Meta-Blog

SEARCH QandO

Email:
Jon Henke
Bruce "McQ" McQuain
Dale Franks
Bryan Pick
Billy Hollis
Lance Paddock
MichaelW

BLOGROLL QandO

 
 
Recent Posts
The Ayers Resurrection Tour
Special Friends Get Special Breaks
One Hour
The Hope and Change Express - stalled in the slow lane
Michael Steele New RNC Chairman
Things that make you go "hmmmm"...
Oh yeah, that "rule of law" thing ...
Putting Dollar Signs in Front Of The AGW Hoax
Moving toward a 60 vote majority?
Do As I Say ....
 
 
QandO Newsroom

Newsroom Home Page

US News

US National News
Politics
Business
Science
Technology
Health
Entertainment
Sports
Opinion/Editorial

International News

Top World New
Iraq News
Mideast Conflict

Blogging

Blogpulse Daily Highlights
Daypop Top 40 Links

Regional

Regional News

Publications

News Publications

 
Paul Krugman Gets a Word in Edgewise
Posted by: Jon Henke on Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Paul Krugman, on his New York Times Conscience of a Liberal blog, complains that "only the guys who were wrong [about, e.g., Iraq and the mortgage situation] get invited to opine on Charlie Rose" and are otherwise provided with a public platform to voice their criticisms...
Today, our public discourse is dominated by people who have been wrong about everything — but are still, mysteriously, treated as men of wisdom, whose judgments should be believed. Those who were actually right about the major issues of the day can’t get a word in edgewise.
Really, there are three responses here:

  1. UMMM...: Paul Krugman is a regular columnist for the New York Times, and appears regularly on television, on panels, and often on....er, Charlie Rose. But other than that, he can barely get a word in edgewise.


  2. PHYSICIAN, HEAL THYSELF...: Where do I start?

    • Suitably Flip points to our previous observation that Paul Krugman has predicted a recession/economic slowdown in every year since the last recession. I updated that collection of predictions recently with more quotes here.


    • this list of Krugman predictions is also quite funny - e.g., "By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's" because "most people have nothing to say to each other!"


    • Paul Krugman himself has admitted he has been wrong about a lot of important stuff: "But compare me with anyone else, and I think my forecasting record is not great."

    Such predictions do not appear to have disqualified Paul Krugman from being treated as a man of wisdom, whose judgments should be believed.


  3. WE WERE ECONOMISTS ONCE, AND YOUNG...: Here's what Paul Krugman said about predictions back during the 90s, before he became a partisan hack...
    Still, both cases show that in the buzzing, blooming confusion that is the economy it is all too easy for those who would make economic predictions to be right for the wrong reasons, and conversely. Confused thinking does not necessarily lead to disaster; steel-trap logic is no guarantee of success.
    [...]
    But there is also, I think, another moral. If being smart is no guarantee of being right, having been right is not necessarily an indicator that someone is smart.

Megan McArdle has a much more sophisticated discussion of hypothesis testing and accuracy here.

Show/Hide

Here's a prediction: Paul Krugman will not disqualify himself based on the things he's gotten wrong. His argument is a partisan grievance, not a categorical imperative.
 
TrackBacks
Return to Main Blog Page
 
 

Previous Comments to this Post 

Comments
The question we all should be pndering ..

why is it that no one say the current financial crisis coming ?


There was a lot of noise, but all the end-of-the-world scenarios looked nothing like what is going on on Wall Street. Expert after expert is saying that they never saw anything like what is going on now. You find yourself asking whether these experts ever, just ever, think outside the box.
 
Written By: Neo
URL: http://
I’m not sure what aspect of the current economic problems you’re saying were not predicted, but there were quite a lot of people who were arguing that we were in a housing bubble and that it would end badly. Whether they predicted how that problem would manifest itself or what practical measures we could take against it, I don’t know.

It’s relatively easy to say "this is a problem." It’s very difficult to both identify a problem and identify a solution that doesn’t simply shift the problem elsewhere. As Krugman has pointed out in the past, the market can "fail" (I don’t like the term, but we know what it means), but government intervention usually either doesn’t really solve the problem or actively makes things worse.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
There was an obvious housing bubble that developed over several years. Why people don’t expect such bubbles to burst is probably a tribute to some chemical in the human brain that has yet to be discovered.

Housing tends to reach its bottom very quickly, but it can stay there for quite a while. So, thankfully, housing is out as a speculative investment, right now. At least as a speculative investment with a short term payoff. It’s still a very good long term investment, especially as it approaches its bottom.

The internet stock bubble of the late ’90s was so obvious that I wondered how it kept on growing.

But that’s free market capitalism. People can invest their money however they want. A lot of people made a lot of money in housing, and a lot of them made it after the point where prudence dictated not getting in.

The subprime thing is still something of a mystery to me, but I guess lenders can be speculators too. Bad lending practice. Prudence is a virtue for everyone.

Biggest bargain in the world now is dollars, though. Good place to park cash during a world recession (or in anticipation of an anticipated world recession). The euro and gold are already overvalued, and any anticipated recovery from the anticipated recession must be anticipated to begin in the United States.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
P.S.

I’ve seen Paul Krugman do interviews. He is a nervous, fevered little man who should probably be under the care of a psychiatrist, not writing on serious matters for the New York Times. A useless academic with no life. How does a peckerwood like that get a column for what is supposed to be the most important newspaper in the U.S.?

My guess is that he knew how to tell Arthur Sulzberger Jr. exactly what Sulzberger wanted to hear.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
"...because "most people have nothing to say to each other!""

That’s pretty funny. Since when has having nothing to say ever prevented anyone from saying it? I know I do my share.


"If being smart is no guarantee of being right, having been right is not necessarily an indicator that someone is smart."

That’s a good thought. I’ll give him points for that.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://
A useless academic with no life. How does a peckerwood like that get a column for what is supposed to be the most important newspaper in the U.S.?
On the contrary, Paul Krugman is a remarkably good academic and writer. He got the New York Times column because he is an incredibly good writer. Paul Krugman is to economics as Isaac Asimov was to science - a tremendous popularizer, who could write clearly for a lay audience.

Unfortunately, Paul Krugman took a turn about 8 years ago and decided that he would be a partisan, rather than an analyst. As with Limbaugh or Olbermann, partisan hackery has made his name with an audience....but at what cost?

That said, though, you should distinguish between Krugman the Academic and Krugman the Pundit.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
I don’t know as that split can logically be made, Jon. I mean, I take your point, but I personally would always wonder how much his partisanship is coloring his worldview and thereby his academics, as well.

 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
but government intervention usually either doesn’t really solve the problem or actively makes things worse.

This is what’s known as a "slogan". The problems with the mortgage market, for example could have been drastically alleviated by one simple regulatory act that Greenspan, Bush, and the Republican Congress were too lazy and ideological to even consider. I would add that "doesn’t really solve the problem" is a question of your personal goalposts, as is "makes things worse".

But back on the main topic, more shifting of goalposts. Krguman’s argument is not that people who supported the Iraq War should be banned from speaking in public, but that it is stupid and unrepresentative to hold a symposium on an Iraq War that has gone rather worse than expected and have all four of your invitees - both the "pro-war" side of the panel and the "anti-war" side of the panel - all be people who supported the war in the first place. Maybe you should have addressed his actual point.

Meanwhile, economics is rather less predictable than political science.


 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
but government intervention usually either doesn’t really solve the problem or actively makes things worse.
This is what’s known as a "slogan".
Possibly. But the facts seem to back this one up.
The problems with the mortgage market, for example could have been drastically alleviated by one simple regulatory act that Greenspan, Bush, and the Republican Congress were too lazy and ideological to even consider. I would add that "doesn’t really solve the problem" is a question of your personal goalposts, as is "makes things worse".
The problem, here is the government’s insisting on high risk loans, under the guise of "equal opportunity’ and ’equal lending laws’ which directly resulted in a large number of people who simply couldn’t pay, being loaned money.

Laudable goals, but demonstrably unattainable, and damaging. Yet another example of how Government is not the solution. Government is the PROBLEM.


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
The problems with the mortgage market, for example could have been drastically alleviated by one simple regulatory act that Greenspan, Bush, and the Republican Congress were too lazy and ideological to even consider.
What was that act and when would they have considered/implemented it?
Krguman’s argument is not that people who supported the Iraq War should be banned from speaking in public, but that it is stupid and unrepresentative to hold a symposium on an Iraq War that has gone rather worse than expected and have all four of your invitees - both the "pro-war" side of the panel and the "anti-war" side of the panel - all be people who supported the war in the first place. Maybe you should have addressed his actual point.
He didn’t refer to a single panel, but to "panels", and he said it was Alan Greenspan who "set me off". Anyway, he didn’t limit his remarks to any single panel, but referred to "our public discourse". So I addressed "our public discourse".
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
"Paul Krugman is to economics as Isaac Asimov was to science..."
That’s about the most frightening and ridiculous thing I’ve read this week.

When I think about that and then Henry Hazlitt — a man who understood economics and who could actually write — I think I could find time for a good stiff drink at nine o’clock in the morning.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
Henke:
On the contrary, Paul Krugman is a remarkably good academic and writer. He got the New York Times column because he is an incredibly good writer. Paul Krugman is to economics as Isaac Asimov was to science - a tremendous popularizer, who could write clearly for a lay audience.
Yes, I’ve seen you defend him before, but I recall that you based that on the idea that he had made some important technical contributions as a scholar to economics.

His columns for the Times are awful, from my perspective. Essentially unreadable, but then on a page with Maureen Dowd and Bob Herbert and Frank Rich, who would notice. I don’t see anything special about his writing, and that’s never been a requirement for getting a column at the Times, anyway.

Ideology is what gets you a column at the Times, the further left the better, with David Brooks and now Bill Kristol being the tolerated interlopers who supposedly balance the rest of it.

The analogy to Asimov is a bit much, don’t you think?
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/
Umm, just a question, but if Paul Krugman is so smart, why does he complain about not having a wider audience when he writes for the NEW YORK freaking TIMES and its website (which is now available to anyone with an internet connection)?
 
Written By: A fine scotch
URL: http://
why does he complain about not having a wider audience when he writes for the NEW YORK freaking TIMES and its website (which is now available to anyone with an internet connection)?




Heh.
Mostly because the readership numbers for the Times are in the toilet... a situation that is worsening by the day, in nearly direct proportion to how far the Times tilts left. And of course the concept that after a few years of samples of Krugman’s work, most folks consider Ronald McDonald more credible on Krugman’s chosen topics.


 
Written By: Bithead
URL: http://bitsblog.florack.us
That’s about the most frightening and ridiculous thing I’ve read this week.
I’m not sure why. Whether you agree with him or not - and a lot of Asimov’s science writing for the layman contained opinions, hypotheses and speculation - Paul Krugman has been very good at translating complex economic issues into layman language....particularly during the 90s. Since around 2000-2001, he became much more of a hack, albeit one who writes well. One can be a good writer and wrong, just as one can be a bad writer and correct.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
"Paul Krugman has been very good at translating complex economic issues into layman language...."
{hah!} {laff} {cackle}

Yeah. Sure.

You’re going to get a good taste of that bullsh!t next November.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
I didn’t say I agreed with him. Do try to distinguish between "good writer" and "correct."
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
I do. I call the former "fiction" and it has no place in economics.
 
Written By: Billy Beck
URL: http://www.two—four.net/weblog.php
What was that act and when would they have considered/implemented it?

When: at any time between 2003 and 2006. 2007 would probably have been too late. There were mainstream voices talking about the credit bubble, and economist columns on how derivatives were tying the banks to real estate. The pieces were right there to anyone interested in reading. That’s why Paul Krugman predicted this.

Something innovative like this - was probably way too much to hope for from people who have never passed a helpful regulation in their lives, or even tried to -
and, to be fair, probably counts as more than one step.

So let’s try something a little simpler:

here

In case you can’t be bothered to find it in there: Reserve requirements for mortgage brokers and the associated banking transactions.
Short. Sweet. Collapse-inhibiting. The most obvious feature of the banking fixes in the 1930’s.

Republicans can’t solve, alleviate, prevent, or in any way deal with self-generating market failures, because any type of solution is seen as inherently heretical. One of my larger strikes against them.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Looking at the complaint I see Paul Krugman is (mostly) right-

-new job creation collapsed in 01 and 02. Thats why the republicans constantly point to new jobs since 2003 when they point to a number.

-his 2004 column that oil prices will remain high even without a disruption looks prescient.

-he was predicting the housing bubble collapse earlier-2005 and to arrive in 2006. It did not actually arrive until mid to late 2007.

-his point about the war chearleaders is best illustrated by charlie rose’s recent show with a panel of 4 to discuss ’both sides’ of the Iraq war. 2 who were in favor of the war, and 2 who were in favor of the war but expressed some small reservation of concern. all 4 still supported the war.
here’s a discussion: http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2008/03/25/war_opponents/index.html

On a couple of other points:
-if the US isnt producing 150,000 new jobs a month then job creation is not keeping up with adult population growth. Under clinton job creation averaged 270,000 a month. Under bush 2 its averaging 83,000 a month.

-Martin: "Housing tends to reach its bottom very quickly, "- No it doesnt- at least not housing prices.

-"Biggest bargain in the world now is dollars, though. Good place to park cash during a world recession (or in anticipation of an anticipated world recession). The euro and gold are already overvalued,"-also: No. Also we’re not looking at a ’world recession’. just a US one. And if the Republicans continue deficit spending under a mccain presidency or manage to kick the subprime crisis down the road or china decides to delink from the dollar- any of those will cause the dollar to devaluate further.

-"Essentially unreadable, but then on a page with Maureen Dowd and Bob Herbert and Frank Rich, who would notice." - that would be MoDo who got a pulitzer for her 10 column screed about how sordid the monica lewinsky affair was? and non entity bob herbert? And frank rich- last I knew he wasnt published on the op-ed page.

-yes paul krugman is horrible in interviews. He has the kind of voice that should stick with print.
 
Written By: Aaron
URL: http://
When: at any time between 2003 and 2006.
Even Paul Krugman, who likes to talk about how he was warning about this before others were, really began warning about this problem in 2005...just a few months before Alan Greenspan also acknowledged the problem. Even at a torrid pace for government regulators, you wouldn’t be seeing new regulation even remotely soon enough to stop the problem. But....
In case you can’t be bothered to find it in there: Reserve requirements for mortgage brokers and the associated banking transactions.
Dale Franks pointed out a problem with that...
...as far as regulation goes, the majority of the subprime loans originated from firms that are not, and never have been, subject to Federal regulatory scrutiny. In 2005, 52% of subprime mortgages were issued by firms who are not subject to any federal regulation at all. Another 25% were issued by firms with only an indirect regulatory relationship with the fed. As Fed Governor Susan Bies said, "What is really frustrating about this is [federal regulators] don’t have enforcement authority to do anything with these state-licensed, stand-alone mortgage lenders."

You see, those mortgage brokers are regulated by the states. Not the Federal government.

So, it doesn’t matter who the "presidential appointees" are, or what the federal regulatory environment is, when that regulatory environment doesn’t apply to the mortgage brokerage.
 
Written By: Jon Henke
URL: http://QandO.net
Also we’re not looking at a ’world recession’. just a US one.
Delusional. But upon what motivation?
-new job creation collapsed in 01 and 02. Thats why the republicans constantly point to new jobs since 2003 when they point to a number.
Yes, one tends to point to job creation during the recovery part of the business cycle. One of the reasons for the slowness in job creation was that businesses maintained high productivity and worked their employees into overtime rather than add new ones. Those are trends that no government should attempt to, or could, control, at least not in the U.S. They try it in France by limiting the number of hours an employee can work per week. Real smart.
that would be MoDo who got a pulitzer for her 10 column screed about how sordid the monica lewinsky affair was? and non entity bob herbert? And frank rich- last I knew he wasnt published on the op-ed page.
A Pulitzer for Dowd says more about the meaninglessness of Pulitzers than it does about Dowd. Rich returned to the Op-Ed page a few years ago. I think he writes on Saturday or Sunday, but then I read him so seldom it’s hard to remember. And of course I left out Gail Collins, who should have a note at the top of her column from an M.D. verifying that she was still living when she wrote it, as far as he could tell.
-[Krugman] was predicting the housing bubble collapse earlier-2005 and to arrive in 2006. It did not actually arrive until mid to late 2007.
Funny, we bought our house in May ’04 and we already knew that there was a bubble, given that we were paying roughly three times what the seller paid five years earlier. Fortunately we were buying in an area where we wanted to be, were not speculating, and the prices were well below the trend lines in other places. So it was still a good price for us at the time we wanted to buy. But we knew that we were purchasing in a bubble, though far from the top.

And housing prices do reach their bottom with relative quickness, and then stay there for a relatively long time. Buyers and sellers enter into a stalemate. There are areas (Nevada is one, I think) where speculation went wild, and that’s going to skew the market in that region, but maybe not as much as one might think.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://mcphillips.blogspot.com/

 
Add Your Comment
  NOTICE: While we don't wish to censor your thoughts, we do blacklist certain terms of profanity or obscenity. This is not to muzzle you, but to ensure that the blog remains work-safe for our readers. If you wish to use profanity, simply insert asterisks (*) where the vowels usually go. Your meaning will still be clear, but our readers will be able to view the blog without worrying that content monitoring will get them in trouble when reading it.
Comments for this entry are closed.
Name:
Email:
URL:
HTML Tools:
Bold Italic Blockquote Hyperlink
Comment:
   
 
Vicious Capitalism

Divider

Buy Dale's Book!
Slackernomics by Dale Franks

Divider

Divider