Angry Keynesian: Krugman Threatens to 'Punch' Detractors 'In the Kisser'

Paul Krugman is known for throwing a bomb or two from his platform in the New York Times, but it’s really tough to take him for a violent fellow.

In his July 2 blog post, “I’m Gonna Haul Out The Next Guy Who Calls Me ‘Crude’ And Punch Him In the Kisser,” Krugman lamented criticism of his support for more stimulus spending. A July 1 editorial in The Economist noted that the economy needs more private spending, not more government spending.

“Mr Krugman’s crude Keynesianism underplays the link between firms’ and households’ behaviour and their expectations of future tax and spending policy,” the editorial said. “For example, firms across the rich world are hoarding cash. Their reluctance to invest may have more to do with regulatory, financial and fiscal uncertainty than weak consumer demand (see article). If governments address those worries, businesspeople may start spending.”

But Krugman argued he does get it, but disagrees – although he didn’t seem to address this argument of long-term spending. Instead, he called for more Keynesian medicine.

“All through this debate, a recurring theme among anti-Keynesians has been that Keynesians like me or Brad [DeLong of Grasping Reality with Both Hands] are ignorant primitives who don’t know anything about modern macro,” Krugman wrote. “It’s really hard to see where that comes from, since I’ve done plenty of intertemporal optimizing in my time. Part of the problem seems to be that the people saying this are taken aback by what we’re saying because they don’t actually understand the implications of their own models.”

Over the past couple years, Krugman has been an outspoken advocate of government stimulus spending, criticized a $775 billion stimulus plan for being too small, called for a second stimulus, and even claimed in 2008 that "we probably have $10 trillion of running room" when asked how much the government could spend to turn the economy around.

But that begs the question – could a conservative economist get away with suggesting he wants to “haul out the next guy who calls me ‘crude’ and punch him in the kisser? Doubtful.

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