Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Krugman, et al. v. Ferguson, et al.: What’s the Problem?

This article directly addresses an implicit debate that I've been following. On one side, Paul Krugman and Brad DeLong, on the other, Niall Ferguson and others, including Nassim Taleb. The issue: cut back federal spending in fear of long-term debt (think Greece), or stimulate the economy to continue raising the us out of the economic doldrums and avoid a lost decade (think Japan). At this point, I side with Krugman, who is thinking (rightly, I believe) short-term. Long term, Ferguson and Taleb and the deficit hawks are right: too much debt is a bad thing. The bad guys: W. Bush and his cronies. He and his Congress ballooned the federal deficit, leaving the Obama administration much less room to do what is necessary in the way of deficit spending.

For history buffs, remember that FDR became deficit hawkish at the beginning of his second term and took the nation into a second down turn. It took WWII, with its unprecedented deficit spending, to lift us out of the Great Depression. Keynes tried to warn FDR, but to no avail. Are we in danger of repeating the same mistake?

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