In a recent lecture, Paul Krugman, winner of the Nobel prize in economics in 2008, argued that much of the past 30 years of macroeconomics was “spectacularly useless at best, and positively harmful at worst.”
But precisely what was useless and harmful turns out to be Krugman’s own espoused Keynsian beliefs. John Cochrane explains:
Most of all, Krugman likes fiscal stimulus. In this quest, he accuses us and the rest of the economics profession of “mistaking beauty for truth.” He’s not clear on what the “beauty” is that we all fell in love with, and why one should shun it, for good reason. The first siren of beauty is simple logical consistency. Paul’s Keynesian economics requires that people make logically inconsistent plans to consume more, invest more, and pay more taxes with the same income. The second siren is plausible assumptions about how people behave. Keynesian economics requires that the government is able to systematically fool people again and again. It presumes that people don’t think about the future in making decisions today. Logical consistency and plausible foundations are indeed “beautiful” but to me they are also basic preconditions for “truth.”
Cochrane’s short paper is a really beautiful response to Krugman and his archaic, causality-reversing Keynsian answers to everything.
Paul, there was a financial crisis, a classic near-run on banks. The centerpiece of our crash was not the relatively free stock or real estate markets, it was the highly regulated commercial banks.
© 2009 Scott Wiersdorf