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Paul Krugman did a fine evaluation of Romney today

Krugman‘s NY Times column, entitled “Off and Out With Mitt Romney” was a real winner this morning. Here’s a few paragraphs… but I urge you to read the whole thing:

 

In a better America, Mitt Romney would be running for president on the strength of his major achievement as governor of Massachusetts: a health reform that was identical in all important respects to the health reform enacted by President Obama. By the way, the Massachusetts reform is working pretty well and has overwhelming popular support.

In reality, however, Mr. Romney is doing no such thing, bitterly denouncing the Supreme Court for upholding the constitutionality of his own health care plan. His case for becoming president relies, instead, on his claim that, having been a successful businessman, he knows how to create jobs.

This, in turn, means that however much the Romney campaign may wish otherwise, the nature of that business career is fair game. How did Mr. Romney make all that money? Was it in ways suggesting that what was good for Bain Capital, the private equity firm that made him rich, would also be good for America?

And the answer is no.

(read the rest HERE.)

 

Paul Krugman’s Book “End This Depression Now” is available…

… and I bought a copy yesterday at my favorite bookstore (The Four Seasons, in Shepherdstown WV). I have to admit I received a discount since I had a $5.00 certificate which I won playing a riddle quiz on WSHC on Thursday morning, but I would have bought it anyway.

Paul Krugman

Krugman thinks the country’s economic problems are solvable, and he uses his book to lead us to the solutions.

“We didn’t have a plague of locusts, we were not hit by a tsunami, there wasn’t some act of God that created this terrible situation. It was acts of man.”

…Krugman said yesterday to a Netroots Nation conference in Rhode island. he also commented on the NY Times reception of his book:

The New York Times Book Review is run by Sam Tanenhaus, who is very much a neocon, and makes a point whenever a progressive comes out with a book to find someone who will attack it. It’s not really an attack, but the reviewer is shocked at the lack of respect I show for ‘highly respected people,’ I think he uses that phrase.”

Another thing Krugman said, which may show up on my Quotes of the Decade series:

“If you don’t know multiple people who are suffering, then you must be living in a very rarefied environment… you must be maybe a member of the Romney clan, or something.”

A Fairy Tale from Paul Krugman…

Settle down kiddies and listen to this, before you nod off to passive sleep and let those Republicans walk all over us…

Once upon a time, …America was a land of lazy managers and slacker workers. Productivity languished, and American industry was fading away in the face of foreign competition.

Then square-jawed, tough-minded buyout kings like Mitt Romney and the fictional Gordon Gekko came to the rescue, imposing financial and work discipline. Sure, some people didn’t like it, and, sure, they made a lot of money for themselves along the way. But the result was a great economic revival, whose benefits trickled down to everyone.

You can see why Wall Street likes this story. But none of it — except the bit about the Gekkos and the Romneys making lots of money — is true.

– Paul Krugman, NY Times

Economic Quote: Krugman asks a question…

“14 million is a minimum estimate of the number of Americans who would lose health insurance under Mr. Ryan’s proposed cuts in Medicaid; estimates by the Urban Institute actually put the number at between 14 million and 27 million.

So the proposal is exactly as President Obama described it: a proposal to deny health care (and many other essentials) to millions of Americans, while lavishing tax cuts on corporations and the wealthy — all while failing to reduce the budget deficit, unless you believe in Mr. Ryan’s secret revenue sauce. So why are centrists rising to Mr. Ryan’s defense?”

Paul Krugman in the NY Times

Krugman calls it the “Gullible Center”, and I would agree. Why people who would suffer the most from Ryan’s budget accept the anti-Obama rhetoric coming from the right as their health needs are pushed into the economic toilet in order to favor tax cuts for the wealthy is beyond me.

An overall accomplished and hard working president is constantly attacked by Republicans, by lying Super Pacs and by corporations that benefit most from increased health care costs. The center must become educated so it won’t be “gullible.”

And what is the best way to do that? You tell me.

Are we replaying 30s fascism?

Paul Krugman’s column in the NY Times upset me yesterday… partly because he started calling the world economic situation what it really is: A Depression; partly because of his comment on Hungary:

And in at least one nation, Hungary, democratic institutions are being undermined as we speak.

One of Hungary’s major parties, Jobbik, is a nightmare out of the 1930s: it’s anti-Roma (Gypsy), it’s anti-Semitic, and it even had a paramilitary arm. But the immediate threat comes from Fidesz, the governing center-right party.

Fidesz won an overwhelming Parliamentary majority last year, at least partly for economic reasons; Hungary isn’t on the euro, but it suffered severely because of large-scale borrowing in foreign currencies and also, to be frank, thanks to mismanagement and corruption on the part of the then-governing left-liberal parties. Now Fidesz, which rammed through a new Constitution last spring on a party-line vote, seems bent on establishing a permanent hold on power.

I say I am worried because I am currently reading Erik Larson‘s book In the Garden of Beasts, his superlative view of Germany, small and weak after the first World War, and the rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party in the early 30s when they could have been easily stopped and catastrophe could have been avoided. I am particularly concerned with the anti-Semitism which the European right has fallen back on too many times before…along with the anti-Roma movement which has also plagued earlier European depressions.

Maybe we can laugh when we think of
Hungary taking over Europe.

Maybe we are that stupid.

A serious quote for today… listen up:

Economist Paul Krugman

…compassion is out of fashion — indeed, lack of compassion has become a matter of principle, at least among the G.O.P.’s base.

“And what this means is that modern conservatism is actually a deeply radical movement, one that is hostile to the kind of society we’ve had for the past three generations — that is, a society that, acting through the government, tries to mitigate some of the “common hazards of life” through such programs as Social Security, unemployment insurance, Medicare and Medicaid.”

– Paul Krugman

Be aware…be very aware. Remember it was the tea party audience at the recent Republican debate who yelled “Let them die!” when Ron Paul (a “doctor”? Really?) said the poor could get their own health policies if they wanted coverage.

What is becoming of our country? To think there is a percentage of our citizens who would believe in such a thing. I don’t care what anyone thinks of the limitations of Barack Obama. I don’t remember him EVER hoping that children and seniors would die for lack of medical coverage.

This is more than a little depressing.

 

Economic Quote of the Decade: from Paul Krugman

…on the fiscal policy we are currently pursuing:

“If you do the 1937 thing, you shouldn’t be surprised at getting the 1937 result.”

This would make a useful bumper sticker.

If you can’t afford the Health Care system and there is no Medicare For All…

…then a creative solution may be your only choice. Take James Verone of Gastonia, North Carolina:

The best comment I saw about James Verone’s situation (and that of millions of others) was on Mickey Mills’ blog, The Prodigal Scribe:

“The story behind this story is the one that really grabs me. We can put a man on the moon. We are the richest country on the planet. We arguably have the best colleges and universities putting out the brightest and the best.

“And we can’t figure out how to get health care for the needy. Between the greedy insurance underwriters, lawyers and drug companies, we have created a medical behemoth that is strictly for the haves — the have nots be damned.”

My question is when are we going to finally get the Health Insurance companies out of our pockets and realize that medical care for all is a right and not a commodity for profit?

An Economic Quote for the Morning…

… from Paul Krugman in the NY Times:

“Consciously or not, policy makers are catering almost exclusively to the interests of rentiers — those who derive lots of income from assets, who lent large sums of money in the past, often unwisely, but are now being protected from loss at everyone else’s expense.”

Hmmm. “Rentiers.” There’s a new word to learn. It’s sort of a nice way to say bastard bankers, or corporate pigs… a lot of class for a collection of scum ( or “scumiers”). Yet these are the people who have taken their tax deductions and NOT created jobs… nor even encouraged the creation of jobs… but have pocketed their cash in the back of their pants in Mexico and China and India… Certainly it is not being spent here in the good old USA.

And who pays the tab on the huge bill created for operation of our government, military, debt repayments and the loans and support w are making to just about every other civil population but our own? Why, we do. The American “Middle Class“… just a label now, since any economic positives of being in the middle class have been thoroughly negated.

Krugman sums up how these “rentiers” take over the ruling power in our country:

“And that explains why creditor interests bulk so large in policy; not only is this the class that makes big campaign contributions, it’s the class that has personal access to policy makers — many of whom go to work for these people when they exit government through the revolving door. The process of influence doesn’t have to involve raw corruption (although that happens, too). All it requires is the tendency to assume that what’s good for the people you hang out with, the people who seem so impressive in meetings — hey, they’re rich, they’re smart, and they have great tailors — must be good for the economy as a whole.

And we sit by the wayside, left behind, in pain and broken (and broke), thinking that we could get rich, too, rather than standing up and fighting back.

The Sundays of Our Disbelief…

I watched the Sunday Morning news programs… the talking heads more than the news… and listened to the Administration arguments as to why this deal with the Republicans is a good one for the country, and the economists argue it one way or the other (Krugman was especially effective arguing against the deal on ABC), and the politicians in general, like Bloomberg in NYC.

The fact that there is no complete agreement on this means that the votes in the Senate tomorrow could go anywhere (although the prediction that the deal will go through seems to have the majority of TV commentators signed on) is going to make any discussion worth watching.

My belief, however, is that parties far beyond the Administration, the Congress or We The People are making the decisions on this. Why else would Republicans, who complain about our debts in their anti-Obama accusations of Communism and Socialism, decide to add a trillion bucks to the deficit by giving it away to the rich who don’t need it? When it doesn’t work… doesn’t create more jobs or push us out of debt over the next two years… the failures will be easy to place at Republican feet. The Rich 1% and the Bankers will have suffered nothing and the Middle Class will shrink a little more.

I can’t take Bill Clinton seriously, either (someone on the talking heads this morning said that Clinton was a Survivor… whatever the problem, he will say the thing that has him survive. Obama, however, is a compromiser and will compromise before even being asked to.) If anything, he is helping to hold up a problem that destroyed the accomplishments of his Presidency.

So here I am… a “99er” as current definitions go… unemployed for way more than the 99 weeks and forced into retirement earlier than I wanted to be (lower Social Security)…  and one who campaigned, volunteered and voted for Obama, who is not getting anywhere with the deal as (non)negotiated, wondering what will befall us next. 2011 is going to be a dismal year.

 

Quote of the Day – from Paul Krugman

“Mr. Obama should draw a line in the sand, right here, right now. If Republicans hold out, and taxes go up, he should tell the nation the truth, and denounce the blackmail attempt for what it is.

“Yes, letting taxes go up would be politically risky. But giving in would be risky, too — especially for a president whom voters are starting to write off as a man too timid to take a stand.”

 

– Paul Krugman in the NY Times article: Let’s Not Make a Deal.

Paul Krugman: Reign Of Error

From today’s NY Times:

Oh, well. Sewell Chan has an article about the rising influence of conservative economists; what he doesn’t point out is so far that these guys have been wrong about everything. They’re prospering because their political faction is prospering, not because their economic doctrines have proved correct or even plausible.

I have to say, when I got into economics, I expected evidence to matter more than it does — obviously telling people what they want to hear prevails more in the political arena than in academics, but even there the willingness to hang on to preferred narratives no matter the evidence is impressive.

Nothing to do but keep on plugging, I guess. In the long run truth will, one hopes, prevail; but in the long run …

If we CAN learn from History, we ought to listen to Krugman…

In his piece in the NY Times this morning, Paul Krugman compared the situation Obama is in now with the situation FDR was in in 1937… and how similar the public response was (and how misdirected.)

Here’s a clip:

The story of 1937, of F.D.R.’s disastrous decision to heed those who said that it was time to slash the deficit, is well known. What’s less well known is the extent to which the public drew the wrong conclusions from the recession that followed: far from calling for a resumption of New Deal programs, voters lost faith in fiscal expansion.

Consider Gallup polling from March 1938. Asked whether government spending should be increased to fight the slump, 63 percent of those polled said no. Asked whether it would be better to increase spending or to cut business taxes, only 15 percent favored spending; 63 percent favored tax cuts. And the 1938 election was a disaster for the Democrats, who lost 70 seats in the House and seven in the Senate.

And then came World War II and the miracle occurred.

From an economic point of view World War II was, above all, a burst of deficit-financed government spending, on a scale that would never have been approved otherwise. Over the course of the war the federal government borrowed an amount equal to roughly twice the value of G.D.P. in 1940 — the equivalent of roughly $30 trillion today.

Had anyone proposed spending even a fraction that much before the war, people would have said the same things they’re saying today. They would have warned about crushing debt and runaway inflation. They would also have said, rightly, that the Depression was in large part caused by excess debt — and then have declared that it was impossible to fix this problem by issuing even more debt.

But guess what? Deficit spending created an economic boom — and the boom laid the foundation for long-run prosperity.

We don’t have a similar miracle waiting in the wings for us. In fact, our military is more than overspent and tired out after the decade of Iraq and Afghanistan. And we are broke!

The odds of the Repiglicans, who will be voted in to Congress by short-sighted middle- and lower-class folks, increasing our expenditures on jobs and government-financed recovery are minimal.

But it turns out that politicians and economists alike have spent decades unlearning the lessons of the 1930s, and are determined to repeat all the old mistakes. And it’s slightly sickening to realize that the big winners in the midterm elections are likely to be the very people who first got us into this mess, then did everything in their power to block action to get us out.

But always remember: this slump can be cured. All it will take is a little bit of intellectual clarity, and a lot of political will. Here’s hoping we find those virtues in the not too distant future.

And here’s hoping it doesn’t take a World War.

Krugman sums it up today… there clearly was a predictable housing bubble.

clipped from krugman.blogs.nytimes.com

Wrong To Be Right

Yves Smith says most of what needs to be said about the Boston Fed study saying that nobody could have called the housing bubble. I’d just add that it’s helpful to look at what we knew back when. Here’s a picture from Kash of house prices up to early 2005; by the way, these were OFHEO prices, which most now believe understated the rise, which was better shown by Case-Shiller. But here’s what it looked like, even then:

DESCRIPTION

Given this kind of picture — and given the fact that the late-80s rise in southern California was, in fact, a bubble — how could you not be very worried? And when you looked at the rationalizations for high housing prices being given at the time, it was obvious that they were questionable.

Sorry: the evidence just screamed bubble. No excuses for those who didn’t want to hear it.

  blog it
I’m awfully glad we’ve got Krugman to point out when the high-paid experts are full of it.

A Quote for the Day – From Paul Krugman

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.

Go in and read Krugman’s NY Times column, Myths of Austerity, HERE.

New Yorker Profile of Paul Krugman

I just finished reading  The Deflationist. a profile of economist Paul Krugman. Go HERE and read it. You’ll thank me.

Quote of the Day

I’m going to avoid anything about the Nobel Prize in this segment today… there’s going to be a lot more talking about it (Obama, as I write this, is getting ready to speak live-on-TV). Instead, I was interested in this:

“The rise of American education was, overwhelmingly, the rise of public education — and for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Education, as one of the largest components of public spending, has inevitably suffered.”

– Paul Krugman in a column entitled The Uneducated American

Past 20 years… hmmm… I guess he means starting with Reagan where everything else in our great state dissolution started.

Quote of the Day

On the Baucus Plan and potential improvements:

“You see, it has been clear for months that whatever health-care bill finally emerges will fall far short of reformers’ hopes. Yet even a bad bill could be much better than nothing. The question is where to draw the line. How bad does a bill have to be to make it too bad to vote for?”

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman does a pretty good history of Contemporary Economics…

… in the NY Times Magazine. Here’s a little of the start, but this is an 8 page article that explains a lot. I recommend it.
clipped from www.nytimes.com

How Did Economists Get It So Wrong?
It’s hard to believe now, but not long ago economists were congratulating themselves over the success of their field. Those successes — or so they believed — were both theoretical and practical, leading to a golden era for the profession.
Last year, everything came apart.
Few economists saw our current crisis coming, but this predictive failure was the least of the field’s problems. More important was the profession’s blindness to the very possibility of catastrophic failures in a market economy.
As I see it, the economics profession went astray because economists, as a group, mistook beauty, clad in impressive-looking mathematics, for truth. Until the Great Depression, most economists clung to a vision of capitalism as a perfect or nearly perfect system.
Unfortunately, this romanticized and sanitized vision of the economy led most economists to ignore all the things that can go wrong.
blog it

Quote of the Day

“President Obama is now facing the same kind of opposition that President Bill Clinton had to deal with: an enraged right that denies the legitimacy of his presidency, that eagerly seizes on every wild rumor manufactured by the right-wing media complex.

This opposition cannot be appeased.”

Paul Krugman, NY Times

And if it cannot be appeased perhaps it can be crushed.