10 Oct 2015

Contra Krugman Episode 4

Contra Krugman 24 Comments

Oh it’s a good one, folks.

24 Responses to “Contra Krugman Episode 4”

  1. Zack says:

    I love how that Krugman article is title “More on Jon Gruber.” (say it out loud).

    • libertynoman says:

      Well, Bob did say Krugman was a pretty witty guy and enjoyed using his titles to display said wit.

      Tom & Bob both have not shied away from professing their Christian beliefs. I’m surprised they didn’t comment on the possibility that the title of this current Krugman article presented a veiled threat that being against renewable energy made one a bad Christian or an “Enemy of the Son”.

      Did you just not want to go there Bob? That’s understandable. But, amongst adults, couldn’t that have been a fun thing to address?

  2. Z says:

    And what will you do, Dr. Murphy, in a week where he has a column you agree with? How can you run a show called ‘Contra Krugman’ if he has a post against the wars? I just blew your mind, didn’t I? Think about that…..

    • guest says:

      In Episode 1, they said they’d just elaborate on any issues that Krugman got right, because the topic would still be interesting.

    • aby says:

      Even when Krugman speaks out the wars, I think he will narrowly focus on W’s wars and conveniently ignore Obama’s and Hillary’s wars.
      So that is something they could point out to give Krugman some contra.

  3. libertynoman says:

    Bob, Krugman said that renewable energies made up the largest increases in electricity production in “advanced countries”, yet you only spoke about U.S. data and how fossil fuels dominated the U.S. marketplace. From my limited understanding, many “advanced economies” do not have the fossil fuel resources that the U.S. has, e.g. Japan and Germany import most, if not all, of their fossil fuels. Could it be that for these other “advanced countries” the portion of new electricity production coming from renewable energy is much greater than it is here in the U.S.? I guess even these other advanced countries probably use a good portion of these imported fossil fuels to generate electricity but this is probably nothing new.

    So, ultimately my question is can the U.S.’s increase in electricity production from natural gas and other fossil fuels outweigh the increases in electricity from renewable energy sources from all the other “advanced countries” that Krugman could have in mind so that Krugman’s statement is indeed false? I believe you would need to provide more concrete evidence, or non-U.S. data, to clearly show that Prof. Krugman is wrong.

    • Tel says:


      The quick summary for Japan is …
      Nuclear : down a lot
      Gas : up a lot
      Oil : up a bit (must have hurt at 2013 prices)
      Coal : up a bit
      Hydro : flat
      Other Renewable : flat and too small to notice.

      I don’t see a lot of support for Krugman in those charts. I think they are lighting up some of those nuke plants soon, not sure if those count as fossil or not. If CO2 is your bad guy then nuke is good, right? If safety is what keeps you up at night then you should love predictable coal.

      • Harold says:

        I think the USA is a special case because of the massive increase in oil and gas from frakking – reversing the “peak oil” Hubbert curve. Japan is unique case due toi the tsunami from one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded.

        The Guardian reports 22% of the worlds electricity is generated from renewables, and the UK generated 25% of its electricity from renewables in the second quarter of 2015.

        Tel, why is it easier to load heavily in peaky random energy where you have to trade accross borders rather than trading without borders like in the USA?

        • Tel says:

          Well Germany can look pretty good with plenty of solar and wind, when they know that France will always have their back on a cloudy still day, with a good supply of nuclear power.

          It’s a bit like having a high minimum wage in one city and then importing cheaply made goods. You can say, “See? No problem here,” but if the minimum wage was raised everywhere then no more importing cheap goods so people have to pay the full price… different story.

          I suppose the USA could also construct large nuclear baseload power and then sell that across state borders as backup when the wind doesn’t blow… the stats still wouldn’t look as good as Germany, and anyway I doubt anyone would be allowed to build those nuclear plants in the USA, there’s huge political resistance to it.

          Come to think of it, Bob missed a point in that the growth of coal has been sharply curtailed by regulations. It’s nearly impossible to get approval for a large coal plant in any advanced nation… so the growth statistics in coal tells you nothing about the technology other than the government doesn’t want more coal.

          Krugman is effectively saying we should base government policy on government policy… but then he would say that.

    • Tel says:


      Looks like Germany is seeing significant renewables growth. That would be the major one that the environmentalists talk about. Not sure how that averages with the USA, but it’s a lot easier to load heavily on peaky random energy like solar and wind in Europe where you can trade electricity across borders.

  4. J Mann says:

    The title is a Simpsons joke, I think.

  5. Grant McDermott says:

    libertynoman has already pointed this out, but Bob’s appeal to USA (instead of advanced countries as a whole) is a disingenuous sleight of hand. Looking at IAE electricity data for all OECD countries, we see that:

    Gross electricity production increased by 9.1 TWh from 2012-2013. Relative contributions of this aggregate change are as follows:
    – Nuclear +111%
    – Hydro +249%
    – Solar +310%
    – Wind +651%
    – Biofuels and waste +103%
    – Other renewables +20%
    – Coal +503%
    – Oil -636%
    – Gas -1,254% (!!)

    The picture for renewables is even more favourable if we look at changes from 2013-2014, where nuclear, solar and wind were the only sources to show any kind of positive growth at all. Indeed, they helped to partially offset a large overall decline in gross electricity production. The data for 2014 is still preliminary though and so I won’t quote in depth.

    You’d have to say that Krugman’s assertion stands. No doubt Bob will issue a correction in the next episode…

    Source: IAE Electricity Information 2015 (p. 129). Available: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/energy/electricity-information_20783442 See also the description of underlying drivers (by country) in these changes on page 37.

    • Grant McDermott says:

      Actually, I retract the “disingenuous” part above. Sorry Bob, that is unfair and uncharitable of me.

    • Tel says:

      Are those figures saying the amount of nuclear more than doubled in one year?

      How can gas reduce by a thousand percent? That doesn’t make sense.

      • Grant McDermott says:

        Tel, they are relative contributions to the *overall* growth. This is to be consistent with Krugman’s original statement.

        FWIW, electricity production from natural gas in the OECD group of countries fell from 2,747 TWh in 2012 to 2,633 TWh in 2013. So a 4% drop in terms of its own levels.

    • guest says:

      “Gross electricity production increased by …”

      Not relevant if it has to be subsidized.

  6. guest says:

    Bob, I was wondering if you would please put the new episodes on the Podcast page?

    I noticed that Episode 4 was on the Blog page.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Can you be more specific? I’m not sure what you are saying.

      • guest says:

        Well, now it’s on the main page, but when you click “Episodes” (which is “… /podcasts” in the URL) at the top, it shows the first three shows, and when you click “Blog” (“… /general”), it shows the “Welcome to Contra Krugman!” blog post.

        Episode 4 only shows on the main page, now.

        • guest says:

          Everything’s fixed now, by the way.

  7. Tel says:

    I know I’m jumping the gun here but, but this?

    You can see the result in the chart: a drastic shift of campaign giving away from Democrats toward Republicans. And this will have consequences: if a Republican wins, he or she will be very much in Wall Street’s pocket. If a Democrat wins, not so much.

    What?!? Hillary Clinton was paid millions in just “speaking fees” by the big banks (and Bill got some as well). She’s as deeply in Wall Street’s pocket as anyone could be.


    Wall Street’s reaction to her plan to regulation big banks was mostly a sigh of relief.

    “We continue to believe Clinton would be one of the better candidates for financial firms,” one analyst wrote.

    Gosh, can’t imagine why they don’t want Bernie Sanders (who is mostly supported by the unions).

    There’s older Clinton donation data if you check a site called “OpenSecrets” and plenty of banking money flowing back for 2002 to 2008, I’m sure she hasn’t forgotten. Basically, she’s always been the banker’s muppet.

    So Krugman is suddenly plugging Hillary, and saying that classified material on a hackable email server should be dismissed as a “partisan witch hunt”, obviously not important enough to worry about. Makes you wonder why they got so stroppy with that Manning character.

    Anyhow, Krugman sure knows how to pick a loser, Hillary is showing appalling poll results right now. I think she’s down and out, just gonna take a while before anyone admits that. Hillary is one of the few candidates equally disliked across the entire political spectrum.

    BTW: listen to Peter Shiff’s latest if anyone has a spare half hour… definitely not looking good for the US economy, I still say it’s going to slide into recession before much longer. Schiff says the US dollar will fall sharply, I say it will fall a bit more gently. I agree with Schiff that there’s got to be mal-investment in the US economy after all this ZIRP, just a question of how much. I think the Americans have great capacity to reinvent themselves but there’s going to be some bankruptcies coming before that happens… ain’t gonna be pretty.

    Bad times next year will surely help turn out the union voters for Sanders. He might beat Trump, you never know.

    • guest says:

      “BTW: listen to Peter Shiff’s latest if anyone has a spare half hour… definitely not looking good for the US economy, I still say it’s going to slide into recession before much longer.”

      The songs “The Printing was Not Enough” and “Stockfall” come to mind.


      “I think the Americans have great capacity to reinvent themselves but there’s going to be some bankruptcies coming before that happens… ain’t gonna be pretty.”

      There’s *so* much capacity for Conservatives to recover, if only they could understand Austrian Business Cycle Theory and Comparative Advantage (as Robert Wenzel has been mentioning, lately, with regard to Trump).

      But Conservatives will blow it – I guarantee it, by the way – because they think that paper money is helping the economy and because they think that foreign workers hurt the “American economy”, as if beneficial structures of production don’t extend beyond borders or as if American consumers have a duty to American producers.

      I watched Conservatives blow it, big time, leading up to the 2012 election.

      Tom Woods is right: Conservatives don’t understand conservatism (paraphrase). Conservatives have actually become socialists, and they don’t even know it. That pisses me off that they can’t recognize socialist ideology.

      • guest says:

        “That pisses me off that they can’t recognize socialist ideology.”

        Like this off! LOL

        (Gonna have to miss Zoolander 2, though, cuz they put Bieber in it.)

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