Paul Krugman holds himself out as Krugtron the Invincible. I think of him more as a beady-eyed loon. It would be fun to see an MMPI on him.
I knew that Krugman thinks highly of himself. It comes with the territory. Even so, Krugman is discovering new lands of self-regard. I learned about Krugman’s incarnation as Krugtron from Niall Ferguson’s series of columns on Krugman this week.
The Krugtron mask hints at a sense of humor that is otherwise invisible in Krugman’s body of work. Actually, though, it was a Krugman fanboy who posited Krugman as Krugtron. Krugman merely embraced it. His self-regard is undiluted by a sense of humor.
Professor Ferguson’s series fills a void and serves a good cause: “I have three motives [for writing about Krugman],” he explains. “The first is to illuminate the way the world really works, as opposed to the way Krugman and his beloved New Keynesian macroeconomic models say it works. The second is to assert the importance of humility and civility in public as well as academic discourse. And the third, frankly, is to teach him the meaning of the old Scottish regimental motto: nemo me impune lacessit (“No one attacks me with impunity”).” The series is must reading all the way through to this bracing conclusion:
Where I come from…we do not fear bullies. We despise them. And we do so because we understand that what motivates their bullying is a deep sense of insecurity. Unfortunately for Krugtron the Invincible, his ultimate nightmare has just become a reality. By applying the methods of the historian – by quoting and contextualizing his own published words – I believe I have now made him what he richly deserves to be: a figure of fun, whose predictions (and proscriptions) no one should ever again take seriously.
Krugman has declared that he’s not responding to Ferguson. Can he really keep the lid on? I doubt it.