Debate of the Century: Krugman vs. Murphy

I’m taking time out today to give kudos to my friend Bob Murphy–author, speaker, and economist extraordinaire–who is making important contributions to the ongoing national debate about the state of our nation’s economy and how to get it back on track.

Bob is one of the best out there at communicating the theories of the Austrian school, particularly its theory of the business cycle, on both the scholarly and popular levels (see, for example, his Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal). He even helped me out when I provoked James Galbraith into commenting on this blog a while back. Recently he has gotten some attention on CNBC and elsewhere for a project that is raising money for charity in an attempt to persuade Paul Krugman, the country’s best-known Keynesian, to come down from his perch at the editorial page of the New York Times and actually debate someone on business cycle theory.

Well, it seems that Bob may be getting some traction in his mission, because Krugman has finally taken notice of him on his blog. It’s pretty rich that Krugman tries to group Bob with Republicans, and that he accuses Bob of hurling “puerile insults” at him when Bob’s article contains nothing of the sort. (And anyway, Dr. Krugman, what would you call it when you have repeatedly said that Austrian economists subscribe to the economic equivalent of the phlogiston theory of fire? An adage about glass houses comes to mind.)

I can’t figure out whether Krugman really just doesn’t understand Austrian theory, or whether he is deliberately misrepresenting it. I’m not an economist, but even I know that Austrian theory accounts for several of the supposedly fatal objections Krugman raises against it, and without recourse to “cosmic talk.” I would love to see a real debate between these two guys so that the air would be cleared of some this nonsense, and I hope Krugman will take the trouble to understand what he is arguing against.

So congratulations, Bob, and good luck in your quest!

About Dr. J

I am Professor of Humanities at Faulkner University, where I chair the Department of Humanities and direct online M.A. and Ph.D. programs based on the Great Books of Western Civilization. I am also Associate Editor of the Journal of Faith and the Academy and a member of the faculty at Liberty Classroom.
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