October 25, 2010
It’s Shut-Up Time for Paul Krugman
Jeremy Warner, assistant editor of The Daily Telegraph and prominent British economics journalist, has a message for liberal economist Paul Krugman: Please shut up. The occasion for the remark — and come on, we’ve all been thinking it — was Krugman’s recent and wholly unsolicited criticism of Britain’s deficit reduction plan.
Professor Krugman suggests that Britain has nothing to fear from excessive public debt, which is still as things stand below its long run historical average. He’s technically right about this, but like a lot of statistics used to support a particular, ideological position, it’s completely meaningless. Looking at the path of UK public debt as a percentage of GDP, there have indeed been quite long periods when it has been much higher than it is now, but these periods mainly coincided with prolonged and all embracing war — first the Napoleonic wars, then later the Boer war and the first world war. Britain had barely recovered from the financial consequences of the first world war by the time the second world war hit.
The big point missed by those who think elevated public debt doesn’t matter is that these periods of excessive debt utterly crippled the UK economy. Indeed, Britain’s decline through the twentieth century as an economic superpower directly correlates with increased indebtedness.
While it may not matter to his fans (or the Nobel Committee), Krugman doesn’t have the best track record on economic matters. He’s fine fodder for comedy, though:
[My thanks to the gods of Reddit for the image.]
Crisis Magazine Comments Policy
This is a Catholic forum. As such:
- All comments must directly address the article. “I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter.” (Matthew 12:36)
- No profanity, ad hominems, hot tempers, or racial or religious invectives. “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32)
- We will not tolerate heresy, calumny, or attacks upon our Holy Mother Church or Holy Father. “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)
- Keep it brief. No lengthy rants or block quotes. “For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” (James 4:14)
- If you see a comment that doesn’t meet our standards, please flag it so a moderator may remove it. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.” (Galatians 6:1)
- All comments may be removed at the moderators’ discretion. “But of that day and hour no one knows…” (Matthew 24:36)
- Crisis isn’t responsible for the content of the comments box. Comments do not represent the views of Crisis magazine, its editors, authors, or publishers. “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God… So each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:10, 12)