07 Nov 2011

Krugman Bask

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Does anybody know of a Krugman quotation along the lines that we can’t trust politicians with Power X, because they will inevitably abuse it and not use it in the way the experts think is “optimal”? I don’t have a quotation in mind; I’m just wondering if he ever said anything like that. In particular, back when he used to champion free trade, did he ever say anything like, “Although theoretically there is an academic case for an ‘optimal tariff,’ in practice industries would clamor for protective tariffs that were far too high.” ?

6 Responses to “Krugman Bask”

  1. Yosef says:

    Is there any specific power you have in mind? Will this do?
    “America’s founders knew all too well how war appeals to the vanity of rulers and their thirst for glory. That’s why they took care to deny presidents the kingly privilege of making war at their own discretion.” (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/06/24/opinion/24krugman.html?hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1320719308-M0zYvPhKr4IttPRekA8e/g)

    • Bob Murphy says:

      That’s along the right line, but I’d rather it be economic. Thanks though.

      • Yosef says:

        Yeah, that’s what I thought. I think this is more along the lines:
        “The general conclusion of those who have tried-to estimate the likely gains from strategic trade policies is that, while you can do better than free trade, the potential net gains are nothing to write home about —they are even smaller than the conventional estimates of the costs of protection. For example, a simulation study of the prospects for strategic trade policies in a number of British industries by Anthony Venables of Southampton University found that the potential net gains were generally less than 3 percent of sales. Meanwhile, there is political reality to consider. Given the uncertainty about what strategic trade policy should be, wouldn’t any attempt at doing it turn into thinly disguised interest-group politics? Almost
        surely it would.” (p. 132 of The Age of Diminished Expectations)

        The last two sentences in particular I hope are what you are looking for.

  2. Major_Freedom says:

    Here’s one”

    “And don’t say that we just need better politicians. If libertarianism requires incorruptible politicians to work, it’s not serious.”


    And another:

    “And there’s a real chance that Republicans will get what they want. That’s a demonstration, if anyone needed one, that our political culture has become not just dysfunctional but deeply corrupt.”


    I know there are more. I distinctly remember this one whopper where he really made a clear argument that politicians can’t enact pure Keynesian theory. I’ll try to find it.

  3. Jordan says:

    Read his textbook coauthored with Robin Wells (2009 ed.). He condemns both price controls and opponents of free trade. I read the textbook in an Intro to Macroeconomics class about a year ago for summer school.

  4. Bob Murphy says:

    Thanks guys. I think Yosef’s second one is exactly what I need, unless someone finds him saying the same type of thing more succinctly.