If you didn’t catch it, Krugman on Newsnight last night is a must-see. How wonderful it was to finally watch the ignorant Conservative dogma about the alleged nonsense of ‘spending your way out of a recession’ exposed for what it is: pop-intuition driven by the desire for convincing slogans, not based on the discoveries of rigorous research. It could only have been topped if the Tory they’d put out to defend the government’s categorical commitment to austerity, even in the face of definitive proof of its counterproductive impact, was Louise Mensch, the Platonic Form of the the devout, blind backbencher.
Still, they were more than confident that the Nobel Laureate was an utter imbecile and their complete absence of equivalent experience in the science of economics rendered their insight infinitely better. No wonder Paxman kept smirking.
You may think there’s an epistemic issue here. Namely, why put my faith in a man’s claims when the majority of the financial world espouses the opposite view? I am, after all, happy to confess little expertise in this area.
I guess it’s three things. First, reading his blog religiously, I have more than enough reason to think he is alert to and responsive to the data as and when it arrives, and barely gives off the impression of a pre-conceived ideology irrespective of the facts in the way that most politicians unfortunately do. Second, he’s been proved right. Two years ago everyone said that austerity would inspire confidence and expand the economy. He said it would exacerbate the recession. The latter transpired. Anyone can see this. And third, from the basic economic knowledge I did pick up from Prelims, what Krugman writes and invokes to justify his prescriptions fits precisely what I was taught in macro. This stuff about cutting government expenditure in a recession leading to growth? Not a hint of it in textbooks.
Oh, one other thing – is he a living embodiment of the calmness and consideration I mentioned yesterday in the post on reasonable pluralism, or what? His ability to refute false claims with composure and never even border on polemical insult is barely human. In print, this can sometimes not be the case. But Krugman the TV pundit is a model for us all.