03 Mar 2011

Krugman’s Stately Contradiction

Krugman, Shameless Self-Promotion 8 Comments

As an old Nickelodeon show would ask: “Kids, fair or unfair?” I accuse, you decide.

8 Responses to “Krugman’s Stately Contradiction”

  1. Teqzilla says:

    Krugman is being sly but I cant quite agree that there is a contradiction involved in Krugman’s two posts.

    I think you’ve been caught out by your generosity and taken Krugman’s first blog post as a sincere criticism of Tett’s paper rather than a deceptively worded non argument. If you read it carefully Krugman is only implying that he is attacking the substance of the paper without actually doing it. The supposed ‘illusion’ in Tett’s paper is simply not there.

    His actual argument is nothing more than making the true though irrelevant point that comparing the economic situation in states can give a misleading impression about the numbers of individuals subject to those differing economic conditions. There is no contradiction between the two posts because Krugman never argues that comparing employment rates of states with high and low populations is invalid in the first post, he only implies it by talking as if his irrelevant illusion has some bearing on her paper.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Yikes if I’ve lost Teqzilla, then the war is lost.

      What about the last sentence of his first post?

      • Captain_Freedom says:

        What about the last sentence of his first post?

        Ooo! Can I play this game? I want to be a Krugman follower. Here’s my stab

        “For the most part, all of America is sharing in this slump”

        CLEARLY means that Krugman is strongly emphasizing that within America, there are very noticeable significant differences in unemployment between the states.

        You see, if he would have said something like “For the most overwhelming super duper holy cow vast majority part, all of America is sharing in this slump”, THEN I would have taken him as saying it would wrong to innocently point out that there are significant differences between the states. THEN the colorful map would have been an illusion only.

        But since he only said “for the most part”, well, that means he is clearly trying to communicate to his readers that by “sharing the slump”, he means the states are sharing it very unequally.

        Do I win? LOL

  2. Xon says:

    Well, I think you’re right Teqzilla, but I also thought that was Murphy’s point in his article. It is a “stately,” sly contradiction on Krugman’s part. Murphy admitted up front that he didn’t think it was an explicit contradiction of the form “A and not-A”. I think what you describe is sufficient to make the accusation. He IMPLIES A in one post (very strongly, by as you say “talking as if…it has some bearing”), and then in another post he asserts not-A.

    He has an allibi to give to the deductive logic police, but in a civil suit he’s dead meat. 🙂

  3. Matt Flipago says:

    You have somewhat lost me too. Krugman is walking a nuanced position, but it doesn’t seem unreasonably nuanced. One the one hand, yes you should often compare states with large populations to avoid statistical variance. Although this is only useful when small states also have high unemployment. And Krugman said that the small states don’t matter because nobody lives there. Which is true. Large states are orders of magnitude larger. So Krugman can say for the most part all of America is sharing in this recession, because the places that aren’t don’t constitute a large minority.

    So I think Krugman can say yes almost all of America is sharing in the recession, and the only places that aren’t, are the very small populations states that got more stimulus.

    PS: I always found it difficult to believe the Federal government was the entity that formed the State governments, and yet was dumb enough to create a body of legislatures where all the states were equal. It seems the only arguments for a Senate are intertwined with states rights.

  4. Jones says:

    It looks like you are involved in some of your own cherry picking. I would hardly call Kentucky, South Carolina, Mississippi and Nevada bastions of liberal social policy. Also, there are a fair number of liberal states whose unemployment matches up just fine with with conservative states.

    Oh and lets not forget that great conservative state of Texas has one of the largest budget deficits in the nation. Really though who cares…they’ll just impose all the suffering on poor people for a few years and declare another rousing victory for conservative ideology.

    • bobmurphy says:

      Hang on a second. It seems you are saying, “Hey Mr. Smarty Pants, Texas has a high unemployment rate and a big budget deficit. So there!” That doesn’t hurt my case. All you’ve done is show that Texas isn’t as “conservative” as people might think.

      Nevada is obviously impacted by the housing bubble; I don’t know what their politics are like. Same for other states. I would want to look at their actual fiscal policies over the years, not just go on stereotypes.

      (I concede that I have not done an analysis like this recently. At my previous employer we did state analysis and generally speaking yes the states with supply-side policies had lower unemployment rates, faster population growth, higher GSP growth, etc.)

  5. Alex Tabarrok says:

    Asteroids or not this time you nailed it!