The blogosphere has been abuzz (though nothing compared to the Great Debt Debate of 2012) with activity centered on whether the year 2013 provided a good test of the economic views of Keynesians like Paul Krugman versus Market Monetarists such as Scott Sumner. These things often get bogged down in technical minutiae. In the present post, therefore, I will crystallize the essence of the dispute in simple terms for the lay reader.
THE KRUGMAN/SUMNER SHOWDOWN
The scene opens with Paul Krugman and Scott Sumner parading around the floor of the arena, surrounded by thousands of cheering and bloodthirsty fans. Both men are adorned with giant peacock feathers.
KRUGMAN: I am the manliest man on the Internet.
SUMNER: No, I am the manliest man on the Internet. That’s what the consensus of my peers tell me, and that’s what it means, after all, for a statement to be true.
KRUGMAN: I propose we settle this by armwrestling.
SUMNER: I’m not sure that that’s the best test, but I accept your challenge.
The men sit at a table and begin the match. At first Krugman appears to have the upper hand, as he pushes Sumner’s arm halfway down to the table surface.
KRUGMAN: It’s not looking good for you, is it Scott? Those Twinkies you’ve been eating seem to be taking their toll.
Sumner then twists his wrist, and pushes Krugman’s hand back toward the starting point. Then he quickly slams it down to the table. Sumner jumps up from the table, lifting his hands in celebration, bowing to the crowd and casting suggestive glances at Matt Yglesias.
KRUGMAN: What? Why is everyone cheering? What’s going on?
Krugman sneaks up behind a triumphant Sumner, winds up, and kicks him squarely in the groin. The Keynesians in the crowd erupt with applause, while the Market Monetarists begin booing.
BRAD DELONG (jogging out from the stands to the middle of the arena): Perhaps I can be of assistance? In my opinion, this has been a draw. The real test of manliness would have checked which gladiator could grow the best beard. Since they both shaved this morning, we just don’t have enough data. I realize the Sumner fans are claiming victory, but damned if I can see why.
NOAH SMITH (who had followed DeLong the whole way to the center of the arena, much as a puppy might): I must concur with Referee DeLong. Now in fairness, it is true that Gladiator Krugman suggested the armwrestling. But I must strongly object to the tactics of Gladiator Sumner. I mean, are you wearing a cup or something, for armwrestling? Who does that? Paul could’ve broken a toe.
SUMNER: Mark Sadowski…go get me my gun.
KRUGMAN (hopping out of the arena on one foot): This is no longer a mere match of manliness. This has now become a test of character!