Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Credit where credit is due

On December 14th, Krugman had this to say about TPP:
Dean Baker takes me to task over the Trans Pacific trade deal, arguing that it’s not really about trade — that the important (and harmful) stuff involves regulation and intellectual property rights.

I’m sympathetic to this argument; this was true, for example, of DR-CAFTA, the free trade agreement with Central America, which ended up being largely about pharma patents. Is TPP equally bad? I’ll do some homework and get back to you.
On March 11th, Krugman finished his homework, got back to us, and announced he was thumbs down on TPP. He went into greater detail, but what he didn't do was acknowledge Dean Baker's role in nudging him down the correct path.

This seemed a bit out of character for Krugman. Afterall, he cited Baker three months ago, so why not now? Through Krugman's comment section, I requested that Krugman acknowledge Baker's work against the TPP, but my comment was rejected by the NY Times moderator. Baker, surprisingly, didn't react to Krugman's change of heart on TPP or his lack of professionalism.

A week later, this was still bugging me. Economic researchers live and die by being first. Giving and taking credit is part of the game, and Krugman plays it all the time. Here are some examples from the first page of Krugman's blog on March 18th.
Way back — before Lehman fell! — I argued that there was a distinction between modern and postmodern recessions.

That’s actually why I was predicting a sluggish recovery well in advance, and in fact well before the Reinhart-Rogoff aftermath paper came out.

And a number of economists, myself included, independently developed models of leverage, currency mismatch, and balance sheet effects to make sense of the Asian crisis.

I think I was the first to quote St. Augustine here: “Grant me chastity and continence, but not yet.
Krugman obviously wants credit when he's first, but he needs to reciprocate. 

By the way, it appears that I'm the first and only one on the internet making this point.

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