Thursday, July 12, 2012

Magneto Trouble?

Paul Krugman is baffled, he says, by Jeff Sachs. Of course he is, he’s baffled by anyone who disagrees with him. We can’t know what the specifics of the bafflement are because Paul links to an article in Financial Times which is behind a subscription wall. I guess he assumes that anyone who reads his blog is a fellow economist who subscribes to Financial Times, which is sort of contrary to the purpose of a blog, but then we’re dealing with the mind of Paul Krugman. I’m sure he is baffled by the idea that anyone might not subscribe to the Financial Times when it costs a mere $199 per year to do so.

His issue with Jeff Sachs apparently has to do with dead cars and magnetos, which indicates that he may not be entirely up to date with respect to cars, and is baffled by automotive engineering, since they don’t have magnetos any more. It’s beginning to appear that Paul Krugman is rather easily baffled, although some of us have known that for years.

Reading on, it seems that Paul’s car has a systemic electrical problem, bad brakes, a bad transmission and a dead battery. No mention of a magneto, which restores some hope for sanity, but leaves us wondering where the hell the title for the piece came from.

Judging from the context, Jeff Sachs appears to be critical of the “economic stimulus” theory of “let’s buy a new battery and drive the car with bad brakes and a bad transmission and hope the electrical problem doesn’t make the engine die in the middle of freeway traffic.” I’m inclined to agree with him, thinking that you’ve merely wasted the cost of a new battery.

Krugman posits that he is “not denying that the car may have other problems, even bad ones,” but that is just a rhetorical gambit to counter Jeff Sachs’ allegory, because he does not and has never admitted that there is anything wrong with our economic system. So his “what sense can it possibly make to say that therefore you shouldn’t start by replacing that dead battery?” will be followed, after the battery is replaced, by saying, “See, the car is running so we don’t need to do anything else.” That’s what Keynesians always do.

And, just as it did in 1958, 1960, 1969, 1973, 1980, 1981, 1990, 2001 and 2007, the car will have its engine quit in freeway traffic because all we did was buy a new battery.


bruce said...

Magneto is an older form of alternator, I think they call modern day alternators 'magnetos' in UK English.

We're still just limping along, however...

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