Where the Stress Falls
By Scott Sumner
Marcus Nunes has a highly critical post contrasting Paul Krugman’s views on Argentina in 2012 and today. I won’t be quite as critical. As is often the case with Krugman it’s almost impossible to figure out what he is “really saying.” So let’s do something else instead. Let’s look at where the stress falls (title taken from an set of essays by Susan Sontag.)
1. Back in 2012 I used to argue that the Argentine decision to exit the currency peg in 2002 led to a rapid cyclical recovery from the tight money depression of 1998-2001. I also argued that the recovery was accompanied by counterproductive statist policies that would hurt Argentina in the long run.
2. Back in 2012 Matt Yglesias argued that the Argentine decision to exit the currency peg in 2002 led to a rapid cyclical recovery from the tight money depression of 1998-2001. Matt added:
That’s hardly a panacea. The abandonment of the dollar peg has cemented Argentina’s reputation as a bad place to invest your money. The governments of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner have pursued a series of dubious energy policies, and give off a strong air of dynastic cronyism.
3. Back in 2012 Paul Krugman argued that the Argentine decision to exit the currency peg in 2002 led to a rapid cyclical recovery from the tight money depression of 1998-2001. (Yup, this is a copy and paste post.) Then Krugman added:
And conversely, articles about Argentina are almost always very negative in tone — they’re irresponsible, they’re renationalizing some industries, they talk populist, so they must be going very badly. Never mind this:
[Graph of Argentina growing faster than Brazil]
Just to be clear, I think Brazil is going pretty well, and has had good leadership. But why exactly is Brazil an impressive “BRIC” while Argentina is always disparaged? Actually, we know why — but it doesn’t speak well for the state of economics reporting.
I’m not sure if there is anything there that is directly in conflict with anything I said or Yglesias said. But look at where the stress falls. No wonder in his recent post he associates himself with Yglesias’s defense of his 2012 post. Does anyone deny that Yglesias’s “to be sure” type of approach looks much more prescient today?
You could read the past 1000 Krugman posts and still have no idea whether or not he is a neoliberal. In the 1990s you couldn’t read 10 Krugman posts without quickly recognizing that he was a neoliberal.
PS. If you don’t like Sontag at least give me credit for not using the phrase ‘cry for Argentina’ in the post title.