Shrill? Part Deux.

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

As I assemble this the DOW is once again down over 200 points and the question is whether it will remain above 11,000 at the close.

Rates of Wrath

August 4, 2011, 11:41 am

The US 10-year bond rate is now down to 2.5%. So much for those bond vigilantes. What this rate is saying is that markets are pricing in terrible economic performance, quite possibly a double dip. And it also says that Washington’s deficit obsession has been utterly, totally wrong-headed.

Meanwhile, Italy’s spread against German bonds is soaring even further. What are markets pricing in here? Default as a real possibility; maybe even euro breakup. The latter certainly sounds a lot more plausible now than it did a few months ago.

The Wrong Worries

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: August 4, 2011

Consider one crucial measure, the ratio of employment to population. In June 2007, around 63 percent of adults were employed. In June 2009, the official end of the recession, that number was down to 59.4. As of June 2011, two years into the alleged recovery, the number was: 58.2.

And why should we be surprised at this catastrophe? Where was growth supposed to come from? Consumers, still burdened by the debt that they ran up during the housing bubble, aren’t ready to spend. Businesses see no reason to expand given the lack of consumer demand. And thanks to that deficit obsession, government, which could and should be supporting the economy in its time of need, has been pulling back.

Those plunging interest rates and stock prices say that the markets aren’t worried about either U.S. solvency or inflation. They’re worried about U.S. lack of growth. And they’re right, even if on Wednesday the White House press secretary chose, inexplicably, to declare that there’s no threat of a double-dip recession.

The point is that it’s now time – long past time – to get serious about the real crisis the economy faces. The Fed needs to stop making excuses, while the president needs to come up with real job-creation proposals.

This might or might not work. But we already know what isn’t working: the economic policy of the past two years – and the millions of Americans who should have jobs, but don’t.

You know, it’s just a stinking Nobel Prize in Economics.  This guy knows nothing.

Pulling Rank

August 5, 2011, 9:12 am

I’ll pass the specific arguments by, and note another feature of this “debate” that has struck me a lot during recent economic controversies: the way Williamson tries to settle the argument by pulling rank, portraying Quiggin as some kind of obscure and unqualified guy.

It’s funny in this case, because Quiggin is in fact a prominent economist, Williamson not so much. But even if this weren’t true, that’s no way to argue. Which is why it has been so sad to see how common this kind of argument has been in recent years.

I don’t have time right now to track down all the examples, but if you look at how many freshwater macroeconomists have responded to Keynesian arguments in this crisis, you find over and over again that they resort to assertions of privilege – basically, I am a famous macroeconomic expert and you aren’t – rather than really addressing the issues. And this is so ingrained a response, apparently, that they use it in situations where it’s truly ridiculous: Lucas accusing Christy Romer of not understanding basic macro, then demonstrating that he doesn’t understand Ricardian equivalence; Barro belittling the credentials of yours truly, just after forgetting that there was rationing and investment controls during World War II.


  1. For every economist like Paul Krugman or Robert Reich or Dean Baker, there are 10,000 corporate shills screaming “Lower taxes! Less regulation!”

    Who wins?

    And what’s the one and only “issue” that the public could conceivably understand?



    Forget the fine print!  

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