Sunday, November 06, 2005

What might Krugman have written about the riots?

Via Don Luskin, "the ultimate Krugman take-down" by EU Rota. Using Krugman's own words against him inspired me to do it similarly. I did change a few words from the original, but not many at all. The original may be found here.

It seems almost in bad taste to talk about dollars and cents, or in this case, euros, after an act of mass rioting. Nonetheless, we must ask about the economic aftershocks from the last several days' horror.

These aftershocks need not be major. Ghastly as it may seem to say this, the rioting -- like the original one in 1968, which brought an end to France's illusions about its society -- could even do some economic good. But there are already ominous indications that some will see this tragedy not as an occasion for politican reform, but as an opportunity for political profiteering in the name of national unity. About the direct economic impact: France's productive base has not been seriously damaged. Its economy is sufficiently large that the scenes of destruction, awesome as they appear in news photos, are hardly a pinprick. Nobody has a euro figure for the damage yet, but I would be surprised if the loss is even a calculable fraction of a percent of France's annual economic output, let alone wealth -- hardly comparable to the material effects of a major earthquake or hurricane, such as we've seen this year.

After all, if Krugman argued in 2001 that rebuilding after the 9/11 attacks would be an economic boost, why shouldn't he argue the same for rebuilding after France's current riots?

Walter Williams was the very first to seize on Krugman's economic ignorance after Krugman's column was published just after 9/11, with a 2004 encore here. To paraphrase the James Bond song, no one could have done it better.


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