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When I noticed that Paul Krugman, aka Krugtron the Invincible, wasn't going to bother with Niall Ferguson's turgid jeremiad at HuffPo, I thought I could step into the breach. Except it turns out, the work has already been done. A veritable link forest below.

First, I should mention one point Krugman concedes he was, so far, wrong on: Greece and Spain are still in the Eurozone. But, as he points out, his economic predictions about the effect of Austerity were correct. Where he was mistaken was the political expectation that Depression-level unemployment would force the Greek government to drastic action like withdrawal from the Euro. Even here, of course, Ferguson's triumph may be short-lived.

But onward: anyone who wants to know what sort of debased, deceitful wreck of an intellectual Ferguson is should check out Noah Smith, Smith again, Smith's most recent, Matt O'Brien, O'Brien twice, Ezra Klein, Joe Weisenthal, James Fallows, Politico, Josh Barro, Ramesh Ponnuru, Dan Drezner, Michael Lind, Andrew Sullivan (plus at least four Sullivan follow-ups to this link) [these last five authors are conservatives or libertarians].

It says something about the importance of Harvard in our culture that the ravings of one of their professors gets so much attention. It also says something about the emptiness of American intellectual conservatism that this is what they have on offer: Limbaugh with a British accent.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Is someone still listening to Niall? (9+ / 0-)

    I thought his only response these days was a chorus of crickets.

  •  Oh Lord. (14+ / 0-)
    I am not an economist. I am an economic historian.
    So says Niall Ferguson. Well, Niall, maybe that would be more clear if you'd stop wading into various contemporary policy issues!

    The guy has been discredited time and time again. He's the David Horowitz of economics. He has nothing to say, only something to sell.

    it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses

    by Addison on Sat Oct 12, 2013 at 07:36:16 PM PDT

  •  The Michael Lind piece is hilarious (19+ / 0-)

    "What accounts for the attention lavished by the American media on a huckster as vulgar and shallow as Niall Ferguson? His accent surely is part of the explanation. Only a combined lack of personal and national self-confidence can explain the way that America’s publishers and producers — many of them insecure, upwardly mobile social climbers — will fawn over a mediocre British pundit or pop historian whom they would completely ignore if he were Tony Zacarelli from Long Island or Fred Huffernagel from Oregon"

    "The mass extinction of America’s intellectual right at the hands of anti-intellectual Jacksonian populists like the Tea Partyers has created a lack of native conservative thinkers with impressive academic credentials who are willing to dash to a TV studio at a moment’s notice. And in an era when the conservative movement is symbolized by lightweights like Glenn Beck, Ann Coulter and Jonah Goldberg, rather than William F. Buckley Jr., George Will and Irving Kristol, even Niall Ferguson can be mistaken for an intellectual."

    All pretty well on target.  

    •  Beautifully said. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eyesoars, Gemina13, buffie

      Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

      by JoanMar on Sat Oct 12, 2013 at 08:44:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Andrew Lazarus, Gemina13, buffie

      I follow Krugman's blog, and followed links from there to the Smith, O'Brien, and Barro pieces, but I'd missed the Lind piece.

      Definitely the funniest and deadliest.

    •  They are all lightweights (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gemina13, hestal, eyesoars, semiot

      In dealing with the Right, even the most articulate, and reading their most persuasive essays I'm constantly impressed with their lack of substance.

      Conservatives seem to be without principles, calling what guides them a philosophy seems to be giving them far more distinction than they deserve. Rather their thought seems to be nothing more than crumbs and shards raked together from various sources-- Hobbes, Locke, Smith (invisible hand leading towards utopia), Marx (economic determinism), Freud (where they get their constant urge to play on middle class fear) and numerous others -- and shaped together into a formless mass which they mold to the desired situation. There is no philosophical system on the Right, rather only cynical opportunism masquerading as coherent thought, a fig leaf of virtue to hide their whoring ways.

      The Right is all about obtaining power and cashing in (see Sarah Palin), and in this way they mimic the Russian Bolsheviks quest for power more than anything American, which was why referring to them as Busheviks fit so well.

      It is no wonder that Intel agents sell out their country in such an atmosphere.

      "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

      by kuvasz on Sat Oct 12, 2013 at 09:06:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  J. K. Galbraith had it right... (0+ / 0-)

        "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

        I.e., sophistry as philosophy.

    •  Ferguson is what the Victorians would have called (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      a  "plunger."

      From George MacDonald Fraser, Flashman (1969):

      'Oh,' he says, 'a plunger is a fellow who makes a great turnout, don't you know, and leaves cards at the best houses, and is sought by the mamas, and strolls in the Park very languid, and is just a hell of a swell generally. Sometimes they even condescend to soldier a little--when it doesn't interfere with their social life. Good-day, Mr Flashman.'

    •  It's been said that if a person talks with a Brit (0+ / 0-)

      accent, the savvy listener subtracts 50 points from the speaker's assumed IQ. If it's a southern (US) accent, one should add 50 points.

      Courage is contagious. - Daniel Ellsberg

      by semiot on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 08:58:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  After all he is British swine and that counts for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eyesoars, Gemina13

    something, I guess:   tasteless pork.

  •  I am no Krugman fan but I really (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    librarisingnsf, buffie

    despise Niall Ferguson. He is so puffed up with his own sense of importance that it is just painful to watch him interacting with lesser mortals.
    The fact that he is on the wrong side of history makes it that much harder to listen to His Royal Smugness.

    Maya Angelou: "Without courage, we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can't be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest."

    by JoanMar on Sat Oct 12, 2013 at 08:42:44 PM PDT

  •  I have studied Paul Krugman’s columns and blog (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    yella dawg, newfie, semiot, LamontCranston

    posts ever since the Bush Crash. He has published hundreds of the former and thousands of the latter. Someone should write a book about the arc of his ideas and predictions during that period.

    In addition, I have made it a point to go to other economic blogs that criticize Krugman. If their posts do not challenge him explicitly I move on, but there have been plenty of challenges, including those from Niall Ferguson. I became aware of Ferguson while watching Book TV several years ago. He was presenting a new book of his. I do this kind of thing religiously, and have purchased many books because of it that I would otherwise not have known about. On some occasions, the author can persuade me not to buy his book, and Ferguson has always done this.

    Anyhow, I have paid close attention to Krugman’s predictions, and they have one consistent underlying flaw: he is an optimist. He cannot help it. He knows the dire consequences of many of our world’s economic policies and he writes about them with great clarity. But sometimes he lets his optimism get in his way. He sometimes believes that policymakers will do the right thing, and that is what happened with Greece and the Euro. He simply thought that they would do the right thing and drop the Euro. But he was wrong about that.  His economic theories produce a stellar record of predictions compared to everyone else that I read. However his economic theories do not include a good understanding of human nature. He forgets that policymakers, of all political persuasions, resort to doing stupid, selfish things when they get power, especially where money is concerned, and even more especially when their personal fortunes are at stake. He does not include this function in his thinking.

    In general, Krugman is right far more often than his critics. In fact, I would be safe in saying that he is right almost always, and they are wrong almost always. Part of Krugman’s success is based on his high regard for Keynesianism. I was introduced to Keynesianism as a boy in the immediate aftermath of WWII. My father and an uncle took opposite sides of the economic divide back then and they debated the differences almost weekly until I went away to college eleven years later. The net of all this is that Keynes is the greatest economist to date. His ideas were right, and his predictions grew from those ideas. His predictions were on a global scale and he proclaimed them to the world—and he was right. He actually wrote a book predicting WWII would come about due to the economic punishments that the victors forced upon the losers of WWI. Out of those ideas came Keynesianism and the contrary ideas of Hayek, which is a discussion for another time.

    So, out of the cacophony of economic forecasters that come at us daily, the one to follow is Paul Krugman. Keynes would do it if he were alive today.

    Might and Right are always fighting, in our youth it seems exciting. Right is always nearly winning, Might can hardly keep from grinning. -- Clarence Day

    by hestal on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 04:22:55 AM PDT

    •  And didn't we handle the WWII (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      losers differently?  And look how that turned out.  But if we had the politicians then that we do now, we'd have used the WWI approach.  Righteousness knows no other way since the righteous have no faults and are their ways are always best.  Don't bother them with evidence.

      "I'm not left wing because i'm ideological, or passionate, or angry. I'm left wing because I'm informed." - Mikesco

      by newfie on Sun Oct 13, 2013 at 08:09:32 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Niall? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Andrew Lazarus

    It says something about the importance of Harvard in our culture that the ravings of one of their professors gets so much attention.

    Harvard's loss is Oxford's gain!!

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