Yesterday, Harvard historian Niall Ferguson published the third of his three-part screed against Paul Krugman (also see parts one and two). In doing so, he named and shamed “a claque of like-minded bloggers” who often agree with Krugman. Obviously, impuning a handful of bloggers and academics really opens the door to an immediate avalanche of counter-posts by the named, which is what we got today.
In case you had trouble keeping up, here is where everyone stands:
For too long, Paul Krugman has exploited his authority as an award-winning economist and his power as a New York Times columnist to heap opprobrium on anyone who ventures to disagree with him. Along the way, he has acquired a claque of like-minded bloggers who play a sinister game of tag with him, endorsing his attacks and adding vitriol of their own. I would like to name and shame in this context Dean Baker, Josh Barro, Brad DeLong, Matthew O'Brien, Noah Smith, Matthew Yglesias and Justin Wolfers. Krugman and his acolytes evidently relish the viciousness of their attacks, priding themselves on the crassness of their language. But I should like to know what qualifies a figure like Matt O'Brien to call anyone a "disingenuous idiot"? What exactly are his credentials? 35,550 tweets? How does he essentially differ from the cranks who, before the Internet, had to vent their spleen by writing letters in green ink?
Some readers have been asking when I’m going to reply to certain rants aimed my way. The answer is, never.
Matt O’Brien, senior editor, the Atlantic:
And then there's Ferguson's bizarre jihad against Paul Krugman, along with his many "acolytes" (though we prefer to call ourselves Krugman's Killer Apps), for not being perfectly clairvoyant. I'm not sure why Ferguson thinks anybody should think less of Krugman for being bearish on the euro, which was entirely appropriate before Draghi's "whatever it takes" moment, and still might be. Least of all Ferguson, who himself has been ... pretty bearish on the euro. Unless that's the point? That agreeing with Ferguson shows that Krugman makes mistakes? It's not clear.
Finance professor and blogger Noah Smith:
My advice to Ferguson would be: Unless you're aiming for your legacy as a public intellectual to be "that British guy who constantly went after Paul Krugman", I'd suggest finding something else to write about. History, for example. I hear you're a very good historian.
Slate blogger Matt Yglesias:
Ferguson might want to consider a meta-rational approach in which he wonders if the range of people who disagree with him about such matters doesn't possibly reflect Ferguson's own wrongness rather than the vast reach of the Krugman conspiracy.
Business Insider politics editor Josh Barro:
Since the quick Google survey of my past writing on Ferguson turned up only one mildly critical post and six Tweets, I have concluded that I do not spend enough time writing mean blog posts about Niall Ferguson, and I will make sure to change that in the future.
Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research:
But it is hardly worth wasting time and killing electrons in a tit for tat with Ferguson. What matters is the underlying issues of economic policy. These affect the lives of billions of people. The absurdities pushed by Ferguson and like-minded people in positions of power, in direct defiance of massive evidence to the contrary, have ruined millions of lives and cost the world more than $10 trillion in lost output since the crisis began.
There are a couple of really funny things about this little exchange. The first is Niall Ferguson throwing around “unedited” like an insult, when he’s on “Morning Joe” to discuss a series of blog posts he’s published at the Huffington Post.