by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Regular readers in this forum have seen plenty of examples of scorn and ridicule heaped upon über-Keynesian economist Paul Krugman. But, without conducting a site search to be certain, this observer suspects that no “Locker Room” contributor ever has called Krugman the “mean girl of economics.”
Kyle Smith applies that label in a Forbes column.
Reading Paul Krugman isn’t like reading most other economists. In a field whose notoriously poor track record in predicting the future (or even quantifying what has already happened) tends to generate a becoming modesty, he is utterly certain about everything. Breaking with the fraternal nature of the academic community, he is extraordinarily combative. Ever-snarky but never witty, his writing emits a sour smell of contempt.
Another way he stands out among academics: He repeatedly cites the authority of the mob as support for his positions.
This is an odd tactic for someone who would impress upon you the empirical rigor of his thinking. Like a Mean Girl given to saying, “Everyone is wearing wedges this summer” or “the in-crowd knows that animal prints are super-hot right now,” he is an alpha who is constantly looking over his shoulder to reassure himself that a pack is following closely behind. At times reading “The Conscience of a Liberal” is like a dip into the psychodrama of Teen Vogue or “Glee.”
Not long ago, Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw (who mentions Krugman solely in respectful, grownup terms, as one professional to another) published a thoughtful and reasoned defense of the most successful Americans, the so-called one-percenters. Krugman began his remarks with, “A number of people have already piled on to Greg Mankiw.” It was like writing,, “Did you know everyone is talking about how Emily looked fat in that Empire waist dress?”