The Right Coast

Editor: Thomas A. Smith
University of San Diego
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Revenge of the Reality-Based Community | The American Conservative

I’ve paid a heavy price, both personal and financial, for my evolution from comfortably within the Republican Party and conservative movement to a less than comfortable position somewhere on the center-left. Honest to God, I am not a liberal or a Democrat. But these days, they are the only people who will listen to me. When Republicans and conservatives once again start asking my opinion, I will know they are on the road to recovery.


Bruce Bartlett's interesting evolution. --TS

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Note well this portion:

"After careful research along these lines, I came to the annoying conclusion that Keynes had been 100 percent right in the 1930s. Previously, I had thought the opposite. But facts were facts and there was no denying my conclusion. It didn’t affect the argument in my book, which was only about the rise and fall of ideas. The fact that Keynesian ideas were correct as well as popular simply made my thesis stronger.

"I finished the book just as the economy was collapsing in the fall of 2008. This created another intellectual crisis for me. Having just finished a careful study of the 1930s, it was immediately obvious to me that the economy was suffering from the very same problem, a lack of aggregate demand. We needed Keynesian policies again, which completely ruined my nice rise-and-fall thesis. Keynesian ideas had arisen from the intellectual grave."


And note also this:

"For the record, no one has been more correct in his analysis and prescriptions for the economy’s problems than Paul Krugman. The blind hatred for him on the right simply pushed me further away from my old allies and comrades." ...

"The economy continues to conform to textbook Keynesianism. We still need more aggregate demand, and the Republican idea that tax cuts for the rich will save us becomes more ridiculous by the day."

Posted by: keynesian | Nov 26, 2012 7:12:44 PM

I saw that. Which makes me wonder -- going forward, is there anything that could happen that would falsify Keynesian theory? If not, that's obviously a problem. If so, I want to know it when I see it.

Posted by: Tom Smith | Nov 27, 2012 8:03:22 AM

It's so strange that conservatives hate Krugman. He's such a nice, genial, even-tempered guy. Surely they wouldn't hold it against ol' Paul that, in addition to calling conservative economists idiots, he blames conservatives generally for shooting sprees by schizophrenics and calls them "eliminationists" (i.e., Nazis). It's all out of love, after all. The guy's all heart.

Also kind of strange that Bartlett lost all of his conservative friends (except the "conservatives" at American Obamacon, er, I mean, American Conservative) after he called them all hacks and frauds. These conservatives - so touchy. Bartlett sure is brave, willing to take a lonely stand out in the cold with his barefoot, leftwing friends in McLean and Chevy Chase. Pretty inspriring, just like the rhetoric from Obama's fratboy ghostwriter.

Posted by: djf | Nov 27, 2012 3:19:36 PM

I think if there were a positive correlation in the next two years between the amount of "austerity" (budget cutting) practiced in industrialized nations and their rate of growth, that would weigh against Keyensianism. OTOH, if the correlation was negative, that would support it. So far, the correlation is negative. Even the IMF has started to notice this...and is starting to admit that the multiplier may be substantially larger than they had been willing to admit.

Once countries get out of the liquidity trap, we would no longer expect the relationship to hold, or at least not as strongly.

As for Krugman, he has a right to be saying he told us so, because he did. And just as people who predicted a Romney blowout now have reduced credibility, so too those economists who predicted over and over for the past three years or more that we'd have wild inflation any minute now deserve scorn, and decreased attention. It may not be considered polite in right-wing circles to point out when people are just plain wrong over and over again -- chaps so often fail up if they are monied, or married to money, or know the right chaps -- but there it is.

(You may now resume the name-calling and puerile insults.)

Posted by: keynesian | Nov 27, 2012 6:19:14 PM


Arguably Japan's deficit spending in the 90s after its debt implosion was Keynesian. It was considered a lost decade. The problem with trying to disprove Keynesianism from that is that it is quite plausible that without deficit spending things would have been worse, and that additional deficit spending that generated inflation would have been better.

You are kind of hitting the crux of the problem with economic policy though. They really should try it on rats first.

Posted by: molly | Nov 28, 2012 7:53:09 AM

If we continue to spend hugely, and continue to run gigantic deficits, with a bigger and bigger debt, but economic growth rates do not improve, does that count as evidence against Keynesianism, or just as evidence that deficits should have been even bigger? If low or no growth under these policies does not falsify or at least increase skepticism of Keynesianism, that is a serious methodological problem.

Posted by: Tom Smith | Nov 28, 2012 2:45:07 PM