Posted by: Dirk | October 17, 2008

Paul Krugman: a deserved Nobel

Paul Krugman collected this year’s Nobel price in Economics. He was awarded “for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity”. Rightly so. But besides that, he is a reality-based economist who understands what is going on. ALthough he said that he underestimated the financial crisis, he sure understood the problem early on.

Paul Krugman, NY Times column, May 27, 2005:

Remember the stock market bubble? With everything that’s happened since 2000, it feels like ancient history. But a few pessimists, notably Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley, argue that we have not yet paid the price for our past excesses.

I’ve never fully accepted that view. But looking at the housing market, I’m starting to reconsider.

In July 2001, Paul McCulley, an economist at Pimco, the giant bond fund, predicted that the Federal Reserve would simply replace one bubble with another. “There is room,” he wrote, “for the Fed to create a bubble in housing prices, if necessary, to sustain American hedonism. And I think the Fed has the will to do so, even though political correctness would demand that Mr. Greenspan deny any such thing.”

As Mr. McCulley predicted, interest rate cuts led to soaring home prices, which led in turn not just to a construction boom but to high consumer spending, because homeowners used mortgage refinancing to go deeper into debt. All of this created jobs to make up for those lost when the stock bubble burst.

Now the question is what can replace the housing bubble.

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