Twice a week, a gentleman named Paul Krugman writes a column for the New York Times Op-Ed page. This column almost invariably asserts that Europe must stimulate growth by printing vast amounts of money, and that the US should stimulate growth by printing vaster amounts of money than it already has. In fact, if Mr. Krugman has another topic, it is lost on me, but since I tired of reading the same column twice a week year-in and year-out, I may have missed one or two in dissimilar veins.
I do, however, check in on Mr. Krugman from time to time, in much the same way that one might examine a long-dead tree for signs of new growth, and today I was happy to find that he remains steadfast in his course.
Is Mr. Krugman correct? It had been generally acknowledged by economists that increasing the money supply to this degree would inevitably lead to inflation at a high level. But Mr. Krugman points out that we have been pumping money into the US economy at unprecedented levels historically, and that no inflation has occurred. Yet. Therefore the “inflation hawks” are wrong, and the Fed should immediately begin spewing dollars like an Icelandic volcano, which will create millions of new jobs, send domestic consumption soaring and usher in a new age of prosperity for all.
Because no inflation.
Yet: some years ago some learned folks produced computer models that warned us that the air was getting hotter, and that this was a Very Bad Thing. The models projected that by now the air would be much hotter, that Great Storms would occur with much greater frequency and of much greater ferocity, that Arctic sea ice would vanish completely, and that surging sea levels would threaten entire island nations.
But, in fact, the air hasn’t gotten any hotter for nineteen years now, “extreme weather events” have been more infrequent and less extreme, the ice in the Arctic is growing at a rapid rate, and at last notice, and England and Vanuatu remained uninundated. In fact, virtually all of the model predictions have failed to materialize, and yet many, many people — including Professor Krugman — insist that climate change is Settled Science, and that the day of reckoning, if somehow inexplicably postponed, will certainly come.
Actually, there have been some half-hearted attempts to explain the disappointing lack of heat, which generally involve the assertion that the missing heat has gone down deep in the ocean, and is hiding there.
Maybe that’s what has happened to all those dollars the Fed has been printing. Because for all the hooting and hollering about our economic “recovery,” more Americans are out of work than at any other time in the nation’s history, real income growth is negative and poverty rates are rising.
Mr. Krugman, do you see any problem with thinking that “no inflation yet” means it won’t happen, while “no warming for a long time now” means nothing? Might these positions be inconsistent? Finally, do you think those dollars, like our missing heat, are stashed someplace that is all wet? We ask you with the greatest respect for your authority on these topics, for when it comes to “hot air” and “all wet,” we readily concede that you have no peer.