26 Jun 2013

Klever Krugman Responds to Landsburg’s Klaimed Karicature

Krugman, Steve Landsburg 16 Comments

No doubt inspired by my trademarked “Krugman Kontradiction,” my favorite blogger has a response to Landsburg entitled “Karicature Keynesianism.” It is quite clever; let me show you why. Krugman writes:

[L]et me note that Landsburg’s latest unfortunate intervention follows a well-trodden path: that of starting from the proposition that Keynesians are themselves really, really stupid — a proposition argued not by pointing to anything actual Keynesians say, but instead by presenting a caricature that supposedly is what Keynesians believe. Call it Karicature Keynesianism.

Anyone who’s followed the various attacks on yours truly knows what I mean: Keynesians believe that budget deficits never matter, that increasing demand can solve all economic problems, that there’s no such thing as a supply side to the economy, that more spending is always good. You can see it even in the comments to Kuehn’s post, with people expressing doubt about whether there’s crowding out in my textbook. Let me suggest a very difficult research project: how about actually looking at the book?

By the way, the man who really brought Keynesianism into the classroom — who was responsible for what we now call the “Keynesian cross” — was Paul Samuelson. And while arguing from the qualities of individuals isn’t the main way you should assess anything, still: maybe you think I’m stupid (a remarkable number of people apparently do believe that), but do you really imagine that Paul Samuelson was an idiot promoting a moronic set of ideas?

Do you see how neat this is? Krugman decided to illustrate his complaint by doing to Landsburg exactly what Krugman claims Landsburg did to Krugman. Specifically: Landsburg never claimed any of the following in his post:

(a) Krugman has no discussion of crowding out in his textbook.
(b) Krugman is stupid.
(c) Keynesianism is stupid.
(d) Samuelson is an idiot.
(e) Samuelson promoted a moronic set of ideas.

Instead, Landsburg claimed that the textbook, Econ 101 use of the Keynesian Cross to deduce a multiplier for government spending, is based on a fallacy.

In order to refute that, Krugman should point out in Samuelson and/or Krugman/Wells the passage in this discussion showing that he evades Landsburg’s fallacy.

Since Krugman resorts to pouting and invents attacks on himself that Landsburg never launched, Steve should be flattered at the admission that he hit pay dirt.

(At the office tomorrow I’ll look through Samuelson and Krugman/Wells to see what we shall see. I have to do the work Krugman refuses to do.)

16 Responses to “Klever Krugman Responds to Landsburg’s Klaimed Karicature”

  1. Daniel Kuehn says:

    So only the first paragraph seemed like a reference to Landsburg to me. The rest, I thought at least, was referring to caricaturing of Keynesians generally (as you say – Samuelson wasn’t even mentioned in Landsburg’s post). He is also clearly referring to people in my comment section (and Landsburg hasn’t been there.

    So the only relevant thing on your list w.r.t. Landsburg is (c.).

    Arguably, it’s implied.

    Put it this way, some pretty brilliant minds have been peddling this stuff so if a little algebra from Rothbard is enough to demonstrate how shaky it is I think it’s fair to suggest that Landsburg was implying something like (c.).

    • JSR08 says:

      The point is, Krugman wants to respond Landsburg somehow, but evidently cannot do it on the strength of his position because he dedicates most of his post to attacking things Landsburg did not say.

      It is not a convincing argument to any open minded person to say that this guy over here’s logic is stupid because things other people said about me aren’t true.

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        Well, not to toot my own horn or anything but he said he didn’t respond directly to Landsburg because he outsourced it to me. That’s not “cannot do it on the strength of his position”, that’s just agreeing with another person’s argument.

        • Bob Murphy says:

          OK fair enough Daniel, but then I would respond that you didn’t really quote from an Econ 101 textbook to make your point. You just claimed that any decent professor goes over all those caveats, which I don’t know is true.

    • RPLong says:

      I don’t understand how Landsburg’s rejection of the Keynesian multiplier – which his hardly a heterodox position, by the way – somehow suggests (c).

      That’s nuts. It’s possible to love Comparative Advantage and despise the Labor Theory of Value. Criticism of the latter is by no means the same thing as calling Ricardo stupid.

      Landsburg is following a very rich tradition of logicians/mathematicians who enjoy the playful nature of disproving fallacies. Krugman is so far away from that intellectual culture that he sadly takes offense to a simple and effective critique of a commonly held logical fallacy.

      Landsburg was clear all along that he wasn’t criticizing Krugman’s actual position. From the very beginning, he made clear that he was criticizing the bad logic used in Econ 101 courses. What’s wrong with that?

      • Daniel Kuehn says:

        I didn’t say it was his rejection of it or criticism of it that implies c.

        “Playful nature” is not something that comes to mind when I think of Landsburg.

        re: “What’s wrong with that?”

        Well, his criticism for starters.

        • RPLong says:

          I was hoping for a more substantive reply. If you don’t see the playful nature of classic books like The Armchair Economist then your sense of humor needs an adjustment.

          • Daniel Kuehn says:

            I haven’t read the book – I just know him from his blogging.

            It was entirely substantive. It was just abbreviated because I’ve been writing a lot on this already and am not going to repeat everything in every comment. But I think I cut straight to the point in everything I wrote.

    • Ken B says:

      Actually it’s f)

      f) A certain famous blogger peddles really bad arguments under the rubric “It’s Econ 101”.

  2. Warren says:

    I don’t know about A but B-E sound spot on.

  3. Tel says:

    Krugman 2009: “The thing is that both the fixed rate and closed multipliers are around 1.5 — which so happens to be just about the number assumed by Christina Romer in her analysis for the Obama administration. Just saying.”

    So given the amount of government spending since 2009, has anyone seen a multiplier of 1.5 happening?

    Employment hasn’t even turned around in all those years. Just saying.

  4. Teqzilla says:

    Krugman deplores caricaturing opposing views and reducing intellectual disputes to accusations against an opponents competence and character. He deplores it.

    You know, his hypocrisy should get boring but I still get a strange kind of kick from the sheer brazenness of it. Hopefully he celebrates the “citizen filibuster” that happened in texas so we can all reacquaint ourselves from the tea party ‘mobs’ from the healthcare townhalls.

  5. John says:

    Having used the Krugman/Wells book for my introductory macro and micro course some years back. I can say for a fact that he uses simply Keynesian multipliers based on the Marginal Propensity to Consume. He also advocated price controls because “World War II set off an economic boom.” No mention of inflation anywhere during those glory days. The caricatures of Krugman are more right than wrong and his textbooks are not going to bail him out on this issue. I’d suggest to anyone interested in finding a bunch of disproven statist garbage to use against him in argument that they do actually pick up the books he recommends.

    • Daniel Kuehn says:

      Your memory doesn’t seem to be serving your right. Noiselull emailed Bob and I the pdf and I found all of it in the book. p. 176, 185 I believe but I’d have to check again.

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