Paul Krugman vs. the World?

I got a kick out of this, good graphics.

Let’s pick a rule for the comments on this post: you can only say nice things about people!

For the pointer I thank V.


I could game that rule, but I won't.

It'd be fun, though...

Something like: "Hey, at least Paul Krugman probably doesn't eat live puppies!"

Puppy smoothies? That's Glenn Reynolds you're thinking of.

Tyler, you look like you have jaundice.

Get better soon!

Not really much of a world, is it?

Yeah, seems pretty sheltered.

To Krugmanites there is but one God.

To be clear, I was simply implying they are almost all monotheists, nothing more.

The three people who seem nasty are all from Chicago and two of them are related. U of C may have been the "World" at some point in the past, but that is history. TC is quoted , but not nasty and SS is fine. Surely PK has many more "fans" than this.

What do you mean? Krugman could CRUSH the world between his bare hands.

That's Chuck Norris. I understand your confusion: the beards are similar.

Paul Krugman is basically Chuck Norris with Tenure.

He who loathes and despises Krugman may well be a decent chap.

I am sure the misguided, clearly-false economic assertions weren't meant to encourage governments to abandon their suffering citizens.

Nope, he's been advocating piling it on.

The mendacious idiots' ideas deserve credit for having been very influential.

The beard ratio seems higher in Economics than most fields. Always a plus.

paradoxically, the beard ratio is inversely proportional to the testosterone ratio, on account of the fact that in modern america most beard wearers are hiding weak jawlines.

*rules were made to be broken.

Adolph Hitler had a well-groomed mustache. Not a beard.

Just trying to be nice - apologies to Godwin.

Seriously, though, my grandmother used to admonish us, "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all." As hard as I've tried, that rule has been harder to obey, and failing at it has caused me more trouble, than anything else I can recall. Sigh.

Maybe there's another relevant standard: try not to be easily offended.

For some reason Tyler looked a lot different in my head. I don't know why. I definitely wasn't expecting the beard.

He kinda looks like the kinda guy you'd see in a Marlboro T shirt buying coffee from the Circle K at 6:30 in the morning and gassing up his Camaro. I'm not sure if this raises or lowers him in my esteem.

The yellow tint didn't exactly help...

every time I see a picture of him I'm surprised.

My sense (maybe I'll write a paper about it someday) is that beards are no more or less common in Economics than in broad academia, but that notable/famous Economists are disproportionately beard-y. You've got Tyler, Krugman, Stiglitz, Aumann, etc., but if you look at the pictures of tenured faculty at most top-10 places, the beards are maybe not so prevalent.

Another word for krugly is "notorious."

Bernanke too.

And Bryan Caplan. It's a signal, maybe...

Krugly means "round" in Russian.

He's pretty round everywhere else, too.

Look it's not ad hominem if it's based on facts. What can I tell you - why keep blaming Krugman for being right?

CBBB is a consistent troll! See I'm being nice! I'm even overpraising him.

This. More precisely, if you're denouncing a proponent of a theory on the basis of a prior argument that their theory sucks, it's not an ad hominem. It's only an ad hominem if you're denouncing the proponent's theory on purely on the basis of the claim that the proponent sucks.

(The referent of 'this' being CBBB's comment; not wiki's.)

CBBB--you are a complete moron. that's not ad hominem because it is true.

He's no moron. He either truly believes the crap he posts, or he's an expert troll.

Either way he's a world-class narcissist, and there are no other possibilities.

Facts = not ad hominem

Hey I agree - I don't believe in this Tyler Cowen Politeness fetish. Sometimes it's immoral to be polite.

That sounds like something Krugman likes to say.

Your ability to see the world in such stark black and white terms is impressive. You might be as smart as George W. Bush.

Brian, if you were as smart as George W. Bush you'd be living the life of a multi-millionaire, would have been President of the United States (twice), and not be spending a moment here on this odd little way-station on the internet.

That's a funny way to measure intelligence.

W didn't get there with his brain, he was in the lucky sperm club. But you know that...right?


That +1 was to vanderleun

I am convinced krug was correct once or twice; but, unlike a stopped clock, not in the same 24 hour time span.

Both Tyler and Paul have very fine beards. Probably not worthy enough to elicit an Andrew Sullivan nod, but still very fine.

Chicago School types have gotten very defensive the last few years as their theories based on their own reason, and approved by their own sycophants, have been crumbling in the face of reality. I like that Krugman is thick skinned enough to take them on. If you were a hedge fund manager and had to put your money where your mouth is, you would be significantly ahead if you've been listening to Krugman over the Chicago School crowd. Has anyone in world history blown more investor money than Myron Scholes?

It's true - at the end of the day Krugman has been WAY more right then these other guys. Wasn't Cochrane the guy blaming unemployment on the "Great Vacation"? Enough said.

Yes. Thank god he sacrifices himself. It's obviously hurting his career.

At the end of the day? Is this a reference to "the long run"? And I thought you knew economics.

All I'm saying is that when they teach the history of Economic Thought years from now they will need only cover Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Alfred Marshall, John Maynard Keynes, and Paul Krugman.

Along the same lines, I guarantee the Cubs win the 2065 World Series. Book it.

Maybe Paul Krugman will score a home-run in that game

A) What? How? One could argue the opposite.

B) Recently Scott Sumner's views have been pretty on the mark.

I find Krugman's attacks and persecution complex annoying, despite agreeing with much of what he says. On the other hand, the fact that both he and his opponents are willing to go sharply negative really helps me understand the differences. Politeness can make giant differences in theory and worldview obscure to those outside the field.

Hmm, that is an interesting point. I have to admit I never thought to see offensive exchanges in that light.

Yes, I thought it was an interesting point too.

Two other things that immediately came to mind: that piece on his wife's role in his transformation from scholar to partisan, and the last two lines of that "libertarian poem" that's been going around the internet:

"My favorite trade economist? Paul Krugman.
My least-favorite economist? Paul Krugman."

He can be annoying, even when one agrees w/ him (even more so when one doesn't). I'm still glad he's around.

Hmm... Something nice.

Well Krugman is a skilled political propagandist par excellence who has been extremely effective at discrediting the aspects of the last 30 years of work in macroeconomics that would otherwise question some of the assumptions of his political ideology.

I admire his zealous ability as the NYT's top defender of the faith to protect his readers from the unsettling economic realities of the modern world -- the collapse of Soviet socialism, the economic implosion of the great social welfare democracies of Europe, the failure of the Obama stimulus as measured by the baseline prepared by his own economic team, the ever increasing adoption of free market economics in China and India...

Lesser men raised in an era when the smartest economists at MIT thought the Soviet model was a smashing success. The great Samuelson held out through 1989 when he wrote in his textbook that "the Soviet economy is proof that, contrary to what many skeptics had earlier believed, a socialist command economy can function and even thrive."

Six years later even Samuelson recanted in the 1995 edition of his textbook, but the Krugman is on a much higher plane of awesomeness and his 1960's economic worldview remained unscathed, at least as reported in his column.

Could Krugman possibly be the greatest Keynesian fundamentalist of all time, yea even greater than Keynes, blessed be his name, himself? Aye, aye captain. For even Keynes backtracked on his views of large public works style stimulus spending.

Keynes may be Jesus Christ, the son of Man, and the founder of the cult of government spending but Krugman is like the apostle Paul -- the powerful force actually responsible for the dissemination of the religion long after the great teacher has died.


They should just rename "Keynesian Economics" to "Krugsian Economics"

Krugman is not primarily a macro guy. He did recently publish something with Gauti Eggertsson, but Steve Williamson assumes that was mostly Eggertsson. Krugman won his Nobel for trade theory.

This post wins the record for back-handedness.

Do you happen to know anything -- anything at all -- about the actual content of what Krugman has said about Soviet Communism, Europe, the stimulus in early 2009 or liberalization in India and China? You might as well just accuse him of being a follower of Saul Alinsky and Karl Marx and be done with it.

Seems like he nailed it. Good job Mercy!

Nailed political propagandist or knowing anything at all?

Dear Mercy
So far as I can tell, you don't cite a single specific instance of Krugman's error
Please give a url or a ref or something specific

Further, your sameulson quote - is that out of context ? given the thoughts of the time, the sameulson quote might not be as bad as you say.

The Samuelson quote was not at all out of context. Mainstream Keynesian economics in the 60's, 70's and even (for some holdouts) the 80's held that the Soviet Union was the model of efficiency because they had solved the unemployment problem that has for so long bedeviled market economies. 100% unemployment = greater efficiency and lower consumption = greater growth. The information problem with command economies? Bah, total nonsense for an old school Keynesian.

This topic was covered on MR a while back.

For the great Keynesians of the day at that time (when Krugman was learning macro at MIT), the Soviets were perpetually growing GNP at twice the rate of the U.S. and perpetually 20 years from surpassing the U.S. The key of course was the efficiency gained by full employment.

That's why I admire Krugman so much. He's able to persist with old school Keynesians even after 40 year holdouts like Samuelson changed their minds about the Soviet union. In fact, in addition to the Soviet Union, Krugman even watch the failure of Keynesian stimulus in Japan, the 2008 financial collapse (which happened in one of most heavily-regulated industries in the country and shortly after strict new regulations like SarPox, "know thy customer" and a Bush administration that increased federal regulatory staff by 91,196 people, an army-sized staff of new bureaucrats.

Instances of Krugman's error?! Ah, you're trying to trick me into quoting all of the instances of Krugman NYT versus Krugman textbook or the Krugman circa Bush versus Krugman circa Obama (2004: 3.5% of GDP deficit = horrible; 2010: 10% of GDP deficit = too small) . It's not going to work. Are you aware that Krugman won the Nobel Prize and cares about poor people? Krugman sometimes works in mysterious ways, but every time that Krugman seems to be engaging in shallow partisan hackery to advance his ideology, the reality is just that many mere mortals are not nuanced enough to understand the subtleties of his wisdom.


1. The neoclassical Keynesian synthesis endorsed, to some extent, what was then the relative success of the USSR's economy.

2. Krugman endorses New Keynesianism, despite the fact that the USSR collapsed.

3. ????

4. Krugman must be wrong.

in game terminology, this would qualify as a nuclear neg.

CH - Thanks. I take that as especially high praise since I so thoroughly enjoy your writing.


Despite his naked egotism, Krugman is almost always right. And he can be quite gracious with people who are not, as he says, mendacious. I wish there were more Krugmans in this country.

It's so hard. So hard...

Funny that for all but Tyler and Paul the affiliation is a school. What is the strategy or of the writer?

I see a sequel to Being John Malkovich in the works.

I haven't seen the movie so I'm not sure if that's being nice. I plead ignorance.

"Nice" is a place in France.

I am reminded of the awesomeness of beards. I now regret shaving mine off.

Krugman gets away with his attacks because most of his readers don't read other economists and don't realize there's another side to the story. He knows this and takes advantage of it.

That was nice for me.

Or, "krugs", not to be confused with thugs.

Hey I read other economists and I'm sure many of his other readers do too

I suspect less than 5% of his regular readers regularly read other economists. Us blog nerds aren't real people.

I will second CBBB. I read Krugman, Mankiw, and this site amongst many others. And Krugman is good a linking to the writings of people he disagees with and he advises his readers to read what he links too. Therefore, we are aware of the various sides.

What should you call followers of Krugman?

Krugites? Krugians? Krugmites? Wrong?

Pop Internationalism was OK.

Maybe "kruggists", not to be confused with druggists.

Greeks have a word for saying nice things about people:


Something nice, something nice. Okay:

Krugman knows more about macroeconomics than my 15 year old. (However, in about 5 years the tables will be turned. She's the best math student in her high quality high school.)

what does math have to do with macroeconomics? =P

I like the page, but I'm surprised that so few economists made it on. Prof. Krugman must be a lot less critical than I thought.

I like how Krugman gets the label "Insult comic" but Tyler doesn't get the equally applicable "self righteous know it all".

Note: I happen to like both insult comics and self-righteous know-it-alls.

None of these people appear to have been sexist or racist in their disparagement of other white, wealthy men with ridiculously expensive educations.

The picture of Tyler reminded me of Proximo, the guy who ran the arena in Gladiator.

"Shadows and dust." Always liked that line.

Also, Krugman's Nobel Prize winning work on trade as a function of consumer branding choice was excellent, as was his early work on Japan.

Nice, nice...

Well, I think that Krugman honestly, truely believes that you can refill a pool by filling buckets of water from the deep end and walking around to pour them into the shallow end. This compares very favorably to many bucket carriers, who merely profess such beliefs because they hope to swipe water for themselves during the walk.

I also was impressed by the combination of Krugman's claim that the only way for government to fight a recession would be to inflate a bubble and his (after-the-fact) claim that this wasn't actually *advice* because government-inflated bubbles aren't worth the cost. It would be nice if he would actually *apologize* to the Austrian economists too, but on the other hand imitation is the best form of flattery.

I will say something nice about Alex. Tyler is cofounder of Marginal Revolution

One thing that I like about Tyler is that he seems to take himself, and his role in the theater that is public economics, much less seriously than does Krugman. A little historical humility goes a long, long way.

Yes, if Tyler gets the Nobel that would just ruin him for everybody else.

One has to be careful about attack ads. If you post your own picture, for example, maybe someone could do the same thing to you about what you say about others and what is said about you.

Is this kind of post an alpha male thing where you try to organize submissive followers to Krugman bash or is it just Krugman envy?

This post sort of reminds me of the 60 Minutes Point/Counterpoint program where one called the other, in an SNL skit, Jane, you ugly slut.

This post and the link is getting close to that parody.

* 'ignorant slut'

Thanks for catching that one.

I see a lot of Krugman attacking ideas, and a lot of people attacking Krugman. From my lay, lefty point of view, Krugman's posts are usually data driven (perhaps selectively chosen, but what do you expect in a short post), while many of the assaults on him are typical right wing ad hominum junk. It's easier to keep your followers in line when you do everything possible to delegitimize the opposing point of view, and that seems to be the intent of the original Bloomberg post. If you make it about personalities, it's easier to hide the unfortunate to some fact that to the extent their conclusions have been tested by objective reality by and large Krugman has been right and his critics wrong.

So hard...

So condescending, so condescending....

Condescenting? Maybe. But your comment makes it sound like PK throws up hard data, and then comes under withering unsolicited attack from the vast right wing conspiracy.

That is not my perception of reality.

I think if you look at the totality of his non-academic writing, especially in the early and middle part of the Bush administration, withering unsolicited attack from the vast right wing ESTABLISHMENT is a pretty accurate description. I don't have a PhD in economics, and can only judge his professional acumen by how well his conclusions seem to match up with reality, and in that regard he seems to do quite well compared to most of his serious critics.

Your phrase "perception of reality" is doing all the work of this comment. The characterizing of Paul Krugman's arguments as data driven is either true or false and can be supported or refuted with reference to actual arguments he has written.

TomO: Wow! That's amazing. You completely missed the essence of Krugman's greatness -- his willingness to attack an entire discipline and it's leading scientists with the zeal and personal invective of a teen aged blogger.

I'm guessing that you haven't read what other economists have to say about our great Apostle Paul and Rush Limbuagh of the left. Otherwise you would appreciate how well our hero, the Krugman, does precisely as you say -- "everything possible to delegitimize the opposing point of view."

Here's the seminal document:


Well, it's a slow day, so I read both the link and what Cochrane was complaining about. Given that his specific complaint was apparently a direct quote of something that did frankly sound pretty stupid ("carpenters in Nevada..."), I can see why he was upset, but I also do not see any evidence that he asked for a correction, which makes me think the quote was legit. The Krugman article had in fact been corrected once (a Keynes quote was slightly embellished in the original), so if he was in fact misquoted it seems likely that could have been resolved. I have been selectively quoted myself on more than one occasion, and understand how these things can make you upset, but it seems to me his issue is with the Bloomberg person who wrote what Krugman quoted, not with Krugman himself.

Any article discussing why economists have been wrong is pretty likely to talk about, well, why economists have been wrong. He wrote about how strongly economists disagree using examples from both sides. I did not see any particular slant to the personal invective quoted in the article, but I did see some selective quoting from Dr. Cochrane where he commented on some of the less temperate quotes from the saltwater guys while passing over these from the freshwater group.

Overall, I thought Cochrane came across as thin skinned and overly sensitive, hardly a first for an academic.

I should mention that I know just enough of the academic world to understand the rules are different there, and by academic standards both Krugmans's post and Cochrane's response were far more emotionally charged than they appear at first glance, but things are different in the word where economics interface with politics. In that context, Krugman came across to me as forthright, Cochran as whiny.

Now, I admit I may have a tiny bias here, but to describe Krugman's article as "scathing personal attack on non-Keynesians" as another poster has done is frankly laughable.

The level of name-calling should tell you that economics is less a hard science or even engineering. Otherwise all disputes can be settled with a combination of dispassionate reasoning, cold, hard data, and firm experimentation. It is rather a branch of political science, more fitting for old men squabbling at the chamber committee deathly allergic to lab coats or sooty hands.

We get plenty of name calling in the stem fields too.

but in science you enjoy some hope of ultimate vindication.

Macroeconomics claims to be built on theories, but it's really built on competing, incompatible narratives. Narratives are much more flexible and able to accommodate new information than theories are. In all probability, CBBB, for example, will go to his death bed insisting Krugman was right all along regardless of what new facts and data come to light between now and that sad day. Same goes for adherents of other narratives.

All very annoying.

+1 to Yodeller and Brian, sadly

The likeliness is Paul Krugman will be dead long before I am and I probably won't remember these Econoblog arguments

I can't believe that there is a field of academics where people routinely get Nobel prizes for linear regression.

Saul Bellow got a Nobel Prize in Literature and didn't even do any math at all to get it. Friggin' lightweight...

I find the implication that founding the marginalrevolution blog is on the same par as universities and Nobel prizes a fun concept.

Of course, the blog is probably more influential...

The better attribution would have been "Tyler Cowen, contributor."

This blog is turning into one big Paul Krugman bash, it's getting to be a bit much - certainly it's hurting this blog's quality. Just accept it: Krugman Always Wins and move on.

Wins what?

Wins compared to what?

What facts do you have to support that raving-lunatic opinion?

He wins against the World.

Well if it's hurting this blog's quality, why do you keep hanging around?

I've posted this before, I used to think he was like my dad who loves watching Fox News because he disagrees so vehemently with them, and truly enjoys the indignation.

I now think CBBB is a classic internet troll. He's pretty good at it, but it's a sorry existence.

Trolls can be useful. CBBB doesn't really engage- he snipes.

But he livens the joint up, and maybe makes people think a little harder. Nothing more boring than a string of "me-too ism" in the comment threads, like at NYT, where "approved" (liberal) commenters enjoy preferential access. You really can get stupider reading those threads.

Well you're totally right about the NYT comment threads - and most other mainstream, big-media blogs

I'm trying to save this blog from imploding in on itself into mass Krugphobia.

When Krugman launched a scathing personal attack on non-Keynesians in the Sunday Times a few years ago, Johnny Cochrane wrote a smack-down rebuttal which contained this line: "PK is the Rush Limbaugh of the economics profession."

Now, I'm sure Cochrane things highly of Rush, so maybe he meant that as a compliment. Eh?

"I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart."

"The only way to truly know a person is to argue with them. For when they argue in full swing, then they reveal their true character."

-- Anne Frank

"It is written: 'Progressives do not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of Paul Krugman."

Stepping out of the who is right debate - I have a minor technical question (and I understand that it makes me look partisan)

Do any of the Krugman quotes listed qualify as ad hominem attacks? (noting of course that we don't have the context for the quote etc.)

The Chicago School's influence and prestige is pretty much due to their production of modeling. But these models were pretty worthless in predicting the financial meltdown and Great Recession, as well as pretty worthless in helping to get us out. Krugman's track record is much better on those things.

"...and the Lord said 'let there be a housing bubble', and lo! there was a housing bubble."

I agree, it's a fun graphic, but it's central conceit - Krugman vs. the world - of course is misleading. You could draw a graphic of any prominent intellectual and point to all the people with whom them disagree while leaving out all the others that person agrees with. Tylor could get the same treatment, even. Anyone could.

That's true but the thing is Krugman COULD take on the World and destroy it

I for one like to start each day with a generous helping of BOTH Conscience of a Liberal and Marginal Revolution.

Paul Krugman appears to be absolutely fearless.

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