Krugman Accused of 'Spectacularly Uncivil Behavior'

Image: Krugman Accused of 'Spectacularly Uncivil Behavior'

Monday, 27 May 2013 11:43 AM

By Audrey Hudson

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A pair of Harvard economists have accused controversial New York Times columnist Paul Krugman of “spectacularly uncivil behavior” in a dispute over the effects of massive government debt on the future of growth.

“We admire your past scholarly work, which influences us to this day. So it has been with deep disappointment that we have experienced your spectacularly uncivil behavior the past few weeks,” says a letter to the scribe from Kenneth Rogoff and Carmen Reinhart.

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“You have attacked us in very personal terms, virtually nonstop, in your New York Times column and blog posts,” the economists said.

The brawl between scholars, described in a Wall Street Journal article, erupted over a piece Krugman penned for the New York Review of Books, in which he says the economists “lost their canonized status” and have become “objects of much ridicule.”

The economists’ paper was published in 2010, titled “Growth in a Time of Debt,” and concluded that post-World War II levels of public debt that topped 90 percent of a country’s gross domestic product (GDP) created years of slow economic growth.

The Harvard economists argued that governments should cut spending in order to prevent such a crisis from reoccurring. Krugman, who is also an economist, typically argues in his columns for more government spending, particularly in the case of entitlement programs.

“Notably, they continue to write in a way that suggests, without stating outright, that debt at 90 percent of GDP is some kind of threshold at which bad things happen,” Krugman wrote.

Rogoff and Reinhart countered that Krugman’s characterization was “selective and shallow” and “deeply misleading.”

Meanwhile, Krugman has dismissed the economists’ challenge as meaningless: “This could go on forever, and both they and I have other things to do.”

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