details about the real world are well suited for simulation exercises…if you will forecasting. But these models are difficult to solve and even more difficult to get intuition from. Models should be as simple as possible and still capture the behavior of interest. People make economics hard…diverse values (or preference) and expectations about the future and other person specific constraints. Economist take those as given and then start their work. Economists don’t generally tell people their values are wrong…we just want to know why they do what they do. Of course this is a very bottom up view of economics from an applied micro researcher who works in macro…it’s harder to see this in a lot of top down macro debates but it’s there.

201 Paul January 6, 2012 at 3:45 pm

‘Krugman is not basing his analysis on numbers or theory anymore, and the 2003 credit statement is just one of many examples. ‘

Well, no it isn’t actually. Do you have any actual examples?

202 sartke January 3, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Getting the sense that Tyler and Alex are willing to become Keynesians if Krugman just says “Hey u guys….do u want 2b my friend”

203 Cliff January 3, 2012 at 5:06 pm

Isn’t Tyler a (modern) Keynesian?

204 NAME REDACTED January 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Tyler /is/ a Keynesian.
Alex is a micro-economist.

205 Robert January 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm

Krugman has far more influence doing what he currently does then he would following Tyler’s advice. Yeah, he’s capable of producing beautiful NY Review of Books -style essays but you’re kidding yourself if you think they would get more than a couple thousand hits. It’s kind of like thinking Reihan Salam is more influential than Rush Limbaugh.

206 Bernard Guerrero January 3, 2012 at 5:17 pm

+0.5. The point of his columns aren’t influence per se, they are reinforcement of reader biases. In this they succeed admirably and produce a viable income stream. As you say, alt-Krugman would have a fraction of the traffic and so a vast increase in influence isn’t plausible.

207 JoooJoo January 3, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Krugman is a brilliant man who lets his wife write too much of his columns.

208 Thomas January 3, 2012 at 8:49 pm

What about his blog? Is that hers too? At some point he has to own what he puts his name on.

209 Crenellations January 4, 2012 at 12:34 pm

That’s what Ron Paul is selling, too.

210 JasonL January 3, 2012 at 4:45 pm

In general, TC seems willing to acknowledge the neo Keynesian best argument while providing further commentary to suggest that debt levels are in fact scary and unsustainable and there are a number of exogenous reasons why the baked in risk may not be appearing in the bond market yet. He is certainly arguing from a perspective. An aknowledged perspective.

In general, Krugman does not do this. He is an explicit advocate of the Donkey du jour in most cases and he spends most of his time asserting a position of orthodox consensus that he must defend at all costs against barbarian economics while finding himself frustrated that the number of barbarians seems at times great enough that it threatens his claim to be the representative of consensus. He is sufficiently commited to this fight that he comes across as an explicitly political agent in a large number of his pieces.

I think Tyler’s criticism is fair. I also think it applies to Alex, who at times has a penchant for Krugmanesque dismissive-snarkiness.

211 Tom January 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm

“He is an explicit advocate of the Donkey du jour in most cases”. Seriously? Have you not read his (repeated) criticisms of Obama on the size of the stimulus and healthcare policy, to name but two?

212 TomC January 4, 2012 at 9:15 am

OK, he’s wants to be MORE donkey than Donkey du jour, better?

213 mw January 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm

Tyler’s on clean-up crew today…always a messy job

214 ian January 3, 2012 at 5:37 pm

+1

215 Loving Magnus ver Magnussan January 3, 2012 at 5:05 pm

What a scolding and borderline concern troll post! How ridiculous and boring. Here’s some advice: Ignore what you perceive as Krugman’s incivility. His tone does not matter. The more you complain about his tone the more it signals that your substantive response is weak. Respond to his arguments in a straight forward fashion. Don’t argue by allusion, name dropping, or day-dreaming about how Krugman would write in your preferred version of reality. Such habits tell the reader that you want to change the subject. In the end, it does not matter if Krugman fails to abide by your criteria for a Humean, thinks that you and AT are malicious idiots, or is simply a jerk. You guys are not in this to be friends. Sheesh.

216 Cliff January 3, 2012 at 5:08 pm

This is absurd.

Also, the post is not merely about tone- it is about addressing substance instead of scoring points.

217 Loving Magnus ver Magnussan January 4, 2012 at 12:05 am

Where, pray tell, is Tyler’s substantive response? All I see is tut-tutting.

218 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:20 am

Substantive response to what? The post is about Krugman’s lack of substance.

219 Lasker January 3, 2012 at 5:19 pm

Let me make sure I understand you Magnus — if someone projects extreme confidence and makes fun of opponent’s arguments, then turn out to be wrong, then it’s exactly the same as if they had treated their opponents with respect?

220 Abe January 3, 2012 at 5:10 pm

I dislike Krugman and disagree with many of his views. But I don’t fault him for being a jerk. He’s just responding to the market incentives he faces as a liberal commentator. Any notion that he should be “nicer” or shouldn’t treat his opponent like a “mendacious idiot” is flawed because that’s not how you survive in social commentary.

Many people are confusing Krugman’s marketplace: Krugman is a political pundit who opines on economics. He happens to have reached that position through academic economics. His blogging activity is not aimed at broadening the field, enhancing our understanding of economics, or contributing to the academy. In short, he is no longer competing in that “academic” market place. So I don’t think its fair to ascribe the same gentlemanly standards we see in traditional academic discourse to someone who’s current aim is to attract a multitude of blog hits from a liberal readership.

221 Bernard Guerrero January 3, 2012 at 5:20 pm

+1. He is perfectly suited to his current market. Arguably, it even maximizes his “influence”, insofar as acting as something of an amplifier for reader/consumer biases still has an impact on how the reader sees herself.

222 Paul Johnson January 3, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Another +1. True, he’s not targeting an academic audience.

223 jpd January 3, 2012 at 5:33 pm

oh dear, i am just so concerned about Krugman hurting himself.
won’t someone please think of the krugman!

224 andrew January 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm

The hallelujah chorus had already chimed in

225 andrew January 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm

has

226 Bill H January 3, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I assume you have already seen this, but in case you haven’t, I thought it funny/ironic that this Krugman flip-flop thread came out at virtually the same time as The Economist piece (named after the MR blog I have to believe….) – http://www.economist.com/node/21542174

Well done.

227 Master of None January 3, 2012 at 5:50 pm

In other words, Demosthenes is useless without Locke.

He needs to invent his ideal intellectual opponent, because it currently does not exist; the funny thing is, given his existing status, he could probably pull off elevating a ghost into the height of the conservative commentariat just by railing against it/him/her in a column or two.

228 ian January 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Krugman’s peers are Heritage and the Center for American Progress and the like. Cheerleaders for one side or the other, as opposed to observers seeking in vain for something that resembles truth. The effort of the latter is valuable, no?

As many others have noted, Krugman wants to maximize influence first and probably money second. He seems to be doing a good job of both. While non-hyper political economists and all non-left wing policy people basically ignore him, the voting public does not. Tyler is wrong to suggest that Obama will be more likely to be influenced by an intellectually honest essay. He is no philosopher king. Or have we forgotten all the lessons of Public Choice?

229 Hugo Estrada January 3, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I am calling a foul here.

Alex’s entry wasn’t about how Krugman attacks his opponents. That was a second point that he made. Had that been the real topic, the title would have been: “Krugman the Grouch” or something like that. Instead the point of the entry was to show how Krugman disagreed with himself. Another tacit argument, one that has been made many times, is that he changed his mind because a Democratic president is in office. This whole argument falls apart since Krugman had already admitted publicly that he had made a mistake in 2003.

Although it is moving to see Tyler Cowen come out to the defense of a friend, Alex Tabarrok had already acknowledged his mistake, just as Krugman had acknowledged his. There was no need to defend Alex; he had already done a good job handling it himself.

230 jonm January 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm

Writing Tyler’s ideal piece giving full credit to the strongest arguments against his own would certainly be worth Krugman’s doing. As is dealing unceremoniously with weak arguments put out by influential groups like Heritage.

Writing a post to cool down the debate and change the conversation was worth Tyler or Alex’s doing. As would acknowledging Alex’s blame for his original snarky and mistaken post.

231 lxm January 3, 2012 at 5:54 pm

Wow. Such Krugman hate!

Yet the post is a request to Krugman to step up to the plate and become ” the most important American public intellectual — and perhaps intellectual — of his time”

I hope Krugman can do it. Hell, I hope TC can do it.

232 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 6:36 pm

These Krugman posts really bring out the worst of the Marginal Revolution Fox-News Republican Hack Commentary

233 Topper Harley January 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm

The Koch brothers pay more when we can drag Krugman down in the Google rankings. How else can oligarchical badgers hack the system?

234 The Anonymouse January 3, 2012 at 9:14 pm

Wow. Now that’s a blast of trippy cross-blog deja vu. :)

235 Paul Johnson January 3, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Boy, you’re one to talk about a blogger not making the strongest case against his own arguments. Exactly how is it that you disagree with Stockman? (September 2011).

236 Sebastian January 3, 2012 at 6:03 pm

Krugman is perfectly capable of presenting two sides of an argument when he actually thinks the other side has a point.
Krugman has been pretty open and clear about why he became more partisan: He became convinced through the Bush campaign and early Bush years that the other side isn’t actually engaging in honest arguments – they pretend they are arguing, when they’re in fact just lying. The WMD concoction leading up the Iraq war was the most obvious version of this, but there were plenty of other examples.
Krugman is much more nuanced and respectful talking e.g. about MMT, in his discussion with Larry Summers etc. So the real question would seem to be more about who Krugman should take seriously.

237 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 6:50 pm

The WMD concoction leading up the Iraq war was the most obvious version of this

This just proves how easily gulled Krugman’s chorus section is. Ask the Kurds if the WMD were “concocted,” or just reference the several dozen Democrats who asserted their existence, starting with Clinton. The real question is why anyone takes Krugman seriously.

238 Dave January 3, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Based on an answer like that, why would anyone take anything you say seriously?

239 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 7:52 pm

He’s in competition to replace me around here as most ridiculous commenter

240 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 7:55 pm

Because it’s based on the actual facts, and not imagined conspiracies.

241 Arun January 3, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Ask Senator Lincoln Chafee (R). He said he went to Langley and talked to CIA analysts and came to the conclusion that there were no WMDs. He voted against the Iraq War.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/03/13/lincoln-chafee-interview-_n_91444.html

242 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 7:59 pm

Which he says in… 2008. Very convenient.

Meanwhile, here’s about 50 statements from Democrats saying they believed Iraq had WMD.

http://www.snopes.com/politics/war/wmdquotes.asp

243 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 8:04 pm

NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT THE DEMOCRATS YOU PARTISAN HACK

244 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 8:16 pm

I assume that was addressed to Krugman.

245 Aneesh January 3, 2012 at 11:59 pm

COngratulations on getting 50 Democrats on board your stupidity train

246 Jimbo January 4, 2012 at 7:29 am

+1 to CBBB

247 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Actually, Clinton started the train. He was President before Bush, you know.

248 James Hare January 3, 2012 at 7:53 pm

The “smoking gun is a mushroom cloud” BS was what sold that war, not any concern for the Kurds. You prove Sebastian’s point by throwing out an obvious red herring. Who cares what “several dozen Democrats” say in the context of Krugman’s feelings about Republicans?

The WMDs are still north, east, south and west of Baghdad, right?

249 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 8:10 pm

I bring up the Kurds because WMD were actually used on them at Halabja, but the Kurds’ situation was one of many factors, including, yes, the very real and serious risk that Saddam would someday acquire nuclear weapons, which everyone still agrees he had not given up on.

As I said, he provides a perfect example of how gullible Krugman’s audience is.

The truth is no one knows exactly what happened to the WMD and theories abound. Some people think they were all destroyed in Desert Fox. Others think they’re still in the desert somewhere, and there’s some evidence they (like North Korea) may have sent some WMD into Syria, similar to how Saddam flew his Air Force to Iran in 1991 (we may find out for sure on that one soon, if Assad falls). We certainly did not have confidence in 2003 that he did not still have them, and his behavior toward the inspections ensured we could not.

But to call them “concocted” is just completely wrong.

250 Sebastian January 3, 2012 at 7:53 pm

right, because the case for attacking Iraq was based on the fact that Saddam had used chemical weapons against the Kurds 20 years ago.
And Krugman put a good chunk of his reputation on the line by accusing the Bush people of lying about WMDs – had those – or any credible evidence that Saddam was anywhere close to the bomb – been found after the war, his credibility would have taken an enormous hit. They weren’t.
The fact that Krugman was among the few people in the mainstream media willing to say these things in 2002/2003 is one of the reasons he has so many admirers. Even in the NYT he was a pretty lonely voice at the time.

251 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 8:15 pm

Oh, so the WMD weren’t “concocted” then? No, the case for war was based on Saddam’s refusal to cooperate with WMD inspections to show he had gotten rid of those WMD that he very clearly had at one point.

Are you really under the impression Krugman made those claims before the war? Although, I agree Krugman’s willingness to be a partisan hack is impressive.

252 Zach January 3, 2012 at 8:19 pm

It blows my mind that people still use, “but everyone knows Saddam has/wants WMD… even the French and Clintons say so!” The only rational case for suspecting Iraq to have any WMD (let alone anything that could threaten any American) was based solely on believing that the Bush administration was not lying. The best case that Iraq had nothing was that Hans Blix was regularly going before various foreign officials and saying, “The US gives me fresh intelligence. I get immediate access to anything in Iraq and have found nothing.” When the Bush administration went bananas about a remote control airplane used for agriculture, it was obvious that they had nothing. Powell revealed all sorts of highly sensitive intelligence in his UN talk that would’ve tipped our hat to Saddam in a major way if it were true… it’s not like Bush was keeping the best evidence secret.

253 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm

It blows my mind that even after an investigation found no evdence anyone at the CIA had been pressured into lying, there are still people deluded enough to believe the “Bush lied us into war!” meme rather than accept that they just made a mistake — a mistake apparently shared by the Clinton admin before them.

254 Popeye January 3, 2012 at 8:50 pm

If only there was some political ideology that would be lead its holders to be slightly skeptical of grand government projects! It’s really no big deal, some mistakes were made, it’s just a few trillion dollars of taxpayer money and people’s lives. And if there’s anyone to blame, it would be that great statist Paul Krugman and his dishonest hackery. I mean, think about it.

255 Zach January 3, 2012 at 9:44 pm

@TallDave — What did I say about people lying at the CIA? The CIA didn’t go on TV and say that Saddam certainly had operative relations with Al Qaeda, chem/bio weapons and an active nuclear weapons program. Various political appointees did as well as the President. From Bush’s 2003 State of the Union: “Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.” This was clearly a lie, with three months of fruitless investigations with total access to every person and place in Iraq leaving plenty of doubt. Saddam called our bluff and gave inspectors carte blanche, fully cooperating with UN Res. 1441, so we sent in a couple hundred thousand additional troops to make war inevitable.

256 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 11:02 pm

The intelligence you claim was “lies” came from the CIA.

Among other things Saddam was funding Abu Sayyaf, an Al Qaeda affiliate operating in the Pacific — I know some Filipinos who are quite adamant that removing Saddam was the right thing to do for that reason alone. Stephen Hayes wrote an entire book on the Saddam Al Qaeda links.

The lying meme was propagated by several “brave” people, notably Joe Wilson, whose entire account was later investigated by Congress and found to have been wrong in virtually every relevant aspect, including the CIA’s conclusion that his trip bolstered the notion Saddam was in fact seeking uranium in Niger (alternate theory: he was opening a Nigerian bank account!) and most embarassingly Wilson could never actually seen the infamous Niger forgeries which he claimed he’d reported to Cheney. As Armitage told the media, Wilson had actually been sent by his wife to Niger, not Cheney as he claimed, and for some reason Plame’s negligent incompetence in allowing her husband to go on TV talking about the trip his “covert” wife sent him on (and then lied about sending him on) led to Scooter Libby being sent to prison rather then Plame herself. Ah, Washington.

257 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Oh, and if you really believe this happened — “Saddam called our bluff and gave inspectors carte blanche, fully cooperating with UN Res. 1441, ” — then you didn’t follow events in 2002 and 2003 very closely. No one claimed that was the case, most especially not the weapons inspectors themselves. It was the great mystery of the failure to find WMD — why had Saddam bluffed his way into a hangman’s noose?

Adding spice to all this was the fact Saddam was secretly massively bribing his way out of sanctions with Oil-For-Food (which only came out because of the invasion), which means it’s quite possible he would have reconstituted his WMD programs by now.

258 Zach January 4, 2012 at 12:14 am

1. Bush (and many others) said we were certain that Iraq possessed WMD.
2. Iraq did not possess WMD.

That is a lie. There was insufficient evidence to justify any claim of certainty, and Bush had access to all intelligence. I followed this very closely in 2002/3 and say the same things now that I did then… predicting that Iraq had no WMD and regularly being told I was crazy because even the French and Bill Clinton agree that he does. I thought it was obvious that Bush wouldn’t keep any damning intelligence secret, and there was insufficient intelligence presented to conclude that Iraq had WMDs.

Also, Joe Wilson is a blowhard, and I know some Iraq war vets who were in the invasion and claim to this day that we found WMD in Iraq but kept it on the DL. Anecdotes are irrelevant, and it’s not particularly credible that Iraq/Al-Qaeda collusion in Philippines just happened to be discovered a week or two before Shock and Awe.

259 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 12:28 pm

You’ve again confused “mistake” with “lie.”

260 Jeff January 4, 2012 at 8:01 am

The whole idea of WMDs was bogus. It conflated three very different kinds of weapons to justify intervening in Iraq.

Nuclear weapons are extremely dangerous and can kill millions of people at a time. You don’t even need much of a delivery system: a suitcase will do.

Chemical weapons are not much of a threat. When used in World War I, they not very effective. They don’t have much range, you can protect against them pretty easily (gas masks, etc), and their effectiveness depends a lot on the weather. Much the same is true of biological weapons, with the added problem that the virus or bacteria you deploy against your enemy is just as likely to attack you as well.

Of the three, nuclear weapons are the only so-called WMDs that might have been worth going to war with Iraq over. But there wasn’t much evidence that Saddam had them or was about to get them. And even if he had, it could have been argued that the fear of retaliation in kind would have been enough to keep him from using them. However, it was well known that he had already used chemical weapons, and pretending that chemical and nuclear weapons were much the same thing gave Bush the excuse he wanted to invade.

261 TomC January 4, 2012 at 9:30 am

Yes, buying yellowcake and equipment is not at all indicant of a nuke program.

262 The Original D January 4, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Disproven.

263 Jeff January 4, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Even if he were buying yellowcake, which is disputed, what makes you think he knew what to do with it? It’s not that easy to build an atom bomb. There just isn’t any credible evidence we’ve heard that Saddam was anywhere close to getting a nuclear weapon. If Bush actually had any, he would have presented it, rather than the bogus “WMD” argument that anyone with an IQ over room temperature should have seen through.

264 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:22 am

Weren’t the people lying Iraq defectors?

265 RN January 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm

“Such an essay would stand a far greater chance of influencing me, or other serious readers, or for that matter President Obama. ”

No one gives a fuck about influencing you. You’re a useless academic, sucking on the tenure teat, not doing a whit of good for society.

I doubt he expects to influence Obama either for that matter. Obama’s already shown he could care less about good economic advice.

Krugman wants to make argument the people can understand. The people are who matter in a democracy.

You don’t like him because of his tone and because he’s been right about nearly everything. And when he hasn’t he’s admitted as much.

You’re scared of him because he gets through.

And thank God for that. Because as he (as usual) so aptly puts it, “this is not a game.”

266 MD January 3, 2012 at 8:21 pm

What a bunch of self-righteous posturing…

267 anonymous... January 3, 2012 at 9:53 pm

You’re a useless academic, sucking on the tenure teat

Unlike Krugman, who makes an honest living solely as an op-ed columnist…

It would be unfair to blame Krugman for the excesses of his dittohead army, but when they imitate his caustic style with ten times the bile and none of the intellect, they lower the level of discourse everywhere they go. If only there was a poop-and-scoop law requiring him to come here and clean up the messes made by these attack poodles.

Krugman has painted himself into a corner: if he ever wrote in a more nuanced vein as Tyler suggests, this sort of person would just as readily turn on him too.

268 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 6:53 pm

Oh fuck now Krugman responded – here comes the New York Times brigade. I can’t do these threads – what’s the point of this Tyler? Enjoy the flood.

269 Kyle Michel Sullivan January 3, 2012 at 6:57 pm

I’d say Krugman’s convincing on debt because he’s been right and hacks like the Heritage Foundation have been wrong, lied, rearranged what they said and forgotten when they said the opposite. And what rule says you have to be nice to people who are out to damage this country? When someone who claims to know what he’s talking about makes an idiotic comment, like Alex, he deserves to be called on it. Tyler. Especially since Paul Krugman, at least, sources his reasons for thinking like he does. And so far he’s been right ten times more often than he’s been wrong…and when he’s wrong, he admits it rather than trying to cover it up.

270 rb486 January 3, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Tyler,

You might not have noticed, but Krugman already wrote the article that you requested he write:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/16/magazine/16Europe-t.html?pagewanted=all

You should check it out, it’s an interesting read.

271 bmoodie January 3, 2012 at 7:22 pm

No, it doesn’t “ruminate…on the nature of leadership in a way which shows some tussling with Thucydides and Churchill.” It’s not pompous enough to pass the Cowen test.

272 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Let’s see, Krugman tells us how great statism is, talks about the problems with the single currency… and then tells us (surprise!) that the answer is redistribution of wealth from the rich countries to the poor. As a bonus, he blames a “conservative” government in Greece for their problems. Nope, this is his usual hamhanded hackery.

How about a nod to the success of free markets, or the arguments that solvency is a better policy than default? Maybe he could employ another famous Tacitus quote regarding deregulation: “The more numerous the laws, the more corrupt the government.”

Just for fun, here’s an easy test of pragmatism vs rank ideology that Krugman will never pass: endorsing the voucher model used by Sweden, which is still quite firmly on the socialist side of things. I con confidently predict Krugman will never do this, because the teacher’s unions that own the U.S. Democratic Party are vehemently opposed to anything that smacks of being held accountable, and Krugman knows where his bread is buttered.

273 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Nothing leads to vast expansions of state power like long, unending wars which you seem to be an enthusiastic supporter of. I see nothing NOTHING in your commentary that leads me to believe you don’t like statism – you seem to love military and police power and armed authority.

274 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm

You mean long, unending wars like the one that just officially ended? The one that removed arguably the most brutal regime extant at the time and replaced the Stalinist state with a democracy?

First off, you’re confusing statism and authoritarianism. Second, I’m against not just the drug war, but the increasing prevalence of SWAT and militarization of armed forces, the inability of civilians to record public officials and LEO, red-light cameras, and etc

275 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 8:35 pm

Yeah ENDED – they just shift over to the next one – it’s just moving pieces between theaters in the big game. And it’s all connected – engaging in foreign wars allows the government to ramp up the power of domestic police forces in the name of “Homeland Security”. It’s about ensuring the population constantly feels threatened and wars like those in the Middle East are part of the package.

276 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm

I certainly agree on the domestic side of things.

277 byomtov January 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm

What odds will you give that Iraq is a democracy on, say, Jan. 1, 2015?

278 CBBB January 3, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Very Slim – it’ll just be some new dictator and the whole war will have been for nothing

279 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 11:08 pm

I remember being asked the same question about 2012 in 2007.

280 ben fenster January 3, 2012 at 7:16 pm

Tyler can sit on his lazy ass and act as if he is a neutral third party in this, but the fact is he isn’t. He’s a captured idealogue working in a department that allows the Koch brothers to determine its recruiting committee. Tyler demands a lot more of Krugman than of any other person on the face of the earth. Krugman provides the data and theory to back his claims. Tyler ignores the facts and wants him to be nice and respect the arguments of people who are fundamentally dishonest in the claims they make and clearly misrepresent the data to make these claims. Tyler, if you want to criticize Krugman, produce a coherent theory and the data to back your critique. Enough pretending to be the arbiter of taste.

281 bmoodie January 3, 2012 at 7:23 pm

Bravo!

282 RN January 3, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Bravo squared.

283 Chaitanya January 4, 2012 at 12:50 am

Bravo^infinity, bro…

284 RN-NO January 4, 2012 at 12:53 am

NYT-Krugamn fanbois Yo!

285 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 8:29 pm

people who are fundamentally dishonest in the claims they make and clearly misrepresent the data to make these claims

Hey! Leave Krugmman alone!

286 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:25 am

This is the problem with Krugman. He poisons the minds of his readers until they really believe what he (probably) does not: that all who disagree with him are evil liars and fools.

287 ben fenster January 4, 2012 at 11:49 am

Krugman’s data is clean and from highly regarded and widely used sources. There’s no slight of hand or hidden assumptions in what he does. If you want to see a truly fraudulent piece of work, look at the economic analysis done for the Ryan Plan. Krugman dissected it by getting down and looking at the numbers. Macroeconomic Advisors did it as well (hidden assumptions of 2.9 percent unemployment and housing booms which don’t arise due to changes in the interest rate). The economics in the Ryan Plan in my view typifies the type of fundamentally dishonest arguments made by right wing extremists such as yourself. You can sit here in your intellectually inbred group of sycophants or you can go out and look at the evidence and come up with coherent theories. Krugman has you guys beat hands down….he make you look silly. And that is the real reason you hate him so much. He is a brilliant economist who can actually write in a manner such that those lacking expertise can understand.

288 ben fenster January 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Tyler: Here is a response from Krugman; note he has turned my description of “regularly demonize” to “always demonize.”

Note that despite the fact that you have a prominent right-wing blog you have not made any substantive argument and have reverted to nitpicking rather than making any arguments of substance.

289 Thomas January 3, 2012 at 8:50 pm

That’s not nit picking, it’s pointing out yet another instance of the matter under discussion.

290 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:26 am

You think this blog is right-wing? If you knew anything about the blog, you would know that presenting the link as early as possible without major commentary is par for the course. He may follow up with a full length post if that would be interesting.

291 ben fenster January 4, 2012 at 11:57 am

Yes, the blog is right-wing. Tyler and Alex are members of an economics department that receives Koch brothers money and has allowed the Koch brothers to determine the composition of its recruiting committee.

292 RN January 3, 2012 at 7:37 pm

Tyler: “Here is a response from Krugman; note he has turned my description of “regularly demonize” to “always demonize.”

OMFG, THAT’S the best you can do? That’s all you have as a response?

You are beyond pathetic. You are vicious and useless.

293 anonymous... January 3, 2012 at 10:19 pm

Off your meds? That wasn’t a response at all. It was merely a courtesy link to Krugman’s latest, with a minor aside to quibble about a misquote.

294 RN-NO January 4, 2012 at 12:51 am

You are beyond pathetic. You are vicious and useless.

295 billyblog January 3, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Methinks Tyler Cowen is suffering a severe case of New York Times envy! To go with his obvious Krugman envy.

Krugman has the NYT platform – and has earned it. Oh, Tyler does get an occasional Op-Ed as well as cherry picked periodic shout outs from that economic ignoramus, David Brooks.

As to the challenge that Krugman write an article to Cowen’s spec in the NYRB, I would note the following:

1. Since 2003 Krugman has written six (count ’em 6) articles in the NYRB.

2. I assume that these were written at the NYRB Editor’s request, as are all the article contributions in the NYRB.

3. Last time I checked Cowen wasn’t the Editor of the NYRB. But if he thinks he – and policy makers – would be really enlightened by having Krugman write an article in the NYRB framed by Cowen, he should stop whining and make his case to Robert Silvers. Need his number, Tyler?

4. The data I have presented in 1-3 can be verified by anyone who makes the Herculean effort to go to http://www.nybooks.com and type “Krugman” into the search box. Apparently Cowen didn’t consider doing this laborious bit of research before he shot his mouth off in such a manner as to imply that the NYRB was terra verenda, let alone terra incognita, for Krugman.

Two additional points.

5. When you type in “Krugman” at ww.nybooks.com, you not only get references to Krugman’s six (6) articles since 2003, you also get contextualized quotes from other articles and letters which reference Krugman. While some of the references are professionally critical of Krugman, the vast majority are professionally laudatory. Which would surprise no one who regularly reads the NYRB and so is familiar with the dominant liberal intellectual space that the NYRB operates in. As Cowen appears not to. How else interpret his fatuous remark challenging Krugman to present his ideas in the NYRB, when Krugman has been doing it regularly lo all these years?

6. And, oh yes, when you put Tyler Cowen in that same search box, you get a grand total of two (2) hits.

One is from a November 6, 2003 article by Garry Wills, “The Negro President.” Here’s the contextualized text, with the hit word in capitals that the computer fastened on:

“… as the protector and extender of the slave system. That system ruled the South. It COWED and silenced the North. There was no large-scale political career open to the Southerners who refused to defend it.”

The other is in a March 26, 1998 article by Micahel Wood, “Revisiting Lolita.” Again, the contextualized text with the hit word capitalized.:

“… start to chase him, but he is oblivious. A roadblock looms ahead, he calmly turns off into a field of COWS, stops the car, leaves it, still ignoring the cops. He looks down at a town in the valley…”

Gee, Tyler, not only no articles authored by you in what you yourself apparently consider the prime real estate for a public intellectual, in addition, at least as far as the computer search is concerned, no one even saw fit to engage with your ideas either positively or negatively.

At least David Brooks gets mentioned in the NYRB from time to time. Derisively and dismissively most of the time, of course. But that’s presumably better than being confused for a member of the bovine species.

Other than that, your suggestion that Paul Krugman should write for the NYRB makes a lot of sense.

296 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 8:20 pm

You seem a little confused as to what Tyler was asking him to write.

“How about writing a NYRB essay that lays out the short-run negative output gradient to austerity, presents why austerity is considered a serious option nonetheless, discusses catch-up and bounce back effects and their relevant time horizons, analyzes what kinds of policies are actually possible in a 17 (27) nation collective, engages with the best public choice arguments (including Buchanan and Wagner) on a serious level, ponders the merits and demerits of worst case thinking, and ruminates on the nature of leadership in a way which shows some tussling with Thucydides and Churchill?”

But I agree Krugman’s relentless dishonest hackery has certainly earned him a NYT slot.

297 Popeye January 3, 2012 at 8:45 pm

Krugman earned his NYT slot by being a pro-globalization centrist in the late 1990s. (Yeah, I know, people who like to whine about dishonest hackery have an aversion to facts, but there you have it.)

298 TallDave January 3, 2012 at 11:10 pm

That earned him a shot. The fact-challenged hackery earned him a slot.

299 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 9:22 pm

Krugman isn’t a dogmatic statist?

300 AndYouThoughtLibertyWasForYOU January 3, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Who cares what his stance is. I like to think that it was Krugman’s non-dogmatic attitude that earned him his spot. A libertarian will never have that spot. They simply aren’t respected by real intellectuals – they’ve sold their soul to a blanket ideology.

301 billyblog January 5, 2012 at 3:29 am

TallDave and Cliff both missed a key point in my earlier post, and appear themselves to be abysmally ignorant of the NYRB.

You don’t submit articles to the NYRB which are then considered for publication. The NYRB solicits you to write the article. It is not an academic refereed journal. So if Cowen wants Krugman to write the article he has speced for the NYRB, he has to convince Robert Silvers, the Editor of the NYRB, to commission the article.

This being the case, it is jejune for Cowen to set up a premise challenging Krugman to do something over which Krugman has no direct control. The fact that Cowen did this suggests that he has little or no direct knowledge of the NYRB himself — certainly not its editorial policy — otherwise he would not have made such a fatuous suggestion.

Did he perhaps get his knowledge of the NYRB at a cocktail party?

In addition, the sort of article Cowen is suggesting, while it might be a valuable contribution to the literature, would have to be written in a form that would be much too wonkish for the NYRB, given even Krugman’s plain English writing skills. Again, an indication that Cowen knows not whereof he speaks when he suggests the NYRB as an appropriate place for his desired article.

Another point I made, and will repeat here, is that the closest Tyler Cowen has come to being in the pages of the NYRB, a journal which has been publishing since 1963 and which Cowen apparently esteems as the bees knees for the would be public intellectual, is that his name, in a search box, pulls up references to … cows.

So much, it would seem, for any pretensions Cowen himself might have to being considered a top tier public intellectual.

But I’m sure Tyler appreciates TallDave and Cliff sharing their ignorance of the NYRB with all of us.

302 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 12:31 pm

You’re grossly misrepresenting the level of editorial control NYRB exerts, but thanks for sharing your ignorance.

303 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:29 am

Yeah you are very confused. Obviously Tyler was not doubting that Krugman could write in the NYRB or “challenging him” to do so. It was the substance of the article that he was suggesting- the NYRB is just the logical place for it.

304 KenF January 3, 2012 at 8:02 pm

In the Treatise and the Enquiry, Hume heaps scorn and ridicule on his opponents. The Dialogues are special because he was writing on a topic where if he wrote honestly and directly about his true opinions, he’d be risking ruin for himself. He had to be delicate because of the sensibilities of the time. Even then, he only was willing to have it published posthumously.

305 snaildarter January 3, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Wow! WTG.

306 Thomas January 3, 2012 at 10:52 pm

That wasn’t my recollection, so I checked. Don’t take my word on it though, take it from the Introduction by Nidditch: “There is not much direct criticism of other philosophers in Hume’s books. Locke’s distinction of primary and secondary qualities, and Wollaston’s theory of ‘truth’ in morals, are directly handled by the Treatise; but whereas Hume’s contemporaries were much stronger in criticism of one another’s principles than in the establishment of their own, Hume’s writings are from the first distinguished by a great detachment from particular controversies.”

307 KenF January 4, 2012 at 12:26 am

Hume doesn’t call people out directly, but he is unrelenting and one-sided in his attacks and uses ridicule to great effect. In the Treatise, especially in Book 1, he is going after *everyone*. He attacks the idea substance, the infinite divisibility of space, the idea of a vacuum, common notions of self, what constitutes certain knowledge, etc. etc. etc. His radical take on causation is a direct assault on a whole host of current-at-the-time controversies.

The Enquiry famously ends this way, tell me this is a balanced approach:

When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and ill

308 kmiker January 4, 2012 at 4:52 am

Hear. Hear. That “Thucydides & Churchill” sniff was plain embarassing. Citing Hume as a model of philosophical civility and patty-cake makes as poor a case for one’s intellectual seriousness as proclaiming Russell and Keynes the moral beacons of Iowan caucus regulars.

309 Thomas January 4, 2012 at 11:41 am

If he doesn’t call people out directly, it’s hard to see how he heaps scorn and ridicule on them. He’s focused on ideas, not personalities. And he understands his opponents ideas, as shown in particular in the Dialogues (which is why Tyler cited that).

310 KenF January 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Sometimes it is clear who he is talking about, sometimes he is ridiculing whole classes of people (“philosophers” “metaphysicians” “scholastics”). He makes fun of Catholics too and Spinoza, since those were safe targets at the time…

311 billyblog January 5, 2012 at 3:52 am

Ken is absolutely right about this. Most modern scholarship on the Dialogues concurs with what he has said, and what he says below about the Humean corpus generally. I have not read Nidditch on Hume, but I can’t imagine a statement more clearly tone deaf than:

“Hume’s writings are from the first distinguished by a great detachment from particular controversies.”

In addition, though the Dialogues certainly have had different interpretations, there is a very convincing interpretation of the Dialogues which contends that Hume clearly presents both Demea (obviously) and Cleanthes (subtly and ironically) as intellectual fools, with Philo being the unambiguous philosophical hero of the dialogue.

This argument is based both on internal literary analysis and an historical understanding of the role of the dialogue in philosophical argument going back to Plato. Hume was very familiar with this tradition and was especially familiar with the way in which irony was one of the fundamental underpinnings of the dialogical form, not just with Plato — something even Tyler Cowen may have learned as an undergraduate, but appears to have forgotten — but especially with the nearer tradition of the dialogue that flourished in the Renaissance and the early modern period.

312 Thomas January 3, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Isn’t Krugman’s response just an indication that he thinks being influential (under Tyler’s definition) unlikely or impossible for him? If you can’t matter in that sense, why not be popular instead? At least it’ll be entertaining and pays the bills. So we get rhetoric about this stuff ‘mattering’ but every indication that he understands that intellectual arguments don’t usually matter. And so he won’t make them. He wants to be a politician and entertainer, like Glenn Beck. (Other examples come to mind as well.)

313 billyblog January 5, 2012 at 4:19 am

Well, no, Thomas.

On the recent academic and peer driven — not Time magazine or whatever — listing of the world’s most influential economists, Krugman was listed as no. 18. That’s out of 1536.

http://ideas.repec.org/top/top.person.all.html

Sure, no listing has a perfect methodology, not even a peer driven one. So nit-pick away. But no.18 is still not a bad level of clout for someone who Thomas characterizes as an entertainer.

By the way, John Cochrane is no. 142 in this same list, and if Cowen was in the top 200 I missed his listing. Glenn Beck also appeared to be missing from the list.

Do people like Thomas have any idea how doltish they appear?

314 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Actually, Krugman said exactly the same thing today. Feel doltish now?

315 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Exactly right Thomas, as Krugman himself puts it:

“Second, there are people writing about economic issues who are a lot less confrontational than I am; how often do you hear about them? This is not a game, and it is also not a dinner party; you have to be clear and forceful to get heard at all.”

316 Bill January 3, 2012 at 9:02 pm

What a trick in order to make it look like there are a lot of comments and increase web traffic, or make something appear HOT.

Of the 189 comments so far, they are from only 73 or fewer individuals.

Not to encourage competition, CBB holds the most comments at 26, and TallDave at 23, followed by 10 by Andrew.

317 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:32 am

Whose “trick” is it? CBBB is very vocally anti-this blog.

318 Bill January 4, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Whose trick: Tyler’s trick.

319 John Henry January 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm

FROM AMERICAN OXFORD DICT.

always
adverb
1 he’s always late: every time, each time, at all times, all the time, without fail, consistently, invariably, regularly, habitually, unfailingly. ANTONYMS never, seldom, sometimes.

320 Andrew January 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Good grief Tyler is such an idiot

321 Popeye January 3, 2012 at 9:07 pm

+1

322 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:32 am

-1

323 John Henry January 3, 2012 at 9:05 pm

^(The thesaurus, not dictionary section, obviously, on my Oxford American Dictionary app)

324 MIchael Foody January 3, 2012 at 9:17 pm

My big objection to this is that Heritage is a hack foundation who are given their conclusions and then work backwards from those conclusions to provide support for those conclusions. They are not particularly rigorous or ethical about doing this already largely value destroying work.

Krugman really does have problems with consistency and partisanship. But they are more like the ordinary problems of consistency that people face when they have influence. I think Mankiw suffered from the same disease and that is a better analogy.

It is frequently assumed that civility, nuance, and respect for the ideas of opponents is somehow particularly useful for being taken seriously. i would love to see this studied. I would guess that this is false, and is more an argument based on wish fulfillment than the forces that actually govern the world. The conservative movement has very successfully been driven, not by serious thinkers but by influential clowns. Krugman for all his capacity for serious thought or nuance casts a much smaller shadow than Rush Limbaugh.

325 Peter M January 3, 2012 at 9:24 pm

This is the comment I wrote on the NYT blog in response to Mr. Krugman’s latest reply:

I worked with lots of good economists when I was an antitrust lawyer at the Federal Trade Commission. In their discussions with me and others, the more respected ones always brought out both sides of any economic argument, and explained why they chose their ultimate position. They had to be very careful, because Fortune 500 companies tended to hire famous economists. And as lawyers we had to be ready to ask probing questions of the companies’ experts.

Further, the Commission required the lawyers to present both sides to an argument in our briefs to the commissioners, and to admit any weaknesses in our case.

Notice that I said the “more respected ones.” There were exceptions and everyone knew who the ideologues were. And guess what — their views were not as respected because they sang the same tune at every occasion.

I think this is a point for Mr. Krugman to consider. My wife, who also is an economist, notes that the strongest evidentiary statements before a court are those where the economist raises the contrary position and carefully rebuts it.

326 Paul January 4, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Perhaps you ought to consider the fact that Mr. Krugman is not an advisor to a government body, he is a columnist, paid to write convincingly about his opinions on matters economic, and his audience is the public, not government officials. Public commentators generally do not present ‘both sides’ evenhandedly.

327 maguro January 3, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Blog fights are so cute. It’s like it’s 2003 all over again.

328 James January 3, 2012 at 10:21 pm

I read Krugman regularly, first because he makes good arguments, and backs them up with real world data. He does not need to make the arguments of his opponents, though he always links to the analysis he is criticising, because those views are omnipresent from those he satirises as the Very Serious People, from my (UK) government, the spokesmen for the major financial institutions, and most of the Press and the BBC too. The purpose of most of his writing is to challenge that consensus, and to expose the shallowness of much of their analysis and the blinkered nature of much of the ideology underlying it. That his reputation as a Cassandra is well justified does not hurt either, and given the variety and regularity of his predictions, that you have to reach back to 2003 to get a bad one is quite a compliment.

Economics is an inexact science, and I am not even an economist, so I wouldn’t presume to make a judgement on who is correct, but one view offers hope, whereas the other only seems to offer almost endless vistas of hardship and decline, so I know which I’d like the world to try. That you wish he would put the opposing side of the argument more strongly is perhaps just a way of saying that it would be nice if he agreed with me more, to have his forensic skills, erudition and eloquence on my side of the argument.

Well tough.

329 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:34 am

Perhaps it seems to you that he makes good arguments backed by real world data because you never see the strong criticisms.

330 Paul January 4, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Such as?

331 Lee A. Arnold January 3, 2012 at 10:30 pm

I would like to read any argument as to “why austerity is considered a serious option nonetheless”.

332 kebko January 3, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Hmmm. Revealed preference.

333 jim January 3, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Stop by Coordination Problem where you can get links and discussion. For example: http://www.coordinationproblem.org/2011/12/john-papola-on-keynesian-economics-at-forbes.html

As one of the commentators there says, Papolo has a way with words (though his command of numbers and empirical methods seems a bit suspect).

For more serious discussion of the issues I believe you are better off with: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2011/wp11158.pdf
Also, though a bit brief for my tastes, presumably there is some information in these tweets: http://nourielroubiniblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/fiscal-stimulus-positive-multiplier.html

334 Lee A. Arnold January 4, 2012 at 12:04 am

Papola’s only real argument is the example of Estonia, which seems rather iffy. No doubt Estonians are happy to have mandatory social health insurance, though.

The IMF paper would conclude that austerity is not a serious option: “Our main finding that fiscal consolidation is contractionary holds up in cases where one would most expect fiscal consolidation to raise private domestic demand. In particular, even large spending-based fiscal retrenchments are contractionary, as are fiscal consolidations occurring in economies with a high perceived sovereign default risk.”

335 jim January 4, 2012 at 3:35 am

I agree with you and them: As stated in the IMF abstract “Using this new dataset, our estimates suggest fiscal consolidation has contractionary effects on private domestic demand and GDP. By contrast, estimates based on conventional measures of the fiscal policy stance used in the literature support the expansionary fiscal contractions hypothesis but appear to be biased toward overstating expansionary effects.”

What they are saying [in a calm civil way that bloggers here might applaud], is that arguments for “expansionary austerity” are not based on a good understanding of how to use empirical evidence to support causal claims.

336 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 6:57 pm

“Expansionary austerity” is a strawman term, the point of austerity is solvency not short-term growth. I don’t think a lot of people are really arguing against the notion spending cuts will tend to be contractionary in the short term (this would almost certainly be true in the GDP numbers, notice, even if it were not actually true, because of how GDP is measured — the eliminated marginal gov’t spending might be so wasteful that actual GDP went up even if measured GDP did not) though they might dispute the multiplier. Krugman looked rather foolish when Ireland posted anemic growth, which he argued was impossible.

In the long run, though, economic growth tends to be correlated with total gov’t spending in a range of GDP greater than 15% but less than 25%. Countries that cut their budgets into that range are probably better off in the long term, generall speaking.

337 nic January 3, 2012 at 11:13 pm

I think Tyler’s post would be much improved if he offered some examples of problematic Krugman posts.

338 BW January 3, 2012 at 11:18 pm

I’m flabbergasted that an economics professor could read Krugman’s 2006 article, his 2011 articles, and conclude that Krugman has changed his mind about debt. He’s never said that debt or deficits don’t matter; even in liquidity traps, he acknowledges that there balance sheet constraints on spending. After all, he has written that the stimulus should have been three times larger than it was — not 20 times or 100 times larger, you know?

His current position boils down to the following: the cheapest way to restore the economy to full capacity is through debt-fueled federal spending. Eventually, the economy will adjust its way there. Only that it might take a decade or two, and in the meantime, we will have lost tens or hundreds of trillions dollars worth of un-produced output, destruction of human capital, and economic suffering. It’s much cheaper to spend a couple of trillion dollars now to get the economy out of the liquidity trap; that money will be repaid plus much more if it works.

He’s fighting against the tendencies of the Very Serious People (as he calls them) to completely ignore this point, largely because they refuse to see past the issue of debt to appreciate that the alternatives are much more costly. That is, they see the avoidance of debt as so paramount in importance that they won’t consider alternatives. To Krugman, the reasons for this ideological blindless are several — some treat economics as a morality play, some are dishonest ideologues, some are hermetically sealed inside a freshwater cocoon, etc. etc. But what all of them have in common is the idea that debt is so important that we cannot risk taking on more of it. And Krugman believes that idea is nonsense.

Now, you can choose to agree or disagree with that theory, but whatever you think of it, it’s the same one that Krugman ascribed to in 1998, in 2003, in 2006, in 2009 and in 2011. His prediction in 2003 based on that theory turned out to be wrong, because he didn’t anticipate the credit bubble. But he identified it in 2006, and his proposed remedy was perfectly consistent with the idea that debt can be the least bad option in a recession. We weren’t in a recession. There’s no inconsistency at all. The fact that Krugman made an errant prediction in 2003 doesn’t mean he’s changed his underlying theoretical framework.

339 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:36 am

He specifically says he changed his mind

340 BW January 4, 2012 at 10:53 pm

Changed his mind as to the specific effects that deficit spending might have in a full-capacity economy. Never changed his underlying model or theory.

341 BW January 3, 2012 at 11:29 pm

As for the idea that he doesn’t produce the strongest arguments against his own, maybe you should consider his audience. Let me ask you a question. Why do you think that Krugman spends much more time writing about John Cochrane, John Paulson and John Taylor than, say, Scott Sumner? More about the WSJ and Heritage than about Marginal Revolution?

Do you think maybe it has to do with eyeballs and ear lobes? As in: Taylor, Cochrane, Paulson, WSJ and Heritage (either directly or indirectly through proxies) reach many times more people than Sumner and MR? Maybe because the former group has the ears of legislators and politicians, whereas the second group does not?

Krugman writes a blog aimed at the general public. Even his wonkish posts aren’t that wonkish — he disclaims them because some of his readers might find them boring, not because they are incomprehensible to a generally educated non-economist. The people who read Krugman are also reading the WSJ or watching Taylor or Niall Ferguson show up on cable news shows, and Krugman wants to counter those conservative viewpoints. Last I checked, the WSJ wasn’t exactly known for putting their opponents’ best foot forward.

342 will January 4, 2012 at 12:06 am

This is honestly the most childish thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe that I’d aspired to be an economist at some point in my life.

343 Thanatos Savehn January 4, 2012 at 12:29 am

So Krugman dispatched two straw men and his fawning readers immediately posted comments consisting of either fulsome praise or ad hominem attacks on Tyler (e.g. that he’s nothing but a hired shill for the Koch brothers). The depressing spectacle reminds one of the personality cult on display during the reign and funereal farce of Kim Jong-il – it’s a shock to the system to realize how many people not only can’t think for themselves but don’t want to think for themselves.

344 TheCrankyProfessor January 4, 2012 at 12:41 am

Oh dear. Hume on religion.

You do realize that there are people who think about religion a lot who have found Hume unsatisfactory?

Start with Peter Brown’s The Cult of the Saints: Its Rise and Function in Latin Christianity. Hume was SUCH a Protestant Briton of the 18th century that he didn’t understand “religion” in a particularly sophisticated way.

345 Fou du roi January 4, 2012 at 1:32 am

Is it the only one to regularly demonize ? I really thought demonization was a cultural mark.

346 sam January 4, 2012 at 3:42 am

Tyler,
grow some hair on your chest you bald headed nerd. There’s no substantial difference between regularly and always. Furthermore, what you ask of him you yourself have never done in such a thorough manner, ass.

347 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:37 am

Wrong on both counts.

348 sam January 5, 2012 at 8:07 am

Elaborate bitch.

349 Manolis January 4, 2012 at 5:19 am

I won’t focus on how Krugman is the quintessential modern-day apparatchik, or on whether his snide and arrogant posturing makes him likable or even bearable.

Instead, I just want to ask you guys what in frack’s sake makes him worthy of such attention and discussion (besides the above)?

This is one of the few public persona’s that are beyond wrong, they’re simply over-rated. A nothing that shouts like it’s something.

350 Gary January 4, 2012 at 6:49 am

I’m dumbfounded that the Libertarians are asking for civility and seriousness here. Somehow you’ve exported this philosophy around the world and it has created radio shows where libertarians call in doing their impressions of the intellectually handicapped expressing liberal views. Then when everyone is disgusted, they scream that political correctness has gone mad.

What has this got to do with the debate? About as much as Krugman’s Humean credentials have to do with Ricardian Equivalence.

351 TomC January 4, 2012 at 12:11 pm

“where libertarians call in doing their impressions of the intellectually handicapped expressing liberal views. ” Agreed, liberals sound intellectually handicapped enough without any help.

352 matal January 4, 2012 at 7:31 am

This seems like the right place to ask this question – can people recommend the best blog/op-ed/material to read that presents an economic view contrary to Krugman’s?

Please – solid economic arguments and presenting an alternate, consistent world view – not just an “anti Krugman” site.

I find Mankiw quite readable. Who else?

353 UnlearningEcon January 4, 2012 at 8:41 am

I guess Sumner although personally I think he’s living in la-la land.

As for Austrians, that ‘Krugman in Wonderland’ blog is awful and Bob Murphy isn’t much better. Maybe Jon Catalan?

http://www.economicthought.net/blog/

354 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Cafe Hayek is among the best, imho. They also produced the Keynes-Hayek videos which are very entertaining and reasonably substantive.

Arnold Kling is also very good. His book is a must-read on our health care situation.

355 UnlearningEcon January 7, 2012 at 11:48 am

Cafe Hayek: dear god no. That place is best summed up with this image:

http://i.imgur.com/7WYPi.png

And the Keynes-Hayek videos were pretty poor, along with the subsequent debates. Not the kind of thinking that should be put into the spotlight if we want to raise the standard of debate.

356 justawriter January 4, 2012 at 8:12 am

Tyler, you undercut your own response by noting that he changed “regularly” to “always” but not noting that you said Krugman has a need to he is better “all the time” within a few dozen words. You recharacterized your argument without even having to take a breath.
You may also want to examine the hypothesis that many pundits don’t find Krugman persuasive because it is in their economic interest not to. I believe the sociologist Samuel Clemens has published on this subject.

357 Manolis January 4, 2012 at 8:27 am
358 Lee Hirz January 4, 2012 at 8:31 am

I think Dr. Krugman is honestly searching for the truth while attempting to push policy in a direction that is best for everybody in the country, rich, poor, middle-class. I find the fact that his blog repeatedly and consistently directs his readers to the actual writings of his critics is a sign of that search. I don’t think he is going to convince many of the other side because (as he frequently proves) most have based their opinions on fictions and would suffer enormously from cognitive dissonance if they decided to see the truth. I loved reading all these comments. I especially find it humorous to read the comments of those that speak from almost pure ignorance of both history and the facts.

359 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:40 am

He does not direct his readers to the strong critiques, only the ones he thinks he can smack down.

360 Bill Johnson January 4, 2012 at 8:47 am

If we need not fear the debt, why tax the people? One would be much more popular lifting that oppressive burden from our shoulders.

Oh, you don’t think that will work? Why not, if there’s no problem with debt?

361 Paul January 4, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Could you explain your reasoning here?

362 JWE January 4, 2012 at 9:47 am

Now, this has been a depressing thread to read.

363 David January 4, 2012 at 10:41 am

So Krugman thinks it’s ok to be an arrogant jerk because he’s always right and he’s honest about always being right? I think there’s a t.v. show about this called House. Seriously, Krugman gives professors a bad name. I would be embarrassed to associate with him even if I agreed with him just because of his childish behavior. Tyler and Alex are much better ambassadors for the academic profession. They’re adults.

364 Eclectic Obsvr January 4, 2012 at 11:39 am

Tyler’s posting is pretty awful. Looks like a lot of muddled logic and asserting that Krugman is gulity of unjustified attacks by making unjustified attacks himself.

The problem with Economics is that the progressives look at data and models with a critical eye and conservative economists just go on faith that all Alfred Marshall needed was a little tweak here and there. And of course, that critique of mercantilist national policies means that all national governments will automatically make the wrong choices.

It is a position always looking for arguments in said favor.

365 Cliff January 4, 2012 at 11:41 am

Good point, everyone who agrees with you is a true scientist and everyone disagreeing with you is an evil liar.

366 Paul January 4, 2012 at 12:37 pm

You claim that Krugman “a) regularly demonizes his opponents, including those who hold Krugman’s old positions, and b) doesn’t work very hard to produce the strongest possible case against his arguments.”

In response to a), please note that accusing many (not all) opponents of making absurd claims/arguments or arguing in bad faith (or both) counts as demonization only if the accusations are, in fact, unfair. Are they?

In response to b), I wasn’t aware that it was Krugman’s responsibility to try to make convincing arguments against his own arguments, and I wonder if that’s a standard you’re prepared to hold everyone to (including yourself).

However, perhaps you are appealing to the philosophical concept of ‘charity’, which is that you ought to make the best possible interpretation of your opponent’s arguments before attacking them. But again this amounts to a complaint that he characterizes his opponants’ arguments unfairly, which again leads to the question, well, does he? Where are some examples of this unfairness? After all, ‘negative’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘unfair’.

367 Jim Harrison January 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm

Before there were many female columnists, pundits used to belong to a branch of the male prostitute’s union. What Cowen is complaining about in Krugman is essentially a breach of union rules. Krugman refuses to extend professional courtesy to the hired punks that infest the op/ed pages and economics departments of the nation. He’s a sociological freak, a guy who has a prestige academic position and (literally) golden credentials and therefore writes what he believes. The notion that he’s some sort of mercenary is the sheerest projection—the New York Times was obviously highly embarrassed when Krugman didn’t turn out to be the muttering professor they’d expected.

None of this has anything to do with Thucydides.

368 Brian Donohue January 4, 2012 at 4:03 pm

Eh, it was worth a shot. He’s very smart and erudite but he figured it all out a long time ago. Pity. I don’t think he really grokked the gushing praise implicit in your request. In retrospect, mebbe you want to take some of it back.

369 ScentOfViolets January 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Why do people like Cowen or Tabarrok or TallDave et. al. engage in Hobbesian antics and then expect to be treated ‘civilly’, as it is defined by their lights? If they think they’ve been treated disrespectfully, well, how do they think others view their extremely disrespectful behaviour?

Note how this works: you have to treat them civilly by their lights, but that courtesy is not reciprocated. Complain that they’re being egregiously disrespectful and this lot will say that no, that’s not so, according to their personal codes of conduct.

370 Pat January 4, 2012 at 7:15 pm

Really thought that link was going to a “nasty, brutish, and short” reference, SoV; I was pleasantly surprised to learn I was mistaken. Chucklesnort.

371 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 7:21 pm

Wow. You’re seriously unable to recognize the difference in civility between Cowen and Krugman? Please, point me to a column where Tyler characterizes the Obama admin as “crazy” or a “banana republic.”

Even Krugman understands he’s being unpleasant. Like Coulter, he’s not doing it by accident.

I’m not sure what to make of your link, but if you’re taking it as a disrespectful personal attack when people don’t acknowledge how obviously right you are… well, I guess that explains quite a bit, actually.

At any rate your own behavior was well hashed out at Megan’s as being notably unpleasant.

372 ScentOfViolets January 5, 2012 at 9:01 pm

You’re the guy (since you mentioned McMegan’s) that refused to acknowledge that the majority of people wanting to raise taxes on people making over a million dollars a year was a moderate position. IIRC, because “you didn’t want to give them the satisfaction.”

You’re also the guy who said that Saddam did so have WMD’s. And yes, refusing to admit that you’re wrong while at the same time claiming you just want to have a “good-faith discussion” is extremely uncivil. As alluded to in the strip..

But you’re nothing and no one cares what you think because you obviously don’t care what others think.; you do, however, serve admirably as a stalking horse for all those wights who claim that Krugman is being rude.

373 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Oh good, you’re going to share your various hallucinations about me! Since you also thought I was a conservative, this should be fun.

You can ask the Kurds whether Saddam had WMDs, they actually have pretty strong opinions on the subject, not to mention some melted faces. See, that’s a perfect example of how you don’t seem to understand that other people can have different opinions in good faith.

I assume you noticed when Megan switched to Disqus I started getting massive recommendations. Not that I’d claim it “makes me someone” but it’s always nice to see that others care what I think. I’m certainly obscure, and quite happy that way, but apparently not quite no one — on the Reason cruise (to my surprise) my blogging was actually recognized by some of the editors, not really that surprising I suppose since I was linked fairly regularly by Instapundit, who is probably the Internet’s best-known libertarian.

374 ScentOfViolets January 6, 2012 at 2:08 am

What part of “I don’t care what you think” don’t you understand?

You keep insisting that Saddam had WMD and you obviously have no intention of ever admitting you were wrong.

Your acknowledging that you were wrong being the (very generous) ground floor for considering you remotely credible or worth wasting my time on, that’s it. End of story.

Yes, I know. How :”Krugman” of me 😉

That’s all. You’re dismissed.

375 TallDave January 6, 2012 at 9:55 am

Saddam clearly did have WMD, this is simply a factual statement that is very well-documented. What no one is entirely sure of is what happened to them between 1991 and 2003. Theories abound; they may have been destroyed by Desert Fox or by the regime, Saddam may have moved them to Syria (as North Korea did) similar to how he moved his air force to Iran in 1991, they could be buried in Anbar somewhere. Certainly we did not find the expected stockpiles, but it is quite certain they did exist at one time.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WMD_conjecture_in_the_aftermath_of_the_2003_Iraq_War

But unlike you, I don’t immediately assume your statement is made in bad faith, even though I believe it to be very obviously factually incorrect. That’s why I, like Tyler and Alex, am a more reasonable and civil person than you and Krugman.

Have a nice day :)

376 aaron January 4, 2012 at 6:26 pm

Paul Krugman #MasterofStrawmen

377 Pat January 4, 2012 at 7:03 pm

“Krugman has shown a remarkable and impressive capacity to reinvent himself, more than once. He could reinvent himself again … and become the most important American public intellectual … of his time.”

Uhhh, yeah—he already is. Richard Dawkins might rate the conversation and probably was ahead a decade ago, and Chomsky will probably always get votes, but it’s Krugman, and by none too close a margin. I think what you actually mean is he could become the sort of public intellectual that conservatives could acknowledge without much gnashing of teeth. That, sadly, is never going to happen.

378 Jeffrey January 4, 2012 at 8:56 pm

Your Addendum, with its imprecise use of quotation marks, implies that Krugman misquoted you when, in fact, he paraphrased what you stated in your previous column. If you really feel the need to quibble over such a minor matter, I must wonder if you are engaging in a battle egos, more than anything else.

379 Sera January 5, 2012 at 1:09 am

Tyler Cowen defender of adversarial relations and competition in everything: “Can’t we all just get along?” Sorry, but by your own definition, that’s not my job, or yours either.
If you brought a knife to a gun fight that’s your problem. It’s just business, not science.

380 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 7:30 pm

Actually, I think the complaint is more that he’s bringing a bag of poop to a board meeting.

381 sam January 5, 2012 at 7:47 am

thanx for deleting my comment you fucking pussy

382 Auldblackjack January 5, 2012 at 11:19 am

“Krugman has shown a remarkable and impressive capacity to reinvent himself, more than once.  He could reinvent himself again…”

Julien Benda wrote a really great book called The Treason of Intellectuals and he said that we have a choice in life. We can serve privilege and power or we can serve justice and truth. And those of us who commit to serving justice and truth, the more we make concessions to those who serve privilege and power, the more we dilute the possibilities of justice and truth.

While I’m sure he’s flattered by the invite, Krugman has obviously gone with the justice and truth thing.

383 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 12:35 pm

Nope, he went for privilege and power.

Second, there are people writing about economic issues who are a lot less confrontational than I am; how often do you hear about them? This is not a game, and it is also not a dinner party; you have to be clear and forceful to get heard at all.

384 ScentOfViolets January 5, 2012 at 2:44 pm

Why don’t you practice some of that civility you think would be so good for Krugman? Or is that like so many other conservative nostrums – good for other people to take, but not something they’ll personally swallow themselves?

385 TallDave January 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Yes, how dare I uncivilly quote Krugman’s own words. For shame!

Also, I’m not a conservative, and you are well-known as one of the least civil people around the intertubes, so thanks for breaking my irony meter. Those.things aren’t free, you know.

386 Paul January 6, 2012 at 10:24 am

TallDave, would you mind explaining to us all HOW the statement you quote shows that Krugman ‘went for priviledge and power’? Inquiring minds need to know…

I would also point out that, as an ad hominem attack on Krugman’s integrity, this claim is somewhat ironic coming from someone who has been busily complaining that Krugman unfairly attacks the integrity of others – without, I would add, actually demonstrating that he has made unfair attacks of this kind. Saying that Krugman has treated some people’s statements with derision is not enough, you must show that he has actually misrepresented what those people said, and that you and Tyler have thus far failed to do…not that you have even tried very hard. How disappointing….

387 sam January 6, 2012 at 3:20 am

Tyler Cowen sucks Nobel Laureate cock. Worse than Krugman, and Krugman is a piece of shit.

388 Randy Mayeux January 7, 2012 at 9:09 pm

“regularly”
“Customary; usual; normal” – not too far from always…

389 Randy Mayeux January 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

“Regularly”
“Customary; usual; normal” – not too far from “always”

390 ottovbvs January 9, 2012 at 1:38 pm

You seem to be doing a bit of demonising yourself here yourself Tyler. As an occasional business reader of Krugman’s blog (and yours) I seldom see him resort to ad homs (although he does imply them occasionally) despite often blatantly inaccurate pieces of propagandizing by various conservative economists not to mention the politicians. I’m often surprised by his reticence but put it down to a sort of 11th commandment amongst academics. In this latest little hoo ha about Cochrane one of his critics ended up making an abject apology to him and Delong. And for the record Krugman IS one of the leading public intellectuals in the US. The Economist rated him one of the most influential economists in the US and as someone mentions above in a peer review he’s rated in the top 20 so by any measure he’s hardly invisible or lacking in credibility. I don’t agree with some of his political interpretations and doomsday scenarios but there’s no doubt his fundamental analysis of most economic issues is fairly close to the mark. Let’s face it he’s been far prescient than the school of thought with which you are generally associated and this tends to make him a target of a small crowd of either crank bloggers or some startlingly ill informed financial/economic journalists.

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