As we noted earlier, Paul Krugman and Niall Ferguson have effectively been co-branded as rivals, with one playing the Washington Generals to the other’s Harlem Globetrotters (you can pick which is which).They’ve been taking their feud to various outlets on kind of a travelling tour, and it’s been a nice way for the public to understand the contours of the debate surrounding America’s supposed debt crisis.
And yet, the more we listen to them, the less they really sound that different.
The latest round really drives that home.
In this interview, Ferguson expressed his dismay that Bernanke hasn’t already done a lot more to counter deflation.
And that just happened to be the exact same message from Krugman’s latest op-ed.
It’s uncanny how closely they see eye-to-eye on monetary policy.
Ok, well at least on fiscal policy they can’t stand each other, right?
Well again, there’s a lot less than meets the eye. First of all, as he expresses here, Ferguson isn’t even calling for violent austerity measures. He’s not calling for aggressive, across-the-board cuts to spending (he’s more interested in flensing public sector fat, dealing with pensions, etc.), and he’s certainly not in favour of any tax hikes to close the deficit. In fact he favours cuts.
And though Krugman is calling for more stimulus, he doesn’t think that it’s even possible under the current political climate, meaning he’s putting all his hopes in monetary stimulus, which is where he and Ferguson are in agreement.
So in the one area that matters they agree, and in the one area that’s academic, they disagree modestly. But hey, fighting makes for such good TV!
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