Austrian Economist Bob Murphy PHD (author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism), has challenged Paul Krugman to a debate about the business cycle. Krugman claims he is 'too busy', but the folks at KrugmanDebate.com don't buy that, so are pledging money to a food bank in New York if Krugman agrees to the debate. They have so far raised over $100,000 for the food bank. Think he'll never debate Murphy? All the more reason to donate - you are not charged until the debate takes place.
To find out more and take a pledge, go to:
What's a Nobel Prize winning economist got to be afraid of debating an 'antiquated' Austrian?
I am donating, it would be funny to see Krugman wipe the floor with Murphy. It can only be positive, Austrian economics is one of those standpoints that sounds better the less you consider it because it is very instinctual compared to more advanced systems.
Krugman is an academic whose ideas are seldom publically challenged, not only that but he has the uncritical support of an adoring mainstream media. He has reason to fear a debate with any competant economist who hasn't succumbed to leftwing Keynesian myths.
He also has reason to not bother, because he has nothing to gain by it.
He has the gain of publicly refuting Austrian economics. If he is so confident in his ideas this should be attractive to him. He also has the potential loss of being vilified for not debating when there is potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars that is not going to the food-bank. The more you donate, the more likely the debate will occur!
There are always more marginal figures wanting to debate more conventional ones. The risk:benefit analysis generally gives the conventional figure little to gain. So being rational, they don't do it. This seems like just another example of someone wanting to storm the tower, and the tower being unmoved.
I posit that Bob Murphy and the Austrian school are not some fringe schmoes, but a legitimate and growing force in the world of economics. My opinion doesn't matter so much, but the test of your theory is through the mechanism of charity. $100,000 is quite a lot of money already, but surely a high price indicates a popular enough demand for debate.
You may posit that, but does Krugman?
A lot of money that may indicate a popular demand. Or that Murphy had $100,000 to risk improving his business, exchanging it for recognition of his importance in the hopes it will increase his own revenue.
Krugman probably doesn't, but as I intimated, individual opinions on it are largely immaterial.
The current total is made up of personal donations from everybody. Murphy is as self-interested as the next-guy. However, Austrians are absolutely starved for debate with mainstream economists, so he is providing a service. And Josak is one of Krugman's side who wish to see a debate too.
I'd have to say that that particular individual (Krugman) opinion is probably more important that all the others put together!
You may be right that the debate would provide a service - to Austrians. Not to Krugman, which is what he cares about. That's the point - the returns to Krugman are minimal to negative, so why do it?
Well, there is the fact that the longer he refuses, the bigger the pledge will get and the worse he seems for not accepting. The perception of his charitable nature must be worth something!
I go to the site and see boxing style hyperbole and rampant self-promotion. I think: if these people have money to give to charity, it would be petty of them to withhold it because some guy in a suit won't go to a debate.
So it goes both ways.
The worse he seems to Austrians, that want the debate, anyway. Not necessarily the people that are filling his pockets - they probably don't want their cash cow tarnished any more that Krugman does.
You also have the potential that Murphy could destroy himself by doing this; if Krugman steadfastly refuses to debate him then it is "obvious" (in poli speak) that Murphy isn't worthy of debate. That it's just all a PR ploy to get airtime.
Unfortunately such people on both sides of this don't deal in realities; they deal in perceptions and how well they can manipulate and game them.
If the purpose is to promote austrian economics, there is no harm at playing them at their own game. If Krugman won't debate out of intellectual rigorousness, he can debate for charity. For years there has been a huge demand for such a debate, and the best we've got is a 10 minute segment with Ron Paul on the news. In the scholarly spirit, this debate should have happened years ago, and multiple times since then. It's time for the austrians to take the front foot, I think, so I support the idea.
Ron Paul "debated" Murphy? Or Krugman?
You're absolutely right that such debates are a good thing, but the political reality is that the whole thing will be gamed for political "points". I'm guessing of course, but it's how the system works. Keep the Austrians out of the arena and you won't have any competition from them. Debate them and you give them a foot in the door to potentially take away your own glory (and $$).
What's good for the people or the field itself is irrelevant; only what's good for the powerful people at the top is what matters.
So yeah - support it for all you can. It would be a good thing to see and have. Just don't get your hopes up too much.
He debated Krugman, but it wasn't a very well structured one fit into a tiny time-frame by a talking-point driven host. That's not an excuse for Ron's performance BTW, I think he did well considering the circumstances.
You're probably right about how it's going to be shaped, but, at least it would be getting people talking about the ideas. It's why I supported Ron Paul's Presidential campaign even though I am anti-political - it's just about getting your foot in the door, as you say.
I did not say "fringe schmoe. I said marginal. As in, not currently at the center.
No matter how much you might want him to engage there are valid and rational reasons for him to refuse. As I expect he will. The more it becomes a spectacle, the less beneficial it would be for him to get involved.
And in case you think I support conventional economics, I don't. I especially oppose the innate growth goal in modern economics. But I know that people act according to self interest (what's in it for me?) not because of 'school yard dare' tactics (do it or you're a pussy, do it or you stop a charity from getting money etc).
Figures with conventional standing have nothing to gain from taking part in such things. They are currently 'king of the hill' and benefit most by just staying there.
Indeed...when you are a left wing hack you won't bother with anything that you don't see political gain from.
I'm not saying I agree with this line of reasoning, but to Krugman, it may be something similar to how some biologists refuse to debate creationists.
The argument goes that debating people who hold irrational views legitimizes them, and portrays to the audience that there are two or more sides to a debate, when in fact, there are not. He probably sees Austrian economics as fundamentally refuted, and so engaging in a debate with an Austrian wouldn't be on his radar.
I don't know. I can't read his mind. He could just be scared .
Well if that is his reasoning, it doesn't make sense to me. It's better to debate with people who are only a little bit wrong rather than those who are completely wrong?
I don't agree with it. It's what Richard Dawkins claims about debating certain people.
My thinking is like yours in a way. I think Krugman should debate almost anyone who is an "expert" in economics. Obviously this wouldn't include Joe blow in the street, but someone like Murphy would qualify.
Of course, Krugman wouldn't have to pretend he thought the Austrian position was a legitimate one. He doesn't have to pretend to give Murphy legitimacy by using a serious tone. He could be sarcastic or dismissive if he believes that's the best way to get his point across. But he shouldn't refuse to debate. He debated Joe Scarborough, who is just a former Republican Congressman with a TV Show. Murphy would be much more qualified than he.
This doesn't mean the Austrian school is necessarily wrong. An Austrian could believe Krugman's ideas have been completely refuted, and take the same course of action.
For purposes of enlightenment and understanding, it would be best to stick to attacking the arguments in as neutral a tone as possible.
I've had some experience debating economics with Austrians, and the problem is that you are debating against circular logic, and they tend to hold their views with a religious fervor. Once treed, they fall back on their belief that everything would be better if things were done their way, and "malinvestment" and "government interference" are not only the problem, but they are masking the problem from everybody but the Austrians - who, of course, can see right through the haze. Problem for the Austrians is that the economy does not work the way they would like it to. They are describing an imaginary scenario, not the real one.
I think there is something to the legitimacy argument as well. Austrian economics are not even close to mainstream. It's a seductive school of thought, and it has a rabid following of amateur economists, but they don't fare well against data. But even so, its followers would be claiming victory no matter what happened in a debate.
I can't speak for the Austrians who you've debated with, and their debate methods, but this has not been my experience. Since we are living in such economically illiterate times, I consider 'not even close to the mainstream' a compliment.
Well, when you are debating something like economics, instead of religion or philosophy, there is tangible stuff that you can talk about. "Mainstream" then becomes the most accurate, or at least the most reality-based, system, and "economically illiterate," to my way of thinking, means "unknowledgable about how things actually work" - which, no doubt, is a huge problem. For example, in reality, the government controls interest rates by participating in bond auctions. Austrians, though, insist on talking about interest rates as if they float according to supply and demand. This is the kind of thing that Krugman would be up against.
Austrians are not empiricists, but use a praxeological framework to understand economics, so this is why they refer to what can be logically inferred from market actions first, and stats and charts second.
Applying this to interest rates: Austrians understand perfectly well that the government controls interest rates, but also understand that they are still subject to the market (that is, after all, why the Fed does it) and has real-world effects on market behaviours. The conclusion we can draw from the Fed's lowering of interest rates is that it will create a bubble that will inevitably burst when creditors and debtors realise that it is unaffordable. Using this method they have been uncannily accurate in their economic predictions.
That's the other thing - the "inevitable problem down the road." It's hard to argue with that, because Austrians always insist that, eventually, they will be proven right.
In the end, it all boils down to whether or not you believe in the Austrian religion.
They are consistently being proven right. Any fool can predict that something bad will happen sometime in the future, but can they predict exactly what will happen and how? The only economists predicting that the housing bubble would cause a collapse like it did, years ahead, were the austrians. Krugman couldn't see it when he was advocating a housing bubble, and obviously neither did the MMT economists.
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