On this final episode of Contra Krugman after nearly five years, we analyze Krugman's horrified response to state reopenings after the lockdowns.
With his usual magnanimity, Krugman declares that the epidemiologists have been completely accurate in their warnings during the pandemic, whereas those who want to reopen the economy are trying to kill workers. Tom and Bob beg to differ.
In his attempt to praise Powell and criticize Trump, Krugman admits that the "real economy" is in terrible shape, and that the stock market has done well only because of low interest rates and the Fed's emergency actions. Krugman says this pattern holds not only for our post-covid world, but ever since the mid-2000s. He thus ironically agrees with Austrian critics who've warned for years that the Fed was blowing up massive asset bubbles.
Krugman is unhappy that the "right wing" is more apt to listen to people he considers quacks than to people he considers experts, and he says the COVID-19 problem is yet another example. We are unconvinced.
Guest co-host Richard Ebeling -- who was one of Bob's own economics professors -- joins me to discuss Krugman's qualified support for the $2 trillion coronavirus relief bill recently signed into law, and why we shouldn't be cheering.
This episode delves into all the key questions surrounding the economics of the coronavirus crisis: bailouts, Federal Reserve policy, payments to individuals, the effects of the shutdown, and more.
In a perhaps surprising move for someone who said "deficits matter again" upon Trump's election, Krugman now makes the case for perpetual budget deficits in the range of 4% of GDP. This will facilitate much-needed "stimulus spending" in an era of weak growth and low inflation. Tom and Bob point out the fallacies in this thinking.
What really matters, says Krugman, is financial regulation. And only Elizabeth Warren can deliver, because Bernie will expend his political capital on unwinnable issues, and Bloomberg's heart isn't in it. We respond, as usual.
Krugman complains that during the Obama years, when deficit spending was desperately needed, obstructionist Republicans opposed it out of what they claimed was principle, but was mere spite. Now, he says, with a Republican in the White House, they couldn't care less about deficits. What's really going on here? That's our topic for this episode.
Krugman says Greta Thunberg is closer the economics mainstream than are her critics. Quite a few whoppers to deal with in this one, as you can surely imagine.
That's Krugman's message now. Interestingly, back in 2003 the very indicators he's now using to tell us not to worry were actually less pronounced, and yet back then he was warning of a "fiscal train wreck." In any case, today we discuss what the genuine problems with the deficit are, and why it makes perfect sense to be concerned about it.
Show notes for Ep. 215
Krugman blames the "austerity" that began a decade ago for ensuing economic ills and political instability. This is a fashionable enough view, but the evidence against it is more or less overwhelming. Enjoy!
Show notes for Ep. 214