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Thursday, July 16, 2009

William Anderson criticizes Krugman

Austrian economists do not respond negatively to what Krugman says because we “hate” government for “ideological” reasons (even though most of us look askance at government and its coercive ways), but rather because we understand the differences between private and government spending. They are not mirror images of each other, no matter what Krugman says.

In the Keynesian viewpoint, all assets and all capital are homogeneous. It does not matter if one spends money on a “bridge to nowhere” or invests in a new line of production; what is important is that money is spent.

Furthermore, in Keynesian thinking, as long as there are “idle resources,” then government spending — if it is enough and enough money is printed — ultimately can result in “full employment” of those resources. Why those resources might be idle in the first place is not up for discussion; the important thing is that government “stimulates” enough spending to put those resources back to work.

This is short-sighted and crude analysis. In the real world, capital matters, for it is in the development of capital that we make workers more productive, thus increasing individual wealth and the overall standard of living in a society. Capital spending is not just money dropped from a helicopter; it is undertaken for a specific productive purpose.

Austrians hold that typical Fed-created credit booms are not sustainable and that when once-productive assets become idle in the downturn, it is because the capital was malinvested. Granted, to understand the entire concept of malinvestment, one must be able to differentiate between the kinds of capital investment that can be sustained and what will have to be abandoned. Keynesians, unfortunately, have decided to ignore that kind of thinking or unilaterally to declare it “discredited.”
--from "The Lowdown on Crude Keynesianism / Keynesian "economists" push a second stimulus" by William Anderson

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