Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Investing in a Bubble Mania Stock Market Trending Towards Financial Crisis 2.0 CRASH! - 9th Sep 21
2.Tech Stocks Bubble Valuations 2000 vs 2021 - 25th Sep 21
3.Stock Market FOMO Going into Crash Season - 8th Oct 21
4.Stock Market FOMO Hits September Brick Wall - Evergrande China's Lehman's Moment - 22nd Sep 21
5.Crypto Bubble BURSTS! BTC, ETH, XRP CRASH! NiceHash Seizes Funds on Account Halting ALL Withdrawals! - 19th May 21
6.How to Protect Your Self From a Stock Market CRASH / Bear Market? - 14th Oct 21
7.AI Stocks Portfolio Buying and Selling Levels Going Into Market Correction - 11th Oct 21
8.Why Silver Price Could Crash by 20%! - 5th Oct 21
9.Powell: Inflation Might Not Be Transitory, After All - 3rd Oct 21
10.Global Stock Markets Topped 60 Days Before the US Stocks Peaked - 23rd Sep 21
Last 7 days
Ravencoin RVN About to EXPLODE to NEW HIGHS! Last Chance to Buy Before it goes to the MOON! - 21st Oct 21
Stock Market Animal Spirits Returning - 21st Oct 21
Inflation Advances, and So Does Gold — Except That It Doesn’t - 21st Oct 21
Why A.I. Is About To Trigger The Next Great Medical Breakthrough - 21st Oct 21
Gold Price Slowly Going Nowhere - 20th Oct 21
Shocking Numbers Show Government Crowding Out Real Economy - 20th Oct 21
Crude Oil Is in the Fast Lane, But Where Is It Going? - 20th Oct 21
3 Tech Stocks That Could Change The World - 20th Oct 21
Best AI Tech Stocks ETF and Investment Trusts - 19th Oct 21
Gold Mining Stocks: Will Investors Dump the Laggards? - 19th Oct 21
The Most Exciting Medical Breakthrough Of The Decade? - 19th Oct 21
Prices Rising as New Dangers Point to Hard Assets - 19th Oct 21
It’s not just Copper; GYX indicated cyclical the whole time - 19th Oct 21
Chinese Tech Stocks CCP Paranoia, VIES - Variable Interest Entities - 19th Oct 21
Inflation Peaked Again, Right? - 19th Oct 21
Gold Stocks Bouncing Hard - 19th Oct 21
Stock Market New Intermediate Bottom Forming? - 19th Oct 21
Beware, Gold Bulls — That’s the Beginning of the End - 18th Oct 21
Gold Price Flag Suggests A Big Rally May Start Soon - 18th Oct 21
Inflation Or Deflation – End Result Is Still Depression - 18th Oct 21
A.I. Breakthrough Could Disrupt the $11 Trillion Medical Sector - 18th Oct 21
US Economy and Stock Market Addicted to Deficit Spending - 17th Oct 21
The Gold Price And Inflation - 17th Oct 21
Went Long the Crude Oil? Beware of the Headwinds Ahead… - 17th Oct 21
Watch These Next-gen Cloud Computing Stocks - 17th Oct 21
Overclockers UK Custom Built PC 1 YEAR Use Review Verdict - Does it Still Work? - 16th Oct 21
Altonville Mine Tours Maze at Alton Towers Scarefest 2021 - 16th Oct 21
How to Protect Your Self From a Stock Market CRASH / Bear Market? - 14th Oct 21
The Only way to Crush Inflation (not stocks) - 14th Oct 21
Why "Losses Are the Norm" in the Stock Market - 14th Oct 21
Sub Species Castle Maze at Alton Towers Scarefest 2021 - 14th Oct 21
Which Wallet is Best for Storing NFTs? - 14th Oct 21
Ailing UK Pound Has Global Effects - 14th Oct 21
How to Get 6 Years Life Out of Your Overclocked PC System, Optimum GPU, CPU and MB Performance - 13th Oct 21
The Demand Shock of 2022 - 12th Oct 21
4 Reasons Why NFTs Could Be The Future - 12th Oct 21
Crimex Silver: Murder Most Foul - 12th Oct 21
Bitcoin Rockets In Preparation For Liftoff To $100,000 - 12th Oct 21
INTEL Tech Stock to the MOON! INTC 2000 vs 2021 Market Bubble WARNING - 11th Oct 21
AI Stocks Portfolio Buying and Selling Levels Going Into Market Correction - 11th Oct 21
Stock Market Wall of Worry Meets NFPs - 11th Oct 21
Stock Market Intermediate Correction Continues - 11th Oct 21
China / US Stock Markets Divergence - 10th Oct 21
Can US Save Taiwan From China? Taiwan Strait Naval Battle - PLA vs 7th Fleet War Game Simulation - 10th Oct 21
Gold Price Outlook: The Inflation Chasm Between Europe and the US - 10th Oct 21
US Real Estate ETFs React To Rising Housing Market Mortgage Interest Rates - 10th Oct 21
US China War over Taiwan Simulation 2021, Invasion Forecast - Who Will Win? - 9th Oct 21
When Will the Fed Taper? - 9th Oct 21
Dancing with Ghouls and Ghosts at Alton Towers Scarefest 2021 - 9th Oct 21
Stock Market FOMO Going into Crash Season - 8th Oct 21
Scan Computers - Custom Build PC 6 Months Later, Reliability, Issues, Quality of Tech Support Review - 8th Oct 21
Gold and Silver: Your Financial Main Battle Tanks - 8th Oct 21
How to handle the “Twin Crises” Evergrande and Debt Ceiling Threatening Stocks - 8th Oct 21
Why a Peak in US Home Prices May Be Approaching - 8th Oct 21
Alton Towers Scarefest is BACK! Post Pandemic Frights Begin, What it's Like to Enter Scarefest 2021 - 8th Oct 21
AJ Bell vs II Interactive Investor - Which Platform is Best for Buying US FAANG Stocks UK Investing - 7th Oct 21
Gold: Evergrande Investors' Savior - 7th Oct 21
Here's What Really Sets Interest Rates (Not Central Banks) - 7th Oct 21

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

Has Paul Krugman Become an Austrian Economist? Not Quite….

Economics / Economic Theory Jul 18, 2009 - 06:39 AM GMT

By: LewRockwell

Economics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleWilliam L. Anderson writes: Paul Krugman has looked at Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle and found it wanting. First, he mistakenly calls it a "hangover theory" when, in fact, it is a theory of easy credit leading to malinvestments. Second, he really does not understand that government cannot sustain a boom once the financial wave has crested. Third, he has no understanding of the heterogeneity of assets, assuming that capital and other assets are homogeneous for the purposes of economic policy.


However, in his recent column, he did make a (sort of) reference to malinvestments. He does not call them as such, but does make a reference to assets that could not be sustained in the boom:

Financial firms, we now know, directed vast quantities of capital into the construction of unsellable houses and empty shopping malls. They increased risk rather than reducing it, and concentrated risk rather than spreading it. In effect, the industry was selling dangerous patent medicine to gullible consumers.

Granted, this is pretty stern stuff from someone who called for then-President Bush and the Fed to start a housing bubble (and then say later he only was kidding). However, what he said has some truth to it, as it was not just the "banksters" that were selling the snake oil, but the "elite" economists as well. (One remembers how Arthur Laffer excoriated Peter Schiff for sounding the alarm in 2006.)

The other thing to keep in mind is that Krugman actually seems to be differentiating between assets that are sustainable and those that cannot be sustained. Can he be saying that assets and capital really are heterogeneous as say the Austrians versus the belief of Keynesians that assets are homogeneous, as the Keynesians claim in their policy prescriptions? (Indeed, that seems to be a fundamental tenet of Krugman’s claim that "depression economics" changes the rules.)

Unfortunately, he never takes that statement to its logical conclusions. Instead, he uses it as a lead-in to his usual point: banks must be both cartelized and regulated:

The huge bonuses Goldman will soon hand out show that financial-industry highfliers are still operating under a system of heads they win, tails other people lose. If you’re a banker, and you generate big short-term profits, you get lavishly rewarded – and you don’t have to give the money back if and when those profits turn out to have been a mirage. You have every reason, then, to steer investors into taking risks they don’t understand.

And the events of the past year have skewed those incentives even more, by putting taxpayers as well as investors on the hook if things go wrong.

I won’t try to parse the competing claims about how much direct benefit Goldman received from recent financial bailouts, especially the government’s assumption of A.I.G.’s liabilities. What’s clear is that Wall Street in general, Goldman very much included, benefited hugely from the government’s provision of a financial backstop – an assurance that it will rescue major financial players whenever things go wrong.

All of this is (gasp!) true. Indeed, the famed "Greenspan Put" always was in the back of the minds of the banksters when they were playing the high-roller game. But, alas, Krugman does not seem to understand the logical implications of his statement (again):

You can argue that such rescues are necessary if we’re to avoid a replay of the Great Depression. In fact, I agree. But the result is that the financial system’s liabilities are now backed by an implicit government guarantee.

Now the last time there was a comparable expansion of the financial safety net, the creation of federal deposit insurance in the 1930s, it was accompanied by much tighter regulation, to ensure that banks didn’t abuse their privileges. This time, new regulations are still in the drawing-board stage – and the finance lobby is already fighting against even the most basic protections for consumers.

The problem, of course, is that government regulation creates real-live cartels that, while regulated, still are not going to serve consumers in a way that free-market firms would do. As I have stated elsewhere, the "Land of Oz" banking system that Krugman so touts actually fell apart in the late 1970s because of inflation and its inability to deal with the new technologies that were waiting to have investments made. Thus, it fell to people like Michael Milken and others who operated outside the financial cartel to set the stage for the high-tech revolution.

To Krugman the Keynesian, however, all of this is gibberish. Economies grow, in his view, because people increase spending, and if people hold back and investors don’t invest, then government steps in and fills the void. It is all so easy – and all so wrong.

There is another way, called profit and loss. In the real world, profits and losses serve as the bellwethers of regulation. Furthermore, if financial firms know that they are not operating with the government covering their losses, then the investment decisions that they make will differ greatly from those made when the "put" is at their backs.

Unfortunately, Krugman and most other "elite" economists don’t come close to understanding this simple point. Instead, they really seem to believe that banking and finance are different, and must be both cartelized and protected.

So, while Krugman seems to understand, if only for a fleeting moment, that assets might be heterogeneous and that government guarantees create huge moral hazards, nonetheless in the end his Keynesianism bleeds through. Like the Bourbons of France, he learns nothing and he forgets nothing.

The former boxer Terry in "On the Waterfront" lamented that he "coulda been a contender." With some sound economic background, Krugman could have been an Austrian. Unfortunately, he has decided to swallow the same snake oil that he claims that the banksters were selling, and it turned him into a Keynesian. He may be famous, he may be a Nobel Prize winner, but he still is wrong.

William L. Anderson, Ph.D. [send him mail], teaches economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland, and is an adjunct scholar of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He also is a consultant with American Economic Services. Visit his blog.

    http://www.lewrockwell.com

    © 2009 Copyright William L. Anderson / LewRockwell.com - All Rights Reserved
    Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in