06 Jan 2014

Pile-On On Krugman

Krugman 12 Comments

Alex Tabarrok has delivered the most crushing blows regarding Krugman’s major flip-flop on whether 2013 has any relevance for the Keynesian commentary, by bringing in Krugman’s commentary from April 2013 on why austerity in the US is just a tad less than in Europe. (This totally Kontradicts Krugman’s recent excuse that US austerity wasn’t anywhere near as bad as in Europe, and hence the decent growth of 2013 has no bearing on the effectiveness of fiscal policy.) If I had to pick just a single post to summarize one of the most open-and-shut Krugman Kontradictions of all time, it would be Alex’s.

However, for those who are true econ geeks, don’t miss David Beckworth’s contribution. He uses Krugman’s own recommended metric of austerity to show that in 2013, the US had more than double the Eurozone’s.

12 Responses to “Pile-On On Krugman”

  1. Yancey Ward says:

    One only has to imagine what column Krugman would have written last week had 2013 continued to be like it was in April. Does anyone think Krugman wouldn’t have been dancing on Sumner’s grave?

    • Major_Freedom says:

      If only there was a school of thought that enabled us to discern what must be true for human action in all possible worlds.

      If only there was a school of thought that enabled us to learn and explain that empiricism in economics is a fundamentally flawed methodology.

      If only…

    • Major_Freedom says:

      “The fact that things eventually turn up is neither a refutation of Keynesian analysis, nor a reason to excuse the vast economic and human costs of bad policy to date — just as it’s not a vindication of austerity policies in the UK.”

      Like I alluded to here, this response by Krugman here is technically permitted in Empiricism.

      No matter what happens (e.g. a theory appears to have been falsified or it has appeared to be confirmed), empiricist allows – indeed it restricts all interpretations to – skepticism of the result. The empiricist researcher can always assert that complicating factors, previously unaccounted for factors, and so on, could have affected the outcome such that the original hypothesis as it stands, can’t be regarded as conclusively verified or refuted.

      The problem with Krugman is that he isn’t skeptical of results that are consistent with his ideology. When the results suit his ideology, he doesn’t go out of his way to explain the technicalities of empiricism and to implore everyone to be skeptical of the results.

      I can understand Murphy’s frustration, but flip flops are permitted in Empiricism.

      • Bob Murphy says:

        Hang on a second MF. It’s fine methodologically for Krugman to say, “Growth would have been even better in 2013 had it not been for savage US austerity.” That’s a counterfactual, blah blah blah.

        What is NOT fine–even for an empiricist–is to say, “2013 is a good test of market monetarism because the austerity is almost as big as Europe’s” back in April, but then say “2013 wasn’t a good test of MM because the austerity was nowhere near as intense as in Europe” in January. Especially when your flip flop happens to line up with your prior policy preferences.

        • Major_Freedom says:

          OK, that makes sense. I shouldn’t have mentioned your frustration in that post. You’re talking about something else.

          You’re showing Krugman to have created a hypothesis for 2013 back in April, but now he is writing that hypothesis differently, after 2013 has come and gone.

          That’s brutal.

      • Tel says:

        You are missing the important bit about Occam’s Razor.

        The most elegant theory that fits the observation is considered the best, and overly complex theories are thrown away. For any set of data I can quickly and easily write a theory that is guaranteed to be correct merely by tabulating all available data.. . thus, in order to be regarded as “elegant” the candidate theory must be able to describe the results more efficiently that a brute force tabulation.

        The other point is about robustness and falsifiability, good scientist should deliberately seek out unusual cases and attempt to break the theory as much as possible. Going out of one’s way to seek affirmation is a general sign of a weak theory.

        • Matt Tanous says:

          “For any set of data I can quickly and easily write a theory that is guaranteed to be correct merely by tabulating all available data”

          A theory is supposed to explain, not report the data. Tabulating the data would not explain anything.

          • Tel says:

            What criteria would you use to decide whether the theory explains anything?

  2. Random Guy says:

    Quick! Send it in to ESPN for the Not Top Ten this Friday.

  3. Sealander says:

    Have any of Krugman’s typical defenders chimed in anywhere?

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