Home > The Economics Profession > Should the “heretic” demand a retraction from the New York Times?

Should the “heretic” demand a retraction from the New York Times?

from Edward Fullbrook

“Oh My, Steve Keen Edition” (April 2) was Paul Krugman’s third recent go at Steve Keen in the Opinion Pages of the New York Times (background).  This one however was fundamentally different.  Krugman constructed his piece around a radical misrepresentation of what Keen had recently written.  Unsurprisingly, this approach made Keen look foolish.  Krugman introduced his readers to a long quote from Keen with the words “which asserts the following about New Keynesian models:”.  But in fact Keen at this point is not writing about New Keynesian models but about the core DSGE model.  So Krugman, who now has his readers thinking the opposite, has Keen on the floor and treats him to a heavy below-the-belt kick.  

But accidents do happen, and Krugman has appended the following two updates (to call them apologies would be a wild exaggeration) to his “Oh My” piece. 

Update update: Ah, so Keen didn’t mean DSGE — a term that refers only to New Keynesian models — when he said DSGE; he meant New Classical, which he somehow regards as the underlying principles for models that aren’t New Classical at all. OK. Anyway, enough of that. I’m all for listening to heretics when they offer insights I can use, but I’m not finding that at all in this conversation, just word games and continual insistence that the members of the sect have insights denied to us lesser mortals. Time to move on.

Update: OK, I’m done with this conversation. I’ve had enough back and forth, including off-the-record stuff, to confirm for myself that there’s no there there. And there are more important battles to fight.

Keen’s response is as follows:

Q: What do John Maynard Keynes and Steve Keen have in common?

A: They’ve both been misread by Paul Krugman.

In just a couple of days I’ve gone from the privilege of being acknowledged by Krugman to being misread by him, in a way that would have any student failed in a multiple choice exam. In a passage where I specifically referred to DSGE models–which includes both “New Classicals” and “New Keynesians” he interpreted me as referring to New Keynesian models only.

And I said “underlying principles to the DSGE models”, which should have been enough of a clue that I was referring specifically to New Classical models, not New Keynesian ones.

The disparaging references to New Keynesian models came later, when I described them as being like Ptolemaic astronomers adding epicycles to an underlying model that couldn’t explain the retrograde motion of the planets.


Then having misread me, he concludes with “Nick uses a four-letter word to describe this; I can’t, because this is the Times”

Since I don’t work for The Times, I can and will use a four letter word to describe your poor comprehension here Paul:


  1. Jeff
    April 4, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    I already submitted a comment on Krugman’s blog suggesting that a retraction was due, after it was pointed out repeatedly in other comments that Krugman had misread and mischaracterized Keen, but my comment didn’t make it past the NY Times censors.

  2. Dan
    April 5, 2012 at 3:32 pm

    “..word games and continual insistence that the members of the sect have insights denied to us lesser mortals. Time to move on.”

    How patronising! Makes you wonder whether he’s really got a substantive response or whether he’s just holding his hands over his ears and pretending not to hear.

    But worse spats have happened in the blogosphere, and i’m sure concerned readers can click through to the original Keen post to see what he really said. From what i’ve seen, lots of commenters seem a bit disillusioned with Krugman.

  3. Alice
    April 6, 2012 at 9:37 am

    Well Krugman is like another economist I know in Australia – a so called left or moderate left or liberal economist. he just lost his gig after many years giving opinions to the media. Give them enough time posting for a rag in the media and they become more and more conservative is my opinion.

    They dont say what they really think. Must be a well paid gig working for the plutocray in the poluticratic media in the US and the soft voice of the left who is employed only to provide the pretence of “balance” (oops pardon me..,moderate voice of the slightly leftish turns moderate rightish when it counts ie when pavlovs dog gets enough food).

    Or am I totally cynical?

    • Alice
      April 6, 2012 at 9:41 am

      Bit like Obama?. Talks the talk buit doesnt walk the walk.

  4. April 6, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Well, look, what I’ve been trying to communicate — apparently unsuccessfully, since long before my new integrative theory of fundamental economics & natural values — is simply that economics will not be reformed without a thorough repudiation of plutonomics and the disvalues of instiutionalized-normalized corruption and heartlessness.

    I really empathise with those of you who still have enough uncalloused heartmind left to post your piercing insights and righteous indignation/wrath but, to me, it seems that any “serious” observer who doesn’t know that the time is ripe for The Solution is living in a “waking” dream world. I totally “get” Keynes, because I’ve been a self-made entrepreneur (with several successes, despite starting startups concurrently with “new” recessions since 1970 on), scientist & ecotect (riding on the shoulders of giants), groomed & trained to be a true artist since infancy. As a successful ARE cultural economist, I love Keynes’ work because he was a humanistic pragmatists with a heart who, despite his magnificent financial successes, tried to provide a workable, sustainable solution to the economics of rapacious corruption (plutonomy). All we need to do to accomplish the mission is to unite, use the compassionate pragmatism of Lord Keynes, sustain parental wisdom, and integrate the principles of the Gifting Economy, the “economics of Star Trek”, and the millennial Suq system, while comprehensively repudiating the lies & disvalues of plutonomics and its meta-toxic socioeconomic paradigm.

    Divided we fail & fall by default. United we stand a chance of sustainable success beyond imagining, in a future worth living. Without living a life that generates a great death and a better world for all generations, why bother?

    “Living” a “life” of increasing mediocrity and neurotic denial or sociopathic illness in a rapidly declining mediocracy is a life worse than death. Karma, the unbreakable Law of Interdependent Interaction, is as infallible as thermodynamics and fluid mechanics.

    Thanks, Blessings & Victory!

  5. Jon Cloke
    April 30, 2012 at 10:33 am

    Steve Keen has been ignored and traduced by so many other ‘economists’ that I think he should just do what he usually does, which is carry on with dignity pointing out how the other professional ‘economists’ can’t tell their respective arses from a hole in the ground, so far as real-life economics is concerned. Hysterically demanding apologies is what lying, dishonourable crypto-fascists of the GOP like Newt Gingrich do, after all, not men of honour and distinction like Steve…

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