Você está na página 1de 1
DEBATING POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND OTHER TIMELY TOPICS WITH PAUL KRUGMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
DEBATING POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND OTHER TIMELY TOPICS WITH PAUL KRUGMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
DEBATING POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND OTHER TIMELY TOPICS WITH PAUL KRUGMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
DEBATING POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND OTHER TIMELY TOPICS WITH PAUL KRUGMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
DEBATING POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND OTHER TIMELY TOPICS WITH PAUL KRUGMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
DEBATING POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND OTHER TIMELY TOPICS WITH PAUL KRUGMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
DEBATING POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND OTHER TIMELY TOPICS WITH PAUL KRUGMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
DEBATING POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND OTHER TIMELY TOPICS WITH PAUL KRUGMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
DEBATING POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND OTHER TIMELY TOPICS WITH PAUL KRUGMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES
DEBATING POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND OTHER TIMELY TOPICS WITH PAUL KRUGMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES

DEBATING POLITICS, ECONOMICS AND OTHER TIMELY TOPICS WITH PAUL KRUGMAN OF THE NEW YORK TIMES

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 12, 2016

PAUL KRUGMAN

The Stakes Are High, So Consider the Evidence

If you are still on the fence about the Democratic primary, or still persuadable, you should know that Vox recently interviewed a number of political scientists about the electability of Senator Bernie Sanders, and got responses rang-

ing from warnings about a steep uphill climb to predictions of a McGovern-Nixon-style blowout defeat (read the article here: bit. ly/1RaHZe5). And all of these po- litical scientists dismiss current polls as being meaningless. You are, of course, free to dis- agree with them. But you need to carefully explain why you dis- agree. What evidence do you have that suggests that these scholars’ con- clusions — which are based on his- tory and data, not just gut feelings — are wrong? There are two unacceptable answers that I’m sure will pop up again and again from readers. One is to dismiss all such analyses as the product of corruption — they’re all bought and paid for by Wall Street, for instance, or the analysts are just looking for a job in Hillary Clinton’s administration. No, they aren’t. The other answer is to say that you’re willing to take a chance on Mr. Sanders because Mrs. Clinton would be just as bad as a Repub- lican. That’s what Ralph Nader’s supporters said about Al Gore in 2000; how’d that work out?

I have some views of my own,

clearly, but I’m not a political scien- tist — I just read political scientists and take their work very seriously. What I do bring to this debate, I hope, is an awareness of two kinds of sin that can corrupt political discussion. The first, and more obvious,

corrupt political discussion. The first, and more obvious, TODD HEISLER/THE NEW YORK TIMES Hillary Clinton and

TODD HEISLER/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the Democratic presidential candidates, shaking hands at a debate in New Hampshire this month.

sin involves actually selling one’s views. And that does happen, of course. But what happens even more, in my experience, is an intellectual sin whose effects can be equally as bad: self-indulgence. By this I mean believing things,

and advocating for policies, be- cause you like the story rather than because you have any good evi- dence that it’s true. I’ve spent a lot of time over the years going after this sort of thinking on the right, where things like the claim that for- mer Representative Barney Frank

somehow caused the financial crisis so often prevail in the teeth of overwhelming evidence. But it can happen on the left, too — which is why, for example, I’m still very cautious about claims that inequality is bad for growth. On Mr. Sanders’s electability, by

all means consider the evidence and reach your own conclusions. But do consider the evidence — don’t decide what you want to believe and then make up justifica- tions. The stakes are too high for that, and history will not forgive you.

READER COMMENTS FROM NYTIMES.COM

An Unpredictable Election Cycle

We shouldn’t take political scientists’ predictions quite so seriously this year.

We’ve already witnessed multi- ple examples of this election cycle’s unpredictability.

— MATT J., TEXAS

According to polls, Hillary Clinton has the highest unfavor- ability ratings among candidates from both parties, with the ex- ception of Donald Trump.

So anyone who thinks that Mrs. Clinton might be more “electable” than Senator Bernie Sanders is mistaken. The results from the Iowa caucuses proved that Mr. Sanders has more support than

Mrs. Clinton among groups like independent-leaning liberals and voters under the age of 30. Support from those demographic groups will be critical in the gen- eral election later this year.

— NAME WITHHELD, CALIFORNIA

I support Mr. Sanders, but if he loses, I’ll vote for Mrs. Clinton and enthusiastically support her.

— JOHN F. MCBRIDE, WASHINGTON

Perhaps America needs anoth- er “Roosevelt reset.” As presi- dents, both Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt did what was seemingly impossible.

Both were able to regain control

of the country after it had been captured by elites. In doing so, they likely saved capitalism. These days, the United States seems primed for another reset. If we get it, perhaps the nation will

miraculously survive again. If not, who knows?

— WILLIAM BUCHANAN, OREGON

I have two problems with the

term “unelectable.”

First, it presumes that elections are predictable, when in reality anything can happen. What I espe- cially hate, though, is the pretense to knowledge, even in the face of contrary evidence. For instance, people who never predicted the

rise of Mr. Trump continue to argue that they have the foresight to de- clare Mr. Sanders unelectable. My second problem is that the term unelectable connotes a sense of entitlement. It’s usually the out- siders who are deemed unelectable — people like Margaret Thatcher and Jeremy Corbyn in Britain, for instance. Establishment figures, however, are rarely described as being unelectable because there’s a presumption that elections can only be won by particular types of people — youngish, good-looking politicans who went to the right schools, for instance.

— NYE HUGHES, BRITAIN

Mr. Krugman, you are trying to do two things simultaneously, and your arguments aren’t work- ing.

On the one hand, you are posing

as a realist who is driven solely by the facts. On the other, you are launching one-sided attacks on Mr. Sanders and his supporters with- out acknowledging any flaws in Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy. If you truly want to convince some of Mr. Sanders’s supporters to vote for Mrs. Clinton, you’re going to have to be honest about her shortcomings and about the corruption of the electoral system. Only then can you effectively argue that we should support her because Mr. Sanders is too big a risk.

— DONALD, NEW YORK

ONLINE: COMMENTS Comments have been edited for clarity and length. For Paul Krugman’s latest thoughts and to join the debate online, visit his blog at krugman.blogs. nytimes.com.

BACKSTORY

Sanders Gains More Momentum

Senator Bernie Sanders won the Democratic presidential primary in New Hampshire on Feb. 9, besting for- mer Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by a substantial margin. Mr. Sanders’s win comes a little more than a week af- ter he and Mrs. Clinton effectively tied in the Iowa caucuses (Mrs. Clinton was declared the winner by a razor-thin margin). The recent rise of Mr. Sanders’s pop- ularity has come as a surprise to many political analysts. A self-described “democratic socialist,” the candidate has repeatedly called for a “political revolution” to challenge the influence of wealthy interests in American pol- itics. Mr. Sanders supports a national jobs program, free college tuition and a government-funded health care system akin to those in Canada and Europe. Amid Mr. Sanders’s early success- es, however, some commentators have expressed worry that the Democrat- ic Party could condemn itself to a land- slide defeat in the general election if it were to nominate Mr. Sanders, whose politics fall well to the left of tradition- al Democratic candidates. And even though Mr. Sanders is polling more strongly than Mrs. Clinton in head- to-head matchups against Republican candidates, some experts believe that this is because Mr. Sanders has not yet been subjected to the kinds of at- tacks that Mrs. Clinton has endured for many years. Mr. Sanders’s prospects are some- times compared to those of George McGovern, a presidential nominee fa- vored by the activist left of the Demo- cratic Party in 1972. Mr. McGovern lost to Republican Richard Nixon in one of the largest defeats in presidential his- tory. Other analysts have compared Mr. Sanders to Barry Goldwater, a very conservative Republican who lost the 1964 presidential election in a land- slide to Lyndon B. Johnson. In a recent interview with Vox, Jede- diah Purdy, a Duke University profes- sor who specializes in political identity, explained that “Goldwater’s move- ment campaign and the lessons main- stream Republicans took from it af- terward made [Ronald] Reagan’s campaign possible in 1980 by rearrang- ing the whole political landscape.” But he cautioned that “Sanders is trying to achieve realignment much more quick- ly than that. In terms of the sudden- ness and degree of his break with the mainstream, he looks like Goldwater in 1964 more than like Reagan.”

PAUL KRUGMAN

What the Bond Markets Are Telling Us

While Americans obsess over domestic politics — not that there’s anything wrong with that, since a lot depends on whether the next leader of the world’s most powerful nation

is a racist xenophobe, a sinister theocrat, an empty suit or all of the above — something scary is going on in financial markets, where bond prices in particular are indicating near panic.

I know, the wisdom of crowds is

often overrated — the economist Paul Samuelson once famously quipped that the stock market had predicted nine of the last five recessions. But bond markets are a bit less flighty than stocks, and also more closely tied to the broader economic outlook. (A weak economy has mixed effects

on stocks — low profits but also low interest rates — while it has an unambiguous effect on bonds.) And what plunging rates tell us is that markets are expecting very weak economies, and possibly deflation for years to come, if not a full-blown crisis. Among other things, such a world would be a very bad place to elect a member of a political party that has spent the past sev-

en years inveighing against both fiscal and monetary stimulus, and has learned nothing from the utter failure of its predictions to come true.

Structural Humbug Revisited

Bryan Caplan, an economics professor at George Mason Uni- versity, recently reported that he

won a bet with fellow professor and economist Tyler Cowen over whether the unemployment rate would ever drop below 5 percent in the United States. It might be worth remembering the context of their bet. When the Great Recession struck in 2008 — a demand-side shock if ever there was one — it took no time at all for a strange consensus to develop among elites to the effect that a large part of the rise in unemploy- ment was “structural,” and that it could not be reversed simply through a recovery in demand. Workers just didn’t have the right skills, the argument went. Many of us argued at length that this was a foolish notion. If skills were the problem, where

were the occupations with rap- idly rising wages? I pointed out that people used to say the same thing during the Great Depres- sion, only to see their argument disproved when we finally got a big fiscal stimulus called World War II. But the doctrine somehow just got stronger and stronger in elite circles, because it sounded serious and judicious, unlike the seemingly frivolous proposition that all we needed was more spending. In fact, the notion that our unemployment problem in the United States was mainly structural began to be presented as a simple fact rather than as a hypothesis most professional economists rejected. And here we are.

most professional economists rejected. And here we are. KEVIN HAGEN/THE NEW YORK TIMES Traders working on

KEVIN HAGEN/THE NEW YORK TIMES

Traders working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange last month. Investors are increasingly concerned about a weakening global economy.

Paul Krugman joined The New York Times in 1999 as a columnist on the Op-Ed page and continues as a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University. He was awarded the Nobel in economic science in 2008. Mr. Krugman is the author or editor of 21 books and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes. His latest book is “End This Depression Now!”

and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes. His latest book is “End
and more than 200 papers in professional journals and edited volumes. His latest book is “End

READER COMMENTS FROM NYTIMES.COM

Should We Expect a Crisis?

Of course, Republicans and their various doomsayers have no solu- tions to offer when it comes to economic turmoil. The best that they can come up with is: “We’re gonna die folks!”

That said, any solution that the G.O.P. might put forward would likely accelerate the economic down- turn. My own doomsayer prediction is this: A Republican win in this year’s presidential election will spark a ma- jor depression in the United States, and struggling economies around the world will fall like dominoes.

The Republicans handed us this problem in 2008, but these days they want to blame everything on Presi- dent Obama. On the other hand, Democrats are once again shooting themselves in the foot by allowing this ridiculous battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders to continue. Mr. Sanders is not going to save the day folks! Once he demonstrates that he is a strong enough contender to gain the Democratic nomination, the G.O.P. will go after him hard, as will the media. Mrs. Clinton has the ability, expe-

rience and intelligence to stand up to a seriously disabled Congress.

— HAROLD, FLORIDA

Rational fiscal policy requires that Congress cooperate with the

president. But can either Demo- cratic presidential contender gen- erate enough voter enthusiasm to replace the Republican majorities in the House and Senate?

— E., MASSACHUSETTS

My fear is that if a Republican president is elected this year, he will finally try to pass a real fiscal stimulus bill.

Of course, the stimulus wouldn’t be used to rebuild our infrastruc- ture. It would involve massive mili- tary spending, which would likely

escalate tensions in the Middle East, or perhaps on the Korean Peninsula.

— S., NEW YORK

Together with the European Union establishment, Republicans caused today’s global output gap by implementing idiotic austerity measures after the 2008 financial crisis.

NAME WITHHELD, FLORIDA

The likely outcome of the No- vember election will be a Demo- crat winning the White House and the Senate flipping back to the Democrats.

Flipping the House of Represen- tatives will take longer, but it is my sincere hope that independents and liberals hang in for the long haul.

This is the only way to finally eradi- cate movement conservatism from the national stage.

— PAUL LEIGHTY, WASHINGTON STATE

The lastest slump all started with Europe, the euro and auster-

ity. A faltering European market for Chinese exports crippled the Chi- nese economy, which then crippled other developing economies. The only bright spot in the world economy was the United States, but the country has now been hit by a falloff in aggregate demand. And it looks like the Federal Re- serve made a mistake in raising in- terest rates too early. If Fed officials had a lick of common sense, they would admit their error.

— DAVID, NEW ZEALAND