Jeff Sachs has had some really puzzling columns criticizing Krugman lately, most recently on Huffington Post (HT Grant McDermott).
I remarked before on how odd the Scarborough/Sachs piece was, particularly how they:
1. Noted that Krugman said just a few years ago deficits could be bad
2. Noted that now he says they are good, and then
3. Accused Krugman of forgetting that non-crude Keynesianism thinks deficits are sometimes bad and sometimes good, apparently immediately forgetting their own citation of Krugman calling deficits bad in their own damn column.
DeLong has more on that here with this excellent summation (apparently what they link to is damning as well): "You do not say "X says Y" and then cite to a work in which "X says not Y". You simply do not do that."
It honestly does seem like a bad joke rather than an argument.
This Huffington Post column has even more of this sort of thing. As I said to Grant McDermott, it's not bad analysis per se (although I would argue a little too conservative on the fiscal side of things) - but it's awful as criticism of Krugman. They knock Krugman as a crude Keynesian by criticizing temporary tax cuts - but this is a Krugman point (here and here, and almost certainly lots of other places). They talk about how things would really be better if we had more government expenditures and investment rather than transfer payments and tax cuts - but this is a Krugman point (here and here, and almost certainly lots of other places including his review of some of John Taylor's work). They tie him to CBO projections which they call "Keynesian" (which is odd - how is forecasting related to Keynesian macro? - forecasting is its own field with its own methods), even though he thought the projections were too pessimistic early on because we were dealing with a financial crisis and a liquidity trap.
The two areas where there probably is real disagreement with Krugman and Sachs is the claim that there's a structural component to this and the disagreement over how much debt to worry about. Sachs may have a point on the structural issue, but I'd have to know more about how potential GDP is calculated to say. Krugman dealt with the deficit issue very effectively yesterday I thought, and also made the point that it is growth rather than rising debt that is going to introduce more interest burden down the line. With the examples of Napoleonic Britain, the world wars, and modern Japan in front of me I have a very hard time budging from Krugman's position on this point.
So Sachs may have a point on the structural issue and that may require some non-Keynesian policy thinking in addition to the solutions to the demand problem, but his deficit hysteria is clearly misplaced and the rest of the column is pure Krugman.
I hate to bring more undue attention to him, but this is just like John Papola talking about how the problem is excess demand for money and then championing Say rather than Malhus, or saying investment is the problem and not consumption but then trashing Keynes.
One wonders what is going on inside their heads when they write stuff like this. It's like they don't want to be associated with these people even when they agree with them because... because I don't know why. You don't have to even call yourself a Keynesian if you don't want to, but at least don't talk like this is antithetical to Keynes or Krugman.
Procrastinating on April 24, 2017
1 hour ago