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The economists: UK Ferguson takes on USA Krugman

Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize winner in economics and a New York Times writer. Niall Ferguson is a professor of history at Harvard University and a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School. He is also a senior research fellow at Jesus College, Oxford University, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His latest book, The Ascent of Money: A Financial History of the World, was published in November.

Paul says, spend, spend, spend! It's austerity that's causing Greek problems. Or, in a plainer translation, it's not the cancer that's hurting you, it's the chemo. Sure, Paul.

Niall says:

The real lessons for the United States [and Britain] are clear. Those who run up debt in good times can borrow only so much more when a recession strikes. And heavily indebted governments postpone fiscal stabilization at their peril. If you wait to reform until the bond market calls time, you are—to use a technical term from economics—screwed.

The best option is, of course, to be Switzerland, a country strangely ignored by Krugman. The Swiss have run a prudent fiscal policy throughout the economic crisis. They have had a structural surplus in each of the past five years. Their net debt is actually lower today than it was in 2005. And guess what? In 2009 their economy suffered the smallest contraction in Europe, with unemployment today below 4 percent. As for sound money, the Swiss franc is up 95 percent against the dollar since 2000.

Comments (1)


Switzerland is also notable for the political actions of its populace to resist and decrease Islamization. A recent futuristic novel sees it as the only oasis of the West in Europe. They seem to be following Voltaire's suggestion and cultivating their garden--that includes attention to weeding.

But is it really practical to disagree with a Nobel Prize winner like Krugman? That implies a certain level of achievement and service to humanity, as we can see by other winners--Al Gore, Barack Obama, Yasser Arafat.

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