2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Krugman hits the nail again,
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This review is from: End This Depression Now! (Hardcover)About a year ago students (I think at Hamilton College, New York) did an informal survey of the predictions made by various media "pundits" (in the USA). They checked whether or not those pundit predictions actually came to pass. The predictions were mainly about economic and political matters and most of them turned out to be worse than you would expect to get by selecting some option with a pin (and your eyes shut). A few were better than chance and the best of the bunch was Paul Krugman. It is as well to remember that when we read the disdainful dismissal of his views which inevitably come from those on the political right - always delivered with an air of intellectual superiority - and without the aid of anything remotely resembling an intellect.
Krugman's style is informal and breezy which I thought quite entertaining and appropriate. I also found his argument and the evidence he offers in support, persuasive. It is not a difficult argument to understand and will come as no surprise to anyone who has been reading his column in the New York Times. He is perhaps a little over assertive and confident, but considering the opposition he faces from those who have total confidence and no evidence at all, and the ignorant criticism he has been subjected to over the years, his pugnacious attitude is understandable. My only serious criticism is that he gives only a one sentence reference to climate change (and related problems of population increase and resource exhaustion).
"Tribal allegiance should have no more to do with your views about macroeconomics than, say, your views on evolution or climate change ... hmm, maybe I'd better stop right there."
But climate change surely has a bearing on the argument about the policy we should adopt. It is not an issue which can be safely be dealt with later. An attempt to get back on to the path of (indiscriminate) growth is extremely dangerous. It also makes the case for government intervention more urgent. In the second world war, the design of the Spitfire was initially a private commercial venture, but when we needed Spitfires in large numbers, we did not hand money to the banks in the rather vague hope that some private commercial organisation might think there was a profit to be made in mass Spitfire construction. We just did it. And we need green energy, a low carbon infrastructure and good education now with much the same urgency.
The only economist I know about who has actually talked about the need to take climate change into account is Tim Jackson ("Prosperity without Growth").
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Initial post: 23 Jun 2012 16:48:41 BDT
Rob Julian says:
Great review! I agree strongly with the point you make about the absence of the climate change / perpetual growth issues in this book. He provides a possible route back to business (and consumption) as usual for the American consumer, without any hint that perhaps there might be problems with this scenario. Although Krugman's politics are broadly to the left, his Keynesian proposals will inevitably give the rich a further boost, while the positive impact on the working population will almost be a side effect. Borrowing money to make rich Americans even richer seems dubious from an environmental perspective.
P.S. For a book which deals with environmental / perpetual growth issues alongside our economic troubles see mine!
Competition Friendly Protectionism - How a Certain Kind of Protectionism Could Temper and Improve Globalisation
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