SW is someone who cares a great deal for the vanity of Econ-his personal vanity is all caught up in Econ's vanity. So in truth he may have let the cat out of the bag with this comment about Sumner's project:
"It will be a cold day in hell when the Fed adopts NGDP targeting. Just as the Fed likes the Taylor rule, as it confirms the Fed's belief in the wisdom of its own actions, the Fed will not buy into a policy rule that makes its previous actions look stupid."
Bear in mind what Williamson said in the comments section too:
"The Fed is you and your buddies. Every institution does this. There's an implicit agreement that you always defend the institution. The institution does not like people who don't do that."
In that sense, his sudden skepticism about Sumner is the same place he gets his disdain for Krugman-it's about defending the institution. In this same vein we can better understand where such trifling,, petty comments of this come from:
"One senses a tone of frustration in Krugman's post. He seems to think that the world should be on his "side," but even people who have only a vague idea of what practicing macroeconomists are up to aren't responding well to his message. Krugman's post is in part a response to Diane Coyle, who writes:
Paul Krugman in his new book End This Depression Now plainly thinks those who disagree with him about a fiscal stimulus now are blithering idiots. OK, maybe I am, but it’s not a good tactic to win me over in the debate."I also ran across this New Yorker piece, which includes a conversation with Tom Sargent, and this comment:
Sargent has a halting, poker-faced manner and a tinge of California in his voice (he’s from Pasadena), which makes him seem laid-back and self-effacing. He’s no Paul Krugman."Krugman is all about self-promotion and the demonization of straw men, and I think that's obvious to most people. So there's hope."
Oh, do you think there's frustration in Krugman? Maybe that's better than vacuous complacency when so many out there hurting and SW is so proud of his "Modern Macro"-ie, post Lucas Macro.
What I think SW also is regarding Krugman is absurdly obsessed. The name of this post was "Macroeconomic Thought is Driven By Politics"
Krugman probably more than anyone who is part of establishment Macro tends to offend those who defend the institution at all cost. Indeed, the Stephen Williamsons of this world will never forgive Krugman the day he said this:
"Do we need better macroeconomics? Indeed we do. But we also need better critics, who are prepared to take the risk of actually taking sides for good economics and against dogmatism."
Of course SW's message is we don't need better Macro we should love it just as it it. Remember that Krugman is one of them, and this is why they take his attacks so seriously-when a Galbraith or Stiglitz goes off the reservation it's a little different-they really were never on the reservation in the first place-it's easy just to say 'these guys aren't real economists anyway.' Krugman in his time has played this game, by no means is he wholly innocent. In the 90s he regularly did this-he'd go after Gailbrath for "stylized attacks" based too much on empirical facts and not rigorously based in established models. In this crisis though he has been the establishment voice that has been most honest.
In this same vein, Krugman has done it again with a recent post about Obama's-politically very effective attacks-on Romney:
"In any case, however, Romney wasn’t that kind of businessman. He didn’t build businesses, he bought and sold them – sometimes restructuring them in ways that added jobs, often in ways that preserved profits but destroyed jobs, and fairly often in ways that extracted money for Bain but killed the business in the process."
"And recently the Washington Post added a further piece of information: Bain invested in companies that specialized in helping other companies get rid of employees, either in the United States or overall, by outsourcing work to outside suppliers and offshoring work to other countries."
"The Romney camp went ballistic, accusing the Post of confusing outsourcing and offshoring, but this is a pretty pathetic defense. For one thing, there weren’t any actual errors in the article. For another, it’s simply not true, as the Romney people would have you believe, that domestic outsourcing is entirely innocuous. On the contrary, it’s often a way to replace well-paid employees who receive decent health and retirement benefits with low-wage, low-benefit employees at subcontracting firms. That is, it’s still about redistribution from middle-class Americans to a small minority at the top.
Arguably, that’s just business – but it’s not the kind of business that makes you especially want to see Romney as president."
"Or put it a different way: Romney wasn’t so much a captain of industry as a captain of deindustrialization, making big profits for his firm (and himself) by helping to dismantle the implicit social contract that used to make America a middle-class society."
This post, among elitist Macro has gone what they call "viral." So it's not just Romney that is ballistic but the whole of elitist Macro. Sumner already took a swipe at Krugman's post-he artfully sugarcoated it by agreeing with Krugman about something else first. Now I come across this discussion between Noah Smith and Karl Smith on Twitter. Basically Karl is also piqued about Krugman's piece.
He thinks that Macro needs to respond-and is urging Noah to be first. Noah is known as a progressive and certainly Karl's rep is not of an ultra conservative either but he feels on this piece of Krugman-and 'there are others' he cryptically emphasizes-it's important for Macro to speak as one against Krugman's "bad economics" in that post.
From their tweets maybe Noah has qualms. Karl seems to think some kind of "message" needs to be delivered by Macro. It never occurred to me-seriously-but are Karl and Noah actually related? It would make sense.
UPDATE: For the record Noah Smith has explained to me that he wasn't talking to Karl Smith here but Adam Ozimek-it's confusing as Adam and Karl have the same twitter account. Also let's be clear Noah wasn't agreeing with Adam uncritically. He made my point that Krugman is not really attacking Free Trade as such or even private equity as such just questioning it's social value and its value in experience for who you want to vote for President.
Here was Sumner. We'll see where the next knock on Krugman comes from:
"On the other hand I’m less impressed with Krugman’s transition from a 1990s defender of economic orthodoxy (the whole point of trade is to destroy jobs by boosting productivity) to a 21st century supporter of the lump of labor fallacy."
Yep. This is pretty much the stock and trade of anyone who breaks orthodoxy-accuse him of something real nasty. Mind you Krugman didn't actually say anything like this. Really, Krugman didn't say anything more than Romney's experience at Bain far from makes him a shoo in. It seems that Macro is so ultra sensitive about this that they read Krugman as attacking Free Trade as such rather than just saying that Romney's record at Bain is not necessarily so impressive-how can we know as he refuses to supply us with any relevant information of his time at Bain?-and that it surely doesn't in itself mean he has some deep "understanding of the economy."
Are the Macro guys saying that they believe it does give him this deep understanding?
So it is that elite Macro has become Romney's last best chance-his Great White Hope! No doubt the success in Obama's attacks on Bain have really rankled them-especially that it has given the President such success. They can try and it will be interesting what Noah, Karl or the rest of the gang come up with later; however I doubt they will change public opinion. Actually Sumner himself has been saying this recently that "there is no such thing as public opinion" at least he insists, on economic matters.
I think public opinion is speaking fairly clearly here. And to think that Stephen Williamson is outraged at the suggestion that macroeconomics has any political agenda!
Romney's base-spoiled princess "pity me" billionaires like the ones crying in their Chardonnay on Sunday and elite mainstream Macro. No wonder they hate democracy.