Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Keynesian?

Paul Krugman claims to be of the “Keynesian School” of economics. I am by no means any kind of economic scholar, but I do know three things about what John Maynard Keynes advocated.

*Deficit spending (on infrastructure) in times of economic stress.
*Repayment of government debt in economic good times.
*That inflation was greatly not to be desired.

Keynes once said that, “Lenin is said to have declared that the best way to destroy the Capitalist System was to debauch the currency. By a continuing process of inflation, governments can confiscate, secretly and unobserved, an important part of the wealth of their citizens.”

Krugman is on board with the first tenet of Keynes’ theory, although he’s not all that big on limiting the spending to infrastructure. He thinks government should spend money on pretty much anything that can be bought, and should do so essentially all the time.

He is not only not big on repaying debt, he specifically says that it is stupid, is a virtue that is not rewarded and that governments should never do it. I find it interesting that he does admit that it is a virtue, while advising against its indulgence. Typical government advisor, “Do not do the right thing, do that which best serves Wall Street.” Not in those words, of course.

And he is, of course, a big fan of inflation, seeing it as a form of economic growth and as a resolver of debt. To use my lawn mowing analogy of yesterday, if I charge you twice as much to mow your lawn and you charge me twice as much to mow my lawn, Krugman will cheer lustily and say that our economy has just doubled. Actually, of course, the exact same amount of lawn mowing is going on and our economy is unchanged. We just inflated the shit out it, and nobody gained anything in the process.

Krugman may or may not be an expert economist, I have no way of knowing, but he most certainly is not an advocate of Keynesian economic principles.

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