BUSINESS

Krugman: Politicians 'Quick To Seize On Research That Suits Their Preconceptions'

09/07/2012 06:17 pm ET

Economists frequently blame politicians for the nation's unemployment problem, but Paul Krugman says economists themselves deserve some blame.

Asked about the jobs crisis by Business Insider's Joe Weisenthal, the Nobel Prize-winning economist wrote that he in part blames "older economists, who have behaved a lot like the politicians, seizing on results they like and ignoring those they don't."

Some economists say that politicians have failed to address the jobs crisis with policies that are forceful enough. The government, they say, needs to send a clear message that it is committed to getting the economy out of this mess -- by hiring more workers, making the budget more sustainable or some combination of the two.

But Krugman noted in his email to Business Insider that economists have not done a very good job of guiding the policy discourse. Now, Krugman writes, politicians "have been awfully quick to seize on research that suits their preconceptions," even though that research may be flawed.

Two weeks of political conventions have provided ample evidence of that.

Krugman cited two examples of flawed research: research by economists Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna arguing that austerity leads to economic growth, and a paper by economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff that claims economies grow more slowly after their national debt exceeds 90 percent of GDP.

Republican politicians have been quick to seize on this research as proof that austerity would create jobs. But this research has been debunked by some economists. Recently, even the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute argued that austerity hurts broader economic growth.

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