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Paul Krugman


  • Originally published 05/20/2013

    Paul Krugman: The Mythical '70s

    Paul Krugman is a Princeton economist and an op-ed columnist for the New York Times.Matt O’Brien is probably right to suggest that Michael Kinsley’s problems — and those of quite a few other people, some of whom have real influence on policy — is that they’re still living in the 1970s. I do, however, resent that thing about 60-year-old men …But it’s actually even worse than Matt says. For the 1970s such people remember as a cautionary tale bears little resemblance to the 1970s that actually happened.In elite mythology, the origins of the crisis of the 70s, like the supposed origins of our current crisis, lay in excess: too much debt, too much coddling of those slovenly proles via a strong welfare state. The suffering of 1979-82 was necessary payback.None of that is remotely true.There was no deficit problem: government debt was low and stable or falling as a share of GDP during the 70s. Rising welfare rolls may have been a big political problem, but a runaway welfare state more broadly just wasn’t an issue — hey, these days right-wingers complaining about a nation of takers tend to use the low-dependency 70s as a baseline.

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    Paul Krugman on Niall Ferguson

    After his Keynesianism-is-gay remarks got him in trouble, Niall Ferguson did the right thing and offered a straightforward, no excuses apology. Unfortunately, it seems that he has reverted to type; sigh.But this does seem to call for an update on a subject I have written about occasionally: the remarkable way in which the Great Recession, by bringing us back into a world of persistent inadequate demand, has unleashed a sort of reign of error among anti-Keynesian economists and pundits. And I’m not talking about the usual Heritage or Cato hacks; I’m talking about people with serious reputations either for research or for seemingly judicious commentary.Oh, and by “error” I don’t mean “views I disagree with”; I mean raw conceptual or empirical banana-peel episodes, the kind of thing that defenders of these men (who have a lot of defenders) try to justify not by claiming that they were right, but by claiming that they didn’t say what they did, in fact, say....

  • Originally published 03/18/2013

    Paul Krugman: Marches of Folly

    Ten years ago, America invaded Iraq; somehow, our political class decided that we should respond to a terrorist attack by making war on a regime that, however vile, had nothing to do with that attack.Some voices warned that we were making a terrible mistake — that the case for war was weak and possibly fraudulent, and that far from yielding the promised easy victory, the venture was all too likely to end in costly grief. And those warnings were, of course, right.There were, it turned out, no weapons of mass destruction; it was obvious in retrospect that the Bush administration deliberately misled the nation into war. And the war — having cost thousands of American lives and scores of thousands of Iraqi lives, having imposed financial costs vastly higher than the war’s boosters predicted — left America weaker, not stronger, and ended up creating an Iraqi regime that is closer to Tehran than it is to Washington.So did our political elite and our news media learn from this experience? It sure doesn’t look like it....

  • Originally published 01/22/2013

    Paul Krugman: Seneca, Selma, and Stonewall

    In his speech, Obama invoked the history of struggles for equality with a remarkable triptych: Seneca (women’s rights), Selma (black rights), and Stonewall (gay rights). And there has been remarkably little blowback — a sign of how much the country has changed.What many people may not realize is how recent those changes are. Gay rights may be relatively obvious — it’s just 8 years since opposition to gay marriage arguably played a significant role in Bush’s victory. But the big changes on the racial front are also more recent than widely imagined (obligatory disclaimer — yes, there’s a lot of racism remaining, and it can be truly ugly; we’re just talking about relative changes)....