I am guilty,
But not in the way you think.
I should have earlier recognized my duty;
I should have more sharply called evil evil;
I reined in my judgment too long.
I did warn,
But not enough, and clear;
And today I know what I was guilty of.
PBS News Hour
A Mythical Anniversary
June 18, 2012, 3:34 pm
I tried to knock down the simply insane conventional wisdom then gelling among Very Serious People. Intellectually it was, I think I can say without false modesty, a huge win; I (and those of like mind) have been right about everything.
But I had no success in deflecting the terrible wrong turn in policy. Moreover, as far as I can tell none of the people responsible for that wrong turn has paid any price, not even in reputation; they’re still regarded as Very Serious, treated with great deference.
Myths of Austerity
Published: July 1, 2010
When I was young and naïve, I believed that important people took positions based on careful consideration of the options. Now I know better. Much of what Serious People believe rests on prejudices, not analysis. And these prejudices are subject to fads and fashions.
This conventional wisdom isn’t based on either evidence or careful analysis. Instead, it rests on what we might charitably call sheer speculation, and less charitably call figments of the policy elite’s imagination – specifically, on belief in what I’ve come to think of as the invisible bond vigilante and the confidence fairy.
So the next time you hear serious-sounding people explaining the need for fiscal austerity, try to parse their argument. Almost surely, you’ll discover that what sounds like hardheaded realism actually rests on a foundation of fantasy, on the belief that invisible vigilantes will punish us if we’re bad and the confidence fairy will reward us if we’re good.
Interest Rates: Varieties of Error
June 19, 2012, 8:57 am
Originally, claims that deficits would drive up rates weren’t based on arguments about solvency; they were based on the “crowding out” claim that the government would be competing with the private sector for a limited supply of savings. Then, when the promised rate spike failed to materialize, this was attributed to Fed purchases, with the claim that rates would spike when those came to an end. Wrong, and wrong again. As I wrote at the time, all this represented a basic misunderstanding of how the economy works.
Now, maybe there’s a solvency issue, and bond vigilantes will turn on America over that – although of course this keeps not happening either to us or to anyone else with their own currency. But you do need to know that many of the people making the solvency argument originally made a completely different argument – one that was completely wrong.