Places like MIT (where Paul Krugman received his Ph.D.) promoted a mathematically-rigorous economics graduate program, and most everywhere else followed at one level or another. "Doing economics" became creating mathematical models that either were supposed to emulate either what individuals do (microeconomics) or an entire economy (macroeconomics) and then "solving" the mathematical equations and presenting one's results as an economic application.
The most famous of the MIT professors was Paul Samuelson, who not only was successful in transforming academic economics from one of logical constructs to aping the "language of physics," but also promoting Keynesian "economics" in the United States. Like his student after him, Samuelson also received the Nobel in economics.
Why the long introduction? I do it because Krugman once again abandons economics for circular logic in his latest column. We get such gems as:
So we’ve gone through years of high unemployment and inadequate growth. Despite the pain, however, American families have gradually improved their financial position. And in the past few months there have been signs of an emerging virtuous circle. As families have repaired their finances, they have increased their spending; as consumer demand has started to revive, businesses have become more willing to invest; and all this has led to an expanding economy, which further improves families’ financial situation.Before the Doctrines of Samuelson had taken hold, such a statement immediately would have been recognized as an example of circular logic, or, more specifically, the informal logical fallacy of "begging the question." Today, unfortunately, this is what passes for economic wisdom.
Every once in a while Krugman has a column full of such economic gems, and this is one of them. At the present time, the Republicans are proposing about $60 billion in cuts -- this with a proposed budget deficit of approximately $1.5 TRILLION -- and Krugman is claiming that such cuts will "kill" the current economic recovery.
I'd like to say that on its face, such a statement falls into the "howler" category, but this gives authentic howlers a bad name. This comes from the same guy who still wants us to believe that had the "stimulus" passed in 2009 been $1.2 trillion instead of $800 billion, that we would have had a full recovery. Yeah, all it took was another $400 of paving roads, and we would have been in clover.
However, when Krugman writes a Really Rich Column, he throws in lots and lots of howlers. So, we get this one:
But it’s (the recovery) still a fragile process, especially given the effects of rising oil and food prices. These price rises have little to do with U.S. policy; they’re mainly because of growing demand from China and other emerging markets, on one side, and disruption of supply from political turmoil and terrible weather on the other. But they’re a hit to purchasing power at an especially awkward time. And things will be much worse if the Federal Reserve and other central banks mistakenly respond to higher headline inflation by raising interest rates.Yep, Krugman pulls his best Jake Blues act by trying to claim that the rise in oil and food prices has nothing to do with the fact that Ben Bernanke has been showering the world with dollars. Yeah, commodity prices are volatile and we have had bad weather, and so on and so on.
The fact that the currency used to pay for oil worldwide is the dollar is irrelevant in Krugman's political world, but it is relevant in the real world. When there is a movement afoot to use something other than the dollar to pay for international oil sales, I don't think it is because the Republicans want to cut 1.7 percent from Obama's current budget.
However, we are supposed to ignore this and accept Krugman's politically-convenient "bad weather and everyone else is getting richer" explanation. That is not economics, nor is it even mediocre economic logic. No, it is the application of pure, political partisanship in an attempt to circumvent sound economic thinking. Yep, that's Paul Krugman.