Cochrane vs Krugman

16. septembris, 2008


Vjačeslavs Dombrovskis

Many may have seen Krugman's "How Did Economists Get It so Wrong?" in the New York Times Magazine. However, a recent reply by John Cochrane 's (Chicago University) "Why did Paul Krugman get it so Wrong?" is probably less known.

I’ve never seen (or heard) of a Nobel laureate being thrashed like this. However, I think Cochrane is right. Krugman went too far in his carpet-bombing-style criticism of the macroeconomics profession. His Nobel prize was granted, after all, for the work done in 1970s and 1980s in international trade theory, not in macroeconomics.

I think there is something very dangerous and addictive about having too much of the public’s attention. Like a drug, It makes one crave for more, even if one, as Cochrane puts it, has “run out of ideas”. There is temptation to be continuously in the spotlight that is extremely hard to resist. Maybe indulging in it too much makes you say things you wish you didn’t say. As a local example, take Mr. Smirnovs, an otherwise quiet guy from Ventspils. He said something at a wrong place and wrong time, got arrested because of foolishness of certain people, and woke up famous. Look at the effect it had on his behavior. I don’t think he would have come up with so many crazy statements were he not to taste attention of the crowds.

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