...against fictions and other tall tales

Thursday, 25 April 2013

A kind word for Paul

Paul Krugman's recent posts on the abuse use by politicians of economic studies as a way to support ideologically-driven fiscal austerity have been right on. Here's from his latest:
...the important story isn’t about the sins of the economists; it’s about our warped economic discourse, in which important people seize on academic work that fits their preconceptions. Even if you don’t think Reinhart-Rogoff made much difference to actual policy, the meteoric rise and catastrophic fall of their reputation speaks volumes about why this slump goes on and on.
I made a similar point in an earlier column when I wrote that austerity was a
...prepackaged "solution to a problem" that fits with today's dominant policy-making ideology, which holds that governments have little or no purpose other than catering to financial interests and leaving the path clear for free-market actors to find solutions to every problem facing society.
...[F]iscal austerity is simply another example of a "solution looking for a problem", an empty and empirically ineffectual idea with no clear rationale other than giving the appearance that "something is being done".
This is why I continue to think that the ones who are really responsible for austerity are the politicians who support this view. Economic studies were used to provide cover for these leaders' preferred set of policy choices.

Anyway, there's no matching Prof. Krugman's performance these last few months. Not only have his forecasts been right on, but his retrospective look at why things unfolded the way they did has been downright flawless.

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