We'll believe that when we see it!
Indeed Sumner has whined about that response of Krugman's back in 2009 for years. Why? He feels Krugman's response was cursory and dismissive. Here are Krugman's offending words:
"OK, I see that Scott Sumner has written an open letter to me. But I’m puzzled. He writes:
I think you have acknowledged that there is some level of quantitative easing that would boost demand. If I am not mistaken you are concerned that if such a policy boosted inflation expectations sharply, the Fed would have to quickly sell off these assets, suffering massive capital losses."Um, you are mistaken. I’ve never said such a thing. Did you mean to address this letter to someone else?
My view, which I thought was pretty clear, is that the liquidity trap is real: no matter how much the Fed increases the monetary base, it has no effect, because it just substitutes one zero-interest asset for another. If the Fed could credibly commit to inflation at rates higher than the 2-ish percent target it’s already believed to have, that would be effective. But right now I don’t see that as a realistic option, hence the emphasis on fiscal policy and bank recapitalization."
Was that not a nice letter? Was it unfair to Scott? Clearly it disappointed him. Perhaps he feels that Krugman didn't take him seriously enough for a more intensive discussion.
Sumner at the end of this post-where he finally let's Krugman off the hook-'from now on it's just respectful disagreement' talks about how Milton Freidman got back to him on a letter he had sent a while ago to show how Friedman never treated the intellectually interested as Krugman did him back in 2009:
"I just opened a copy of my Monetary History, and found this letter from Milton Friedman inside (dated May 28, 1994–the day I got married in Beijing):
Dr. Mr. Sumner:"And people wonder why I answer the comments."
In cleaning up a pile of answered and unread material that had accumulated, I came across your letter of July 7, 1993 and the enclosed article. I write now simply to apologize for not having acknowledged receipt of the article or having been able to provide you with any comments on it.
Sorry that that was the case,
Senior Research Fellow
It's true to his credit that he does answer all comments. However, he doesn't always answer the real question-when he doesn't like the question he sometimes focuses on a lesser, tangential point and dodges the real question. And of course if you point that out he can just plead he doesn't have the time to get into something deeper. This gives him a certain plausible deniability but is disingenuous.
In any case, bearing in mind what he learned from Friedman-don't be dismissive of those interested in your work or opening a dialogue with you-here is how he responded to my recent question to him about whether or not a consumption tax can be progressive.
Sumner had written:
"My dream is that in a few more years I’ll be able to do a post entitled “We’re all zero fiscal multiplier, market monetarist, progressive consumption tax, supply-sider, neoliberal Yglesians now” so that I can retire to some place warm and sunny."
I responded with this:
"A progressive consumption tax is a contradiction in terms."
To this he fired back with this:
"don’t recall names (I studied public finance 35 years ago), but the progressive consumption tax is quite popular among public finance types. It’s also a popular idea in Europe, where taxes are more aimed at consumption than in the US."
"With all due respect, instead of asking me to name names don’t you think it might make more sense for you to actually study public finance before blogging about it? Or do you think that actual knowledge is not important, just free floating opinions."
"You might ask Matt Yglesias, who also supports progressive consumption taxes–he might be able to name names."
Well which public finance textbook should I read-the ones you studied years ago and can't recall anything about? If Sumner doesn't like "free floating opinions" why does he engage in them so much? He admits that he doesn't know any more than the next guy on fiscal matter:
"I do occasionally post on supply-side issues, and agree that they are what really matters in the long run, what separates North and South Korea. But I have no special expertise in non-monetary areas of economics."
So why doesn't he brush up on public fiance guys as well? He admits it was years since he read them, he doesn't seem to remember what they said or even what one of their names are. As far as Matt Yglesias I already read him. I doubt that Ygleisais is a dyed in the woods Supply Sider as Sumner is but if he is then I disagree with him too.
Let's be clear. What we have is the not very edifying sight of Sumner trying to play the "credentialist" card. Krugman in some of his disagreements with people like Robert Reich and Galbraith in the 90s would unfortunately play it as well. What you can say for Krugman is at least he seems to have evolved and hasn't played that game recently.
Sumner is saying, "Mike Sax, who are you to question me as I'm an ivory tower academic economist and you're part of the unwashed ignorant masses? You should treat my words as gospel and read the books I read as a student but can't remember any of now."
It's an unworthy attitude and does nothing to bring debate forward. So maybe I overestimated Sumner. What he wants is not honest discussion and teachable moments but merely indoctrination.
Indeed he seems to want to claim I'm not qualified to do this blog. The beauty of that Scott, is this is not your Macro department at Bentley. I don't have to get anyone's permission to write it. You yourself have said that the blogging world is the ultimate meritocracy. I agree, people vote with their feet. What people's vote seems to indicate is that they like Diary of a Republican Hater.
Even many who read your blog and are Market Monetarist friends of yours-Nick Rowe, Lars Chrsitensen, Marcus Nunes regularly reads it, indeed has it delivered to his email. Many economists like and read my blog-Unlearning Econ, Mike Norman, Cullen Roche. Delong has put me on his twitter feed.
All of them seem not to feel as you do Scott, that I have to go read the "public finance" guys you read back in college-none of who you can ever remember their names or one argument they made in favor of your consumption tax.
There is a legitimate way and a intellectually feeble way to engage in debate. W. Peden, a friend of yours showed someone who is willing to engage in honest debate. He argued persuasively for his position and gave me some food for thought. Really. I mean I'm still not sure about no investment taxes but might be at least tempted to do a few studies about it if in exchange for his idea for a progressive consumption tax. I'd love to see the PDF looking on what this might mean to the macroeconomy.
For my discussion with W. Peden see
You though took the uncourageous way out of academic credentialism. It says nothing about me and a lot about you. Clearly you are insecure. Maybe because you know very well you don't know nearly as much as you try to let on.