March 14, 2003

It's Like Rai-ai-ain on Your Wedding Day!

John Quiggin (whose name I will spell correctly henceforward) tries to teach Andrew Sullivan about what "irony" is:

John Quiggin: ...Andrew Sullivan, a Brit living in New York (I think) and seemingly as sophisticated as they come, responds to Paul Krugman on the Budget deficit, saying:

here's the economic expert, Krugman , on the looming deficit:

[R]ight now the deficit, while huge in absolute terms, is only 2 ? make that 3, O.K., maybe 4 ? percent of G.D.P.

I take Krugman's broader point about the deficit, and agree with it. But why such contemptuous sloppiness? There's a critical difference between 2 and 4 percent of GNP. Isn't there?

Sullivan probably doesn't follow the economic debate all that closely. But surely he must have noticed that estimates of the US Budget deficit have been rising steadily, with a new higher estimate announced every six months or so.

I apologise for laboring the point, but rather than risk any reliance on irony I'll spell it out in excruciating detail. Krugman is not making a series of guesses, but giving an ironic description of the steadily deteriorating outlook. The US Budget deficit for this year was first estimated at around $US 200 billion (2 per cent of GNP), then around $US 300 billion and now looks likely to be closer to $400 billion. Krugman is hinting that this trend is likely to continue...

Posted by DeLong at March 14, 2003 02:46 PM | TrackBack

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