Sorkin Vs. Krugman: It All Comes Down To Defining A Swedish Model

Jennifer Palm Lundberg


As Henry Blodget noted yesterday evening, Andrew Ross Sorkin is refusing to back down in his spat with fellow NYT-mate Paul Krugman.(To recap: Andrew Ross Sorkin described Krugman as having favoured nationalization of the entire banking system during the crisis. Krugman freaked out and demanded an apology. After running through Krugman’s archives, we concluded that Krugman was right, he never called for total nationalization, and in fact explicitly said he did not favour that.)

Here’s our quick take:

In Sorkin’s rebuttal he cited the following three articles of Krugman’s

  • A February 12, 2009 op-ed in the Washington Post penned with Nouriel Roubini favouring Swedish-style nationalization.
  • A September 28, 2008 blog post favouring Swedish-style nationalization.
  • A February 23, 2009 column, in which Krugman says: “Why not just go ahead and nationalize?”

Here’s the thing. Sorkin is right in the sense that Krugman did favour a drastic nationalization scheme that was unlike anything we actually did. It wasn’t total nationalization, but if you’re looking for a major public figure to set up as a contrast to Geithner, both Krugman and Roubini fit the mould. There’s just no upside to exaggerating.

That being said… Sorkin might still make the argument that contra Krugman’s claim, favouring the Swedish model does in fact imply a total system nationalization. We’re not sure. Obviously the actual Swedish model was never going to translate to our system perfectly, but we suppose that if we get to semantics, Sorkin might still argue that total nationalization of banking is a reasonable definition of a Swedish-model bailout.

And now, we’re pretty sure everyone is bored with this story, but just think how preferable this is, to what we were debating in March of 2009, when it really did look like the world could implode.

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