You didn’t have to be a Nobel Prize-winning economist to see that inflation was a problem last year and that it would continue to be a problem. Many of us on the right have been criticizing Joe Biden for being in denial about inflation for a year and a half now. We mocked him for his evolving rhetoric, which included such gems as claiming that “inflation will be transitory” or “inflation is a good thing.”
When those arguments failed to absolve him in the eyes of the public, he went to the Democrat mainstay of blaming Trump for inflation. No one bought that either. Once Biden was willing to admit that inflation was actually going on and that it wasn’t actually a good thing, he blamed COVID-19, Vladimir Putin, Big Oil, and even his own staff.
The problem was that they were just completely clueless. Earlier this month, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen admitted that the administration had been completely blindsided by inflation. “Well, look, I think I was wrong then about the path that inflation would take. As I mentioned, there have been unanticipated and large shocks to the economy that have boosted energy and food prices and supply bottlenecks that have affected our economy badly that I didn’t — at the time didn’t fully understand,” Yellen told CNN. “But we recognize that now.”
Of course, we expect the Biden administration to lie, make excuses, and play the blame game. But shouldn’t we expect more of professional economists, who seem to risk their reputations by being cheerleaders for “their side” rather than making objective assessments of the economy?
I am, of course, talking about Paul Krugman. Earlier this year, he wrote in an opinion piece for the New York Times that “2021 was pretty amazing,” and last year he insisted that there was no reason to worry about inflation in 2022 in an effort to assuage concerns following the recent consumer price index report.
“So yes, that was an ugly inflation report, and we hope that future reports will look better,” he wrote in November. “But people making knee-jerk comparisons with the 1970s and screaming about stagflation are looking at the wrong history. When you look at the right history, it tells you not to panic.”
It’s hard to imagine that anyone really believed inflation wouldn’t be a problem this year. I’m not an economist, and it wasn’t a hard code for me to crack. But Krugman isn’t so much an economist anymore as he is a cheerleader for the Democratic Party, using his status as a Nobel Prize-winner to give credibility to Democrat talking points. In fact, the Democratic Party even posted his article on their website. If Krugman says so, it must be true!
Of course, he would quickly concede just a few weeks later that he was wrong. “So far, warnings about inflation have proved right, while Team Transitory’s predictions that inflation would quickly fade have been wrong,” he wrote in December.
Did this mea culpa inspire him to stop blindly shilling for the Democratic Party? Nope. Earlier this year, he insisted that inflation wasn’t a crisis. Krugman has consistently been wrong on inflation, and he seems unable to learn his lesson. This week, he once again admitted he was wrong.
“In 2021, U.S. policymakers, like many economists, myself included, badly underestimated inflation risks — as they themselves admit,” Krugman wrote. “This candor, incidentally, is itself refreshing and welcome. Back in the 2010s very few of those who wrongly predicted runaway inflation ever admitted having been wrong.”
Sorry, but I’m not impressed. Did you see what he did there? We’re expected to forget the fact that he was repeatedly wrong about inflation because of his virtuous concession that he dropped the ball and excuse that incompetence because, well, every else was wrong too.
The thing is, it wasn’t everyone who was wrong — just those trying to give cover to Biden and the Democrats for their terrible economic policies.