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Hullabaloo


Monday, July 07, 2014

 
Ain't history a bitch?

by digby

Krugman revisits the recent past. And it doesn't look good for the usual suspects:

On the eve of the Great Recession, many conservative pundits and commentators — and quite a few economists — had a worldview that combined faith in free markets with disdain for government. Such people were briefly rocked back on their heels by the revelation that the “bubbleheads” who warned about housing were right, and the further revelation that unregulated financial markets are dangerously unstable. But they quickly rallied, declaring that the financial crisis was somehow the fault of liberals — and that the great danger now facing the economy came not from the crisis but from the efforts of policy makers to limit the damage.

Above all, there were many dire warnings about the evils of “printing money.” For example, in May 2009 an editorial in The Wall Street Journal warned that both interest rates and inflation were set to surge “now that Congress and the Federal Reserve have flooded the world with dollars.” In 2010 a virtual Who’s Who of conservative economists and pundits sent an open letter to Ben Bernanke warning that his policies risked “currency debasement and inflation.” Prominent politicians like Representative Paul Ryan joined the chorus.

Reality, however, declined to cooperate. Although the Fed continued on its expansionary course — its balance sheet has grown to more than $4 trillion, up fivefold since the start of the crisis — inflation stayed low. For the most part, the funds the Fed injected into the economy simply piled up either in bank reserves or in cash holdings by individuals — which was exactly what economists on the other side of the divide had predicted would happen.

Needless to say, it’s not the first time a politically appealing economic doctrine has been proved wrong by events. So those who got it wrong went back to the drawing board, right? Hahahahaha.

The problem is that instead of taking a look at their assumptions and trying to figure out where they went wrong, they just keep on assuming. After all, someday their prediction is bound to come true. Then they will insist they were right all along.
It's a corollary to George W. Bush's insistence that if peace ever comes to the middle east --- even if it's a hundred years from now --- it will be proof that everything he did was right. (This is why he's so serene these days, by the way ...)

It's all faith-based:
[I]t turns out that money is indeed a kind of theological issue. Many on the right are hostile to any kind of government activism, seeing it as the thin edge of the wedge — if you concede that the Fed can sometimes help the economy by creating “fiat money,” the next thing you know liberals will confiscate your wealth and give it to the 47 percent. Also, let’s not forget that quite a few influential conservatives, including Mr. Ryan, draw their inspiration from Ayn Rand novels in which the gold standard takes on essentially sacred status.

And if you look at the internal dynamics of the Republican Party, it’s obvious that the currency-debasement, return-to-gold faction has been gaining strength even as its predictions keep failing.
Sadly, when it comes to economics it's faith in the turgid prose of a wild-eyed, Dexie-popping, chain smoking, half baked novelist whose philosophical world view was shaped by her sexual fantasies. And they call themselves conservative...

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