Krugman over the years has refused to explain the Austrian viewpoints in anything but outright caricatures and exaggerations. For example, here we get what he calls the "Hangover Theory," which outright misrepresents everything written by Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, and Murray Rothbard on the subject of business cycle theory.
In this June 14 post on his NYT blog, Krugman once again refuses to take a serious look at what the Austrians claim, deciding, instead, to place them in a false light in order to make them seem as though they are united by one thing: hatred of humanity. He takes the following quote from Hayek as his example of Austrian cruelty:
…still more difficult to see what lasting good effects can come from credit expansion. The thing which is most needed to secure healthy conditions is the most speedy and complete adaptation possible of the structure of production.If the proportion as determined by the voluntary decisions of individuals is distorted by the creation of artificial demand resources [are] again led into a wrong direction and a definite and lasting adjustment is again postponed.The only way permanently to ‘mobilise’ all available resources is, thereforeto leave it to time to effect a permanent cure by the slow process of adapting the structure of production.If one reads Hayek carefully, he is saying that when governments hold down interest rates to artificially low levels, they actually BLOCK the economic recovery, yet all Krugman can see is "persistent high unemployment." Krugman writes:
These days, relatively few economists are willing to say straight out that they regard persistent high unemployment as a good thing. But they find reasons to oppose any and all suggestions to use government policy — including monetary policy — to alleviate the slump. Same as it ever was.Notice that Hayek has not said any such thing, but to Krugman, free markets and an economy not steered by government must by definition have "persistent high unemployment," although he does not explain why that would be so. (In fact, Krugman seems to believe that he really is above any such explanation, as his declaration alone should be regarded as ex cathera.)
In claiming that economists like Joseph Schumpeter and Hayek were champions of depression, Krugman (and his partner-in-crime Brad DeLong) violently misrepresent the Austrian viewpoint. The Austrians don't claim that the Great Depression was a "good thing," but rather the Great Depression occurred precisely because governments intervened in the economy to prop up malinvestments and to keep the necessary liquidations from occurring. Because of those policies, the economy got both liquidation AND high unemployment.
Unfortunately, Krugman and DeLong never see that simple point. In the Austrian view, we have EITHER liquidation of malivestments or long-term high unemployment, with any high amounts of unemployment coming from the liquidation process being temporary. Krugman and the Keynesians, on the other hand, believe that once the liquidation process begins, the economy never recovers. Ever.
As Robert Higgs writes about these "vulgar Keynesians":
With their great, simple faith in the efficacy of government spending as a macroeconomic balance wheel, vulgar Keynesians disregard malinvestment, past and future, and support government spending in excess of the government’s revenues, the difference being covered by borrowing. Of course, they favor central-bank actions to make such borrowing cheaper for the government. In fact, they chronically prefer “easy money” to more restrictive central-bank policies. As noted previously, they prefer easy money not only because it lowers the cost of financing the government’s deficit spending, but also because it induces individuals to borrow more money and spend it for consumption goods ― such increased consumption spending being viewed as always a good thing, notwithstanding the recent near-zero rate of saving by individuals in the United States. Reflecting on the vulgar Keynesian attitude toward Fed policy, I keep recalling a old country song whose refrain was: “older whiskey, faster horses, younger women, more money.”I think that pretty much says it.
Vulgar Keynesians do not spend much time worrying about potential inflation; on the contrary, they are obsessed with an irrational fear of even the slightest hint of deflation. If inflation should become an undeniable problem, we may count on them to support price controls, which, they are convinced on the basis of sketchy knowledge of such controls during World War II, can be made to work well.