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Why I don't read Paul Krugman [ClearOnMoney]
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Commentary

Why I don't read Paul Krugman

28 May 2013 by Jim Fickett.

Paul Krugman is an influential columnist with the NY Times, and it happens now and then that some reader urges me to read a Krugman column. When I first started to learn this business, I did read Krugman for a time, but I soon decided not to waste my time. The reason is that I care about the facts and I see little evidence that the facts matter to Krugman.

James Hamilton at Econbrowser recently gave a good example of Krugman's disregard for the facts. It all has to do with the policy question of austerity versus further stimulus. Krugman is a vocal critic of austerity, and the work of Reinhart and Rogoff has been used to support austerity. So in a recent article in the New York Times Review of Books (How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled) Krugman criticized Rienhart and Rogoff.

Despite their paper’s influence, Reinhart and Rogoff had not made their data widely available—and researchers working with seemingly comparable data hadn’t been able to reproduce their results.

As Hamilton shows, and as I've shown (Debt and GDP growth), there is certainly other work that strongly supports the main conclusions of Reinhart and Rogoff, so the claim that others “hadn't been able to reproduce their results” is at the very least highly misleading. And as Hamilton points out, Reinhart and Rogoff show in an open letter to Krugman that Krugman's first claim, “Reinhart and Rogoff had not made their data widely available” is completely untrue. In fact Reinhart and Rogoff put their data up on the web for anyone who cared to use it.

Reinhart and Rogoff used the Wayback Machine to get a copy of Carmen Reinhart's web page exactly as it appeared to the world in October 2010. Try it yourself– you can click on the links to download whatever spreadsheet you like, or you can use the Wayback Machine to find versions that were publicly reported as of various historical dates (both at Reinhart's own page, as well as the database's subsequent migration to the public website for their book).

Whenever I have tried to follow up on claims from Krugman that I found surprising, I have found that the facts did not match up with his claims.

Since Krugman's name is rarely mentioned without some reference to a “Nobel prize”, this might be a good time to recall that the so-called “Nobel prize” in economics has nothing to do with the prizes instituted by Alfred Nobel (Nobel trademark infringement).