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The Deflationist
February 27, 2010 8:06 AM   Subscribe

The Deflationist - How Paul Krugman found politics.
posted by nevercalm (25 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Kind of an inscrutable title. Krugman is hardly a fan of deflation. Or is he supposed to be deflating people's egos?
posted by delmoi at 8:11 AM on February 27, 2010


When it is cold at home, or he has a couple of weeks with nothing to do but write his Times column, or when something unexpectedly stressful happens, like winning the Nobel Prize, the Princeton economist Paul Krugman and his wife, Robin Wells, go to St. Croix.

*bless*
posted by chavenet at 9:13 AM on February 27, 2010


Cool, he became an economist because of Asimov's Foundation books.
posted by octothorpe at 9:29 AM on February 27, 2010


From his NYT blog, Paul Krugman's public statement on winning the Nobel Prize...
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:53 AM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'd just like to point out that this photo caption:
Krugman and his wife, Robin Wells, at home with their cats, Doris Lessing and Albert Einstein.
is an excellent example (by its clarifying absence) of the importance of the serial comma.
posted by nicwolff at 9:56 AM on February 27, 2010 [34 favorites]


Oh,I see. I thought Krugman lived with his wife and some cats and Drris Lessing and Albert Einstein. I knew Einstein was at Priceton but I thought he had died. Good thing he makes a lot of money to support that gang.
posted by Postroad at 10:05 AM on February 27, 2010


Holy cow...he actually posted a LOLcat after receiving his Nobel Prize!?


The man has just gone up several notches in my esteem!
posted by darkstar at 10:07 AM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


Einstein gets residuals from Apple for the billboards. He's self-supporting.
posted by fourcheesemac at 10:28 AM on February 27, 2010


“Efforts to negotiate a resolution to Europe’s banana split had proved fruitless.”

It takes a certain kind of dedication to work puns like this into discussions of banana imports.
posted by akash at 10:29 AM on February 27, 2010 [3 favorites]


That's an awesome pun...
posted by KokuRyu at 10:37 AM on February 27, 2010


I am so of two minds about this article. The human interest/human disinterest stuff at the start about his vacation home reads like a borderline hatchet job, at least it does to this particular untippable populist, but the material later on when the author starts talking about his actual work is genuinely fascinating...
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 10:54 AM on February 27, 2010


I'm not a big fan of newspaper columnists (including Krugman), mostly because their chief goal is to attract and maintain newspaper readership, rather than identify and discuss truly good ideas, but Krugman redeems himself with this statement from the NYer article:

“Now that we have people whose goals I share in power, I’ve seen what it actually takes to make policy change happen,” Krugman says. “It’s pretty revelatory. It’s one thing to do opinion pieces about the way things ought to be; it’s another thing to think about, O.K., given the makeup of the U.S. Senate, given the difficulties of getting people on board and of communicating stuff to the public, what can you actually do?
posted by KokuRyu at 10:59 AM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kind of an inscrutable title. Krugman is hardly a fan of deflation.

There seems to be a usage of the term to describe people predicting deflation and thereby encouraging authorities to reflate their economies. The opposite inflationist position seems to hold that inflation or even hyperinflation is right around the corner unless we enact austere Misean policies yesterday. Thus, the term is actually correct as to usage, even though the article does not explain this.
posted by dhartung at 11:07 AM on February 27, 2010


The human interest/human disinterest stuff at the start about his vacation home reads like a borderline hatchet job

I didn't get that impression. We all know that, given the mind he has, Krugman could be rolling in the dough if he wanted to (see Rubin, Robert), but I felt like the article author portrayed his vacation home as a kind of humble little house, almost like your grandparents retiring to Florida.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 11:44 AM on February 27, 2010


Krugman kept me sane during the Bush years.
posted by Max Power at 11:59 AM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


..Krugman found Reagan comical rather than evil. “I had very little sense of what was at stake in the tax issues,” he says. “I was into career-building at that point and not that concerned.” He worked for Reagan on the staff of the Council of Economic Advisers for a year, but even that didn’t get him thinking about politics. “I feel now like I was sleepwalking through the twenty years before 2000,” he says. “I knew that there was a right-left division, I had a pretty good sense that people like Dick Armey were not good to have rational discussion with, but I didn’t really have a sense of how deep the divide went.

He knew there was a left-right division. He worked for Reagan. But he didn't think about politics?

One of these things is not like the others.
posted by three blind mice at 12:12 PM on February 27, 2010


I think Krugman really came into his own during the Bush years. Under Clinton, he had a sort of "well, yes, that's bad, but what can we do?" attitude that he supported with a lot of neoclassical ceteris parebus type arguments. But under Bush, his outrage drove him away from that passivity. I suspect that seeing how much bad can be accomplished with state power can make people realize that good can be accomplished with it too.

Of course, as KokuRyu points out, he recognizes that state power needs to be exercised within the strictures of the law.
posted by Jimmy Havok at 12:16 PM on February 27, 2010


Krugman could be rolling in the dough if he wanted to

I don't know what his current rates are, but about a decade ago when he was "just" an economics professor at Princeton he was charging tens of thousands of dollars for public speaking engagements. He could get a part-time gig as the Pillsbury Dough Boy after all the dough he's rolled through.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:17 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I have warm regard for Krugman personally, and I'm very grateful to him for saying the things he does where he does, but I can't help wishing I saw a bit more awareness on his part of the limits thermodynamics imposes upon economic activity (if only poor little Ludwig Boltzmann hadn't somehow managed to get his flea collar hung up on that cast iron gatepost...) and any ability at all to recognize evil when it's standing (right) in front of him.
posted by jamjam at 1:43 PM on February 27, 2010


Cool, he became an economist because of Asimov's Foundation books.

I think the truth of the assertion is revealed by his 1978 paper, The Theory of Interstellar Trade. (pdf) which is whimsical yet rigorous..

...a serious analysis of a ridiculous subject, which is of course the opposite of what is usual in economics.

posted by Jakey at 2:45 PM on February 27, 2010 [2 favorites]


I can't help wishing I saw a bit more awareness on his part of the limits thermodynamics imposes upon economic activity

Could you be clearer? Are you saying that we are approaching the limits of available energy within our local system?
posted by Jimmy Havok at 4:04 PM on February 27, 2010


In fact, the change came faster than either of them had anticipated, because during the primary campaign Krugman was very critical of Barack Obama. He was critical chiefly because, of the three main candidates, Obama seemed to him the most conservative (his health plan, for instance, didn’t mandate universal coverage), but it wasn’t just his policies that Krugman objected to. He couldn’t stand all the feel-good stuff about hope and dialogue and reconciliation. He hated that Obama was out there saying nice things about Reagan when what Democrats needed to do most was debunk the persistent myth that Reaganomics had been good for America. He thought Obama was completely wrong to believe that the country’s problems were due largely to partisan nastiness, and ridiculously naïve to imagine that he could bring together Republicans and insurance companies to reform health care. “Anyone who thinks that the next president can achieve real change without bitter confrontation is living in a fantasy world,” he wrote in 2007. Krugman supported John Edwards, for his emphasis on poverty, for his ambitious health-care plan, and for his rough talk about attacking the interests of the wealthy. After Edwards dropped out, he supported Hillary Clinton. She wasn’t as left as Edwards was, but at least she was a fighter, and she obviously had no illusions about bipartisan harmony.

But most people didn’t see Obama the way Krugman did; they thought he was the savior of the left, and the passions of the campaign were such that when Krugman wrote columns deriding Obama he was lacerated—scathing comments on the progressive blogs, more hate mail, and not the fun kind. “I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here,” Krugman wrote. “The Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality.” “OK, you did it,” one commenter wrote in response. “You lost me. I’ve defended you on local blogs but you’ve sunk into low territory.” “You’re devolving into a caricature with your gross misrepresentations and strident, ignorant defense of the Clinton campaign,” another wrote. “Paul, you’re killing a little bit of your readers’ souls,” a third wrote, “or at least those of us who used to love your column.” “The primary was terrible, it was awful,” Krugman says.


I had to copy this for posterity, the bloggers and blowhards who thought they should manipulate all others with their emoism when it was apparent to so many others what mattered most in that election.
posted by Brian B. at 4:41 PM on February 27, 2010 [5 favorites]


ah, but did he cover Nicholas van Rijn's theories on interstellar trade?
posted by infini at 5:51 PM on February 27, 2010


Last August, Krugman decided that before he and Wells departed for a bicycle tour of Scotland he would take a couple of days to speak at the sixty-seventh world science-fiction convention, to be held in Montreal. (Krugman has been a science-fiction fan since he was a boy.) At the convention, there was a lot of extremely long hair, a lot of blue hair, and a lot of capes. There was a woman dressed as a cat, there was a woman with a green brain attached to her head with wire, there was a person in a green face mask, there was a young woman spinning wool. There was a Jedi and a Storm Trooper....


I was actually there in the audience at WorldCon when Krugman spoke and contrary to what the reporter wrote, the vast majority were buttoned-down sober types who'd be as uncomfortable in a costume as a bear would be in pajamas.
posted by storybored at 6:04 PM on February 27, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was actually there in the audience at WorldCon when Krugman spoke and contrary to what the reporter wrote, the vast majority were buttoned-down sober types who'd be as uncomfortable in a costume as a bear would be in pajamas.

Yeah, but that doesn't make a good story.
posted by Justinian at 8:09 PM on February 27, 2010


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