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Old 12-24-2011, 01:05 PM   #176
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Originally Posted by ianlippert View Post
I agree with BDDVO, the deflationist Austrians like mish have the best of both worlds in their view and are better to listen to.
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Old 12-24-2011, 01:37 PM   #177
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Originally Posted by ianlippert View Post
Thinking that the solution to a debt crisis is more debt is way worse than not predicting a liquidity trap. If the crisis cannot be resolved until the debt is liquidated then you will always be able to predict that the debt stimulus "wasn't enough". In addition Krugman is notorious for selectively picking posts that make it seem like he predicted things. I don't hate everything he says but when it comes to solutions he's not really at the top of the macro economic game. Search me in the other thread for some better critiques.

I agree with BDDVO, the deflationist Austrians like mish have the best of both worlds in their view and are better to listen to.

The main point is that just cause you made some predictions that seem true it doesn't increase your chances of predicting the next macroeconomic Movements, the economy is simply too complex to maintain a consistent track record.
Sigh. You seem pretty sure of this. What were you sure of back in 2008?

What if because of a particular set of circumstances, the best solution to our private debt crisis is an increase in public debt? What assumptions would you have to make to make that statement true? Try thinking of debt as a tool absent the moral judgment that assumes that debt is bad. As Krugman is wont to say "Economics is not a morality play."
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Old 12-24-2011, 01:38 PM   #178
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Krugman correctly called the liquidity trap conditions we are currently experiencing back in 2008, complete with (gasp) models and math and the like which predicted that the Fed would run into the zero bound and could literally not print enough money via QE to do anything but barely stave off a deflationary spiral let alone cause hyperinflation. Moreover he correctly called the 2010 commodity price surge as demand side pressure from emerging economies rather than a precursor to general inflation, looks to have been right about the effect of fiscal austerity in Europe (austerity led expansions are not possible, see Ireland and the UK), and has been yelling from the rooftops that the problem with the Eurozone periphery is not fiscal profligacy but a balance of payments problem that will be next to impossible to solve if those countries retain the Euro.

I would expect at some point a bit of circumspection from his critics would be called for, at the very least they should stop dismissing him as Krugtard and start thinking about a world in which he might actually be right.
The fed could certainly print more. It's always possible to print more. They are constrained politically. Because of this Krugman is yelling for more spending, but that is also constrained politically. Further, even if the government did spend more, it is likely that the Fed would tighten given the political constraints. Why does Krugman say we can't rely on monetary solutions due to political constraints while espousing fiscal solutions while ignoring those very same constraints?

Also the article in the OP is clearly incorrect. If it were true, how does any new industry get started?
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Old 12-24-2011, 01:51 PM   #179
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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The fed could certainly print more. It's always possible to print more. They are constrained politically. Because of this Krugman is yelling for more spending, but that is also constrained politically. Further, even if the government did spend more, it is likely that the Fed would tighten given the political constraints. Why does Krugman say we can't rely on monetary solutions due to political constraints while espousing fiscal solutions while ignoring those very same constraints?

Also the article in the OP is clearly incorrect. If it were true, how does any new industry get started?
Well I guess this is correct if you call the Fed's insistence on targeting inflation rather than nominal GDP/employment levels a political constraint, but it really isn't one in the sense that more Fiscal expansion is.
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Old 12-24-2011, 02:14 PM   #180
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Well I guess this is correct if you call the Fed's insistence on targeting inflation rather than nominal GDP/employment levels a political constraint, but it really isn't one in the sense that more Fiscal expansion is.
Right, I would say Krugman would have more influence on monetary easing than fiscal spending.

I don't know the exact reason why the Fed is constraining itself, but they certainly could do more and are not.
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Old 12-24-2011, 04:47 PM   #181
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Right, I would say Krugman would have more influence on monetary easing than fiscal spending.

I don't know the exact reason why the Fed is constraining itself, but they certainly could do more and are not.
Krugman (via DeLong) just posted a link to this paper today which has the most likely explanation:

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The constraint imposed by the zero lower bound turned out to be huge (for example, Rudebusch, 2009). And central banks did not use tools other than the policy rate on a scale even remotely close to large enough to make up for the loss of stimulus caused by the zero lower bound.

Perhaps this lack of aggressiveness in using those tools reflects an understanding of the costs of using them that has eluded conventional analyses. But central bankers have yet to provide evidence of such costs. A more likely possibility, in my view, is that the culture of central banking makes it much easier to take unusual steps when the financial system is at risk than when the threat is “merely” one of years of exceptionally high unemployment. But regardless of the reason, monetary policy was not used aggressively enough to prevent very large demand shortfalls.
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Old 12-24-2011, 06:13 PM   #182
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Sigh. You seem pretty sure of this. What were you sure of back in 2008?

What if because of a particular set of circumstances, the best solution to our private debt crisis is an increase in public debt? What assumptions would you have to make to make that statement true? Try thinking of debt as a tool absent the moral judgment that assumes that debt is bad. As Krugman is wont to say "Economics is not a morality play."
It has nothing to do with morality it's simply a fact that resources are limited and people don't want to lend money to countries that plan on devaluing their currency instead of servicing their debt. Go search the other Krugman thread for my post on Keynesianism to see my thoughts. Also we will all get to wait and see what happens when the European experiment collapses. I mean is Krugman going to walk back any of his analysis once the euro stimulus fails or is it gonna be more of "it wasn't big enough" crying we constantly hear from him.
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Old 12-24-2011, 06:39 PM   #183
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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It has nothing to do with morality it's simply a fact that resources are limited and people don't want to lend money to countries that plan on devaluing their currency instead of servicing their debt. Go search the other Krugman thread for my post on Keynesianism to see my thoughts. Also we will all get to wait and see what happens when the European experiment collapses. I mean is Krugman going to walk back any of his analysis once the euro stimulus fails or is it gonna be more of "it wasn't big enough" crying we constantly hear from him.
WTF there is no Euro stimulus. What's happening in the periphery is the exact opposite of stimulus as the Germans are imposing austerity on those profligate PIGS, austerity which will make their debt problems worse not better. A fundamental balance of payments problems will be the proximate cause of a Eurozone breakup and really has exactly zero to do with Keynsianism (other than as a counterfactual to the failure.)
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Old 12-24-2011, 07:11 PM   #184
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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WTF there is no Euro stimulus. What's happening in the periphery is the exact opposite of stimulus as the Germans are imposing austerity on those profligate PIGS, austerity which will make their debt problems worse not better. A fundamental balance of payments problems will be the proximate cause of a Eurozone breakup and really has exactly zero to do with Keynsianism (other than as a counterfactual to the failure.)
Correct it is not a stimulus but it is certainly a bailout, just taken in a slightly different form. The ECB cannot buy bonds, so they lend to banks at 1% and they buy the periphery debt.

The crisis in Europe has saved the dollar from devaluation, and hence the large asset purchasing programs have seemed to have had little to no effect on the strength of the dollar. If Europe can get its act together(not holding my breath here) the dollar will almost certainly decrease in power moderately, unless we move to a tighter fiscal and monetary policy.
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Old 12-24-2011, 08:01 PM   #185
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Krugman (via DeLong) just posted a link to this paper today which has the most likely explanation:
Yes, I agree the central bank is too conservative. Bernanke and Krugman were both yelling about Japan back in the early 2000s for not doing enough. Now Bernanke is now making the same mistakes he previously criticized. Much easier to be so confident in these decisions when you're not the decision maker I guess.

I would like to see some country attempt Scott Sumner's ideas on NGDP targeting.
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Old 12-25-2011, 06:49 AM   #186
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Clearly you do not since the entire point of my post was missed by you. See the article I linked in my previous post. Rates are artificially low, can't really be denied. Next time you want to make a smart ass remark learn what you're talking about first
It's kind of impossible to win with you people. You claim interest rates will rise; we say they will not. They don't. You say, yeah, but they are kept artificially low. You have an answer for every outcome, and can never actually be wrong.

They are not "artificially low" in any case. This is how the system is supposed to work.
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Old 12-25-2011, 06:54 AM   #187
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Re: Paul Krugman.

Nearly everything ianlippert posted is entirely incorrect. More incorrect even than samsonh. There is no public debt crisis. No one is unwilling to "lend money" to the US.

And there is no Euro stimulus. There should be. America should absolutely not move to a tighter fiscal policy in the short term and whether it should at all is a political not an economic question.
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Old 12-25-2011, 08:39 AM   #188
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Originally Posted by Monkey Banana View Post
Nearly everything ianlippert posted is entirely incorrect. More incorrect even than samsonh. There is no public debt crisis. No one is unwilling to "lend money" to the US.

And there is no Euro stimulus. There should be. America should absolutely not move to a tighter fiscal policy in the short term and whether it should at all is a political not an economic question.
I'm quite sure that you are unaware of how currencies and central banks work, as well as the impact interest rates will have on a currency in the long run. Ian didn't say people were unwilling to lend to the us, but if it were just people lending, the rates would be higher. Rates are artificially low, I mean, that's kinda the ENTIRE POINT of qe and operation twist and the mbs purchasing program!!
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Old 12-25-2011, 09:47 AM   #189
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Originally Posted by Monkey Banana View Post
Nearly everything ianlippert posted is entirely incorrect. More incorrect even than samsonh. There is no public debt crisis. No one is unwilling to "lend money" to the US.

And there is no Euro stimulus. There should be. America should absolutely not move to a tighter fiscal policy in the short term and whether it should at all is a political not an economic question.
Let me clarify, US doesn't have a debt problem yet, (as defined by higher interest rates) these systems can be very resiliant. The US will have a problem financing it's debt sometime within this decade, imo, as their debt to GDP just hit 100% and it does not seem like there is any political will to change that anytime soon. All there is, is this belief that you never ever reduce debt in a recession. If you are at the point where the marginal return to debt has gone negative then you are facing the risk that growth will not return by the time that negative return to debt ensures you will never escape the recession and your country will eventually face bankruptcy. 5-10 years might seem a far ways out but the gravity of the situation suggests that people have to start taking it seriously now , when it doesn't seem as serious, if we are to have any chance of averting disaster, see global warming.

Second, the Euro is most definately facing a debt crisis. Italy's yield just breached the magical, never gonna service your debt, 7% threshold and the bailouts have started in earnest. It's not fiscal stimulus but monetary stimulus and there is little difference between what they are doing now and what they did in the past which suggests that in 5-10 years (probably less in this case) they are going to be facing the same problem. Their solution is just more leverage and powerless budget constraint that just incentivize people towards moral hazard.

Yes maybe the Austrians have a bit of a fetish for hyperinflation but just because they are wrong does not mean the inflationists at the other end of the spectrum are right. That's a dangerous false dichotomy that allows for a lot of potential failure from responses that fall in between.
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Old 12-25-2011, 10:25 AM   #190
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Old 12-25-2011, 11:05 AM   #191
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Sigh. You seem pretty sure of this. What were you sure of back in 2008?

What if because of a particular set of circumstances, the best solution to our private debt crisis is an increase in public debt? What assumptions would you have to make to make that statement true? Try thinking of debt as a tool absent the moral judgment that assumes that debt is bad. As Krugman is wont to say "Economics is not a morality play."
This is certainly the wrong answer. Private bondholders, howl as they may, should take losses. Compare Iceland and Ireland. Iceland just had an epic banking crisis, and when the politicians tried to nationalize these debts (and consign their taxpayers to decades of debt slavery), the voters told them to piss off. Because the government rightly refused to back debt that could never be paid back, Iceland had a sharp, swift recession and is now recovering nicely. Ireland, on the other hand, stupidly decided to bail out French and German bankers holding Irish bank debt. The people now have to bear that burden of servicing a mountain of debt that can never be paid back, and suffer austerity as a result. Which leads me to what I can generalize as the Austrian position on austerity:

Austerity, in the sense of running balanced budgets and having very low, easily serviceable public debt is a good thing. Governments should generally only spend what they take in, and not spend beyond their means (this generally but unfortunately seldom happens). Austerity, as we've come to know it in Europe (huge tax hikes/slashing essential services) to bail out bank bond holders is a disaster. The right answer again goes back to Iceland: Yes, they've had their own version of austerity, having to greatly reign in public expenditures. But austerity here is clearly worth it, as taxpayers are helping get the government's finances in order without having to backstop private bondholders.
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Old 12-25-2011, 11:43 AM   #192
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Originally Posted by Monkey Banana View Post
Nearly everything ianlippert posted is entirely incorrect. More incorrect even than samsonh. There is no public debt crisis. No one is unwilling to "lend money" to the US.

And there is no Euro stimulus. There should be. America should absolutely not move to a tighter fiscal policy in the short term and whether it should at all is a political not an economic question.
Paid by whom? Europe has had, by definition, nothing but "stimulus" in the form of profligate fiscal deficits that have culminated in this present debt-crisis. So the best way, then, for the markets to regain their trust in Europe is to have these same governments borrow and spend "more"? See how that works out.

If you should learn anything from Europe, it's that public debt doesn't matter until it does. 6 years ago Greece was borrowing for a few basis points more than Germany was paying. This is why that while the U.S. does not have a debt crisis at the moment, it doesn't follow that we should wait until the country does to do anything about it. Ditto for Japan. Japan, in fact, is an interest rate spike away from a full-fledged crisis. With Japan presently at 200% Debt to GDP, a spike of a couple hundred basis points (to rates around 4% or so) would suddenly make the cost of debt service exceed general revenue. It is absolutely game over at that point. Japan also has significant headwinds in the form of demographics. As the population ages, these savers (who have financed Japan's profligate deficits) will begin redeeming their JYGs. The trouble will begin when Japan has to begin searching for international financing for its deficits.
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Old 12-25-2011, 01:17 PM   #193
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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This is certainly the wrong answer. Private bondholders, howl as they may, should take losses. Compare Iceland and Ireland. Iceland just had an epic banking crisis, and when the politicians tried to nationalize these debts (and consign their taxpayers to decades of debt slavery), the voters told them to piss off. Because the government rightly refused to back debt that could never be paid back, Iceland had a sharp, swift recession and is now recovering nicely. Ireland, on the other hand, stupidly decided to bail out French and German bankers holding Irish bank debt. The people now have to bear that burden of servicing a mountain of debt that can never be paid back, and suffer austerity as a result. Which leads me to what I can generalize as the Austrian position on austerity:

Austerity, in the sense of running balanced budgets and having very low, easily serviceable public debt is a good thing. Governments should generally only spend what they take in, and not spend beyond their means (this generally but unfortunately seldom happens). Austerity, as we've come to know it in Europe (huge tax hikes/slashing essential services) to bail out bank bond holders is a disaster. The right answer again goes back to Iceland: Yes, they've had their own version of austerity, having to greatly reign in public expenditures. But austerity here is clearly worth it, as taxpayers are helping get the government's finances in order without having to backstop private bondholders.







So your poster child for how to deal with a financial crisis went from running a budget surplus to running up a huge deficit while simultaneously devaluing (sorry, debasing) their currency. Of course these are standard steps for a country that has control of its own currency during such a crisis, tools that Ireland and the rest of the periphery don't have available to them.
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Old 12-25-2011, 01:32 PM   #194
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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So your poster child for how to deal with a financial crisis went from running a budget surplus to running up a huge deficit while simultaneously devaluing (sorry, debasing) their currency. Of course these are standard steps for a country that has control of its own currency during such a crisis, tools that Ireland and the rest of the periphery don't have available to them.
The main tool Ireland had--letting its banks go busto and allowing German and French bondholders to eat losses--it cowardly surrendered. Unless I read your earlier post incorrectly, you seemed to suggest that moving private debts to the public sector can be an effective response to a financial crisis. I'm arguing precisely the opposite.

Here's buisness insider: What The World Can Learn From Iceland's Default Model

FWIW it cites Krugman and Stiglitz (folks I typically disagree with) as supporting Iceland's default. Here I'm with them 100%.
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Old 12-25-2011, 01:39 PM   #195
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Re: Paul Krugman.

FWIW the overriding principle here is that "what can't be paid back, shouldn't (and eventually won't)." This goes for both public and private debts. The PIIGS need to default, frankly. A significant reason we haven't seen much in the way of recovery since 2008 is that all that bad debt is still there, papered over with government backstops and marked-to-fantasy. Again, Iceland has taken the opposite approach and will now grow at 3% with a projected government surplus by 2013. Politically powerful bondholders obviously don't want to go along with this scheme.
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Old 12-25-2011, 02:09 PM   #196
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Originally Posted by Bigdaddydvo View Post
The main tool Ireland had--letting its banks go busto and allowing German and French bondholders to eat losses--it cowardly surrendered. Unless I read your earlier post incorrectly, you seemed to suggest that moving private debts to the public sector can be an effective response to a financial crisis. I'm arguing precisely the opposite.

Here's buisness insider: What The World Can Learn From Iceland's Default Model

FWIW it cites Krugman and Stiglitz (folks I typically disagree with) as supporting Iceland's default. Here I'm with them 100%.
I'm no fan of the way Ireland dealt with its banking crisis (not sure how you could have read my posts in that way), but not having control of its currency certainly makes a big difference.

The thing about your Iceland example is that there is growth now, but only after trebling its public debt and devaluing its currency by 50%. It would be pretty hard to find a country that couldn't show growth after that combination.
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Old 12-25-2011, 02:27 PM   #197
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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I'm no fan of the way Ireland dealt with its banking crisis (not sure how you could have read my posts in that way), but not having control of its currency certainly makes a big difference.

The thing about your Iceland example is that there is growth now, but only after trebling its public debt and devaluing its currency by 50%. It would be pretty hard to find a country that couldn't show growth after that combination.
So a better solution is constant patchwork bailouts where we never address the root issue(kinda like the EU is doing now)?
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Old 12-26-2011, 02:29 PM   #198
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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Yes, I agree the central bank is too conservative. Bernanke and Krugman were both yelling about Japan back in the early 2000s for not doing enough. Now Bernanke is now making the same mistakes he previously criticized. Much easier to be so confident in these decisions when you're not the decision maker I guess.

I would like to see some country attempt Scott Sumner's ideas on NGDP targeting.
Just wanted to bump this to say that I really like Sumner and am being brought around to his point of view about the relative efficacy of fiscal stimulus vs a committed and activist Fed.
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:42 AM   #199
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Re: Paul Krugman.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/201...urden-of-debt/

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The government is now deeply in debt — but the nation has not directly gotten any poorer: the public, in its role as taxpayers, now owes 500 percent of GDP, but the public, in its role as investors, now owns new assets equal to 500 percent of GDP. It’s a wash.

So where’s the problem? Well, to pay interest on that debt, the government will have to raise a lot more revenue. Again, this is a wash — the extra revenue is matched by the extra income people receive as bondholders. But tax rates will have to go way up; and because lump-sum taxes don’t exist in the real world, this means that marginal tax rates will have to go way up.
500% debt-to-GDP is no problem! WE OWE IT TO OURSELVES!
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Old 12-29-2011, 12:46 AM   #200
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Re: Paul Krugman.

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This is what I mean when I say that the burden of debt is about incentives, not about having to deliver resources to other people.
Greece really loves it's incentives
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