Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Case for Austerity Weakened

The economics blogosphere has been agitated for several days by a just-released paper exposing errors of calculation and judgment in a 2010 NBER working paper by Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhardt purporting to show that countries that carry a debt/GDP ratio above 90% suffer from sharply lower growth. This paper has often been cited by European officials as justification for the austerity policy imposed on the countries of the Eurozone. Matt Yglesias has a good summary of the controversy here. Paul Krugman weighs in here, here, and here.

It is no doubt too much to hope that this debate will alter the settled views of policymakers, but with anti-austerity sentiment on the rise everywhere in Europe, it can't hurt.

Death of Ari Zolberg

Aristide Zolberg was one of the great political scientists of the last half-century, with a profound knowledge of France among a vast range of other subjects. For a tribute you to the man, I refer you to Arun Kapil, who was a student of Zolberg's. I didn't know him well, but on each occasion that I met him, I came away with the impression that he was not only a brilliant man but also, more importantly, as my grandmother would have said, "a real mensch"--Yiddish for an authentic human being. I note his passing with sadness.