Al igual que Varoufakis, Krugman expone sus puntos de vista sobre el papel de la economía en los tiempos de crisis, las fallas de los economistas al abordar la recesión más reciente y, finalmente, las cosas que podrían hacerse para mejorar.
Para empezar, Krugman subraya la importancia del modelo IS-LM para analizar la economía durante una crisis:
“And those who knew IS-LM and used it – those who understood what a liquidity trap means – got it right, while those with lots of real-world experience were wrong.”
Sin embargo, la falla de los economistas no radica en su falta de visión para predecir la más reciente crisis, sino en su incapacidad de estimar que la probabilidad de dicho evento era cada vez más grande:
“To take the most absurd case, nobody could realistically have demanded that the economics profession predict that Lehman Brothers would go down on September 15, 2008, and take much of the world economy with it. In fact, it’s not reasonable to criticize economists for failing to get the year of the crisis right, or any of the specifics of how it played out, all of which probably depended on detailed contingencies and just plain accident.
What you can criticize economists for…is failing even to see that something like this crisis was a fairly likely event…Economists, of all people, should have been on guard for the fallacy of misplaced concreteness, should have realized that not everything that functions like a bank and creates bank-type systemic risks looks like a traditional bank”.
Krugman, al igual que Varoufakis, ataca los modelos macroeconómicos que él considera “demasiado matemáticos”-comúnmente asociados a la corriente de Chicago- y defiende el enfoque Keynesiano:
“On one side there was “saltwater” economics – people, who in America tended to be in coastal universities, who continued to view Keynes as broadly right, even though they couldn’t offer a rigorous justification for some of their assumptions. On the other side was “freshwater” – people who tended to be in inland US universities, and who went for logically complete models even if they seemed very much at odds with lived experience.”
Su argumento principal es que la falta de conocimiento de modelos keynesianos e IS-LM de muchos economistas “de agua dulce” condujo hacia debates intenso e innecesarios en un momento en el que se necesitaban consejos más o menos consensuados para los gobernantes:
“And I blame economists, who were incoherent in our hour of need. Far from contributing useful guidance, many members of my profession threw up dust, fostered confusion, and actually degraded the quality of the discussion…And this is a terrible thing for those who want to think of economics as useful. This kind of situation is what we’re here for. In normal times, when things are going pretty well, the world can function reasonably well without professional economic advice. It’s in times of crisis, when practical experience suddenly proves useless and events are beyond anyone’s normal experience, that we need professors with their models to light the path forward. And when the moment came, we failed.”