I don’t know if Scott Sumner’s world view contained contradictions all along and I am just recently noticing them, or if he decided to punt on most of his original views and focus on “we need more inflation” to not muddy the waters.
In any event, Scott used to lecture people when they thought about central bank policy in terms of interest rates. Nowadays, all Scott talks about is how it would be a mistake for central banks to raise rates.
It used to be that Scott said “there is no such thing as wait and see” when it comes to evaluating monetary policy. For example, here and here. If you read those links, you’ll see that this was a principle he used to try to ram into people’s heads; I don’t just mean he adhered to it the way, say, he might like vanilla ice cream. No, to say “there is no such thing as ‘wait and see’ when it comes to monetary policy” was a tenet of Scott Sumner, blogger.
But now things have totally flipped. Not only does Scott think the last six years have amply proven that the hawks were wrong, but he in fact is aghast that some people might deny that you could look at several years of experience and then determine whether the hawks in 2009 had been right or wrong:
I argued against a rate increase in September, and will probably argue against one in December. If it turns out that 2 or 3 years from now the Fed is setting rates where the Fed currently expects to set rates, then I will have to concede that my current views are wrong, and that a rate increase in December would have been called for.
In contrast, if 2 or 3 years out in the future the Fed is setting rates where the market currently thinks they will be setting rates, then the Fed hawks (and even some doves) that now favor a rate increase in December will have clearly been wrong.
What discourages me most is not that people are right or wrong (there’s a good chance my views will turn out to be wrong.) Rather what discourages me most is that people don’t seem to even understand that after the fact it is possible to ascertain who was right and who was wrong about monetary policy. For instance, in retrospect Richard Fisher was clearly wrong in advocating a rise in interest rates in July 2008.
Last thing: As with Krugman’s Kontradictions, I am sure Scott can reconcile all of the above. But 99% of his EconLog readers of that recent post would walk away thinking, “Scott Sumner is saying that after waiting three years, we will have convincing evidence about whether today’s hawks or doves are right.” If that’s not “wait and see” to evaluate monetary policy, I’m not sure what is.