The FT’s editorial today with a balanced call for austerity in Europa was surprising and disappointing, given all the writings of Martin Wolf and others in the paper before. Today Brad de Long take charge at the ed and discuss why it is that people who should know better fall in the “austerity trap”. He points out that even Milton Friedman would have to to stabilize nominal GDP and buy stuff for until inflation and growth are reestablished on a sustainable path.Well written.
Also included are the response from Paul Krugman which is even better, and probably well to the mark (still scary):
My best theory here is that it’s political and sociological: conservative-leaning economists who should know better are driven by peer pressure to suppress their better instincts.
Think about Greg Mankiw and inflation. Early on in the Lesser Depression Greg came out for inflation — fairly high inflation! — as the solution, to give us negative real interest rates. But he encountered a firestorm of criticism from his political allies — and went silent.
The point is that even among academics with tenure and established reputations, there is apparently enough leverage in the hands of the enforcers of right-wing orthodoxy that they end up bowing to the reign of error.
As for Rachman: I think this is a subtler form of peer pressure. And for what it’s worth, Ryan Avent has already written the devastating reply to Rachman I haven’t had time for because I’m on Reddit!