Paul Krugman on Political Science This Cycle

via Stowe Boyd

So far this cycle the political scientists aren’t doing too well. In particular, standard models of how the nomination process works seem to be having trouble with the durability of clowns. Things don’t seem to be working the way they used to.

And this makes me think of the way some economic analysis went astray after 2008. In particular, I’m reminded of the way many fairly reasonable analysts underestimated the adverse effects of austerity. They looked at historical episodes, and this led them to expect around a half point of GDP contraction for every point of fiscal tightening. What actually seems to have happened was around three times that much.

Now, as it happens we know why — and some people (e.g., me) predicted this in advance: the conditions under which past austerity took place were different from the recent episode, in which monetary policy was constrained by the zero lower bound and unable to offset fiscal contraction. But the point was that the world had entered a different regime, in which historical relationships could be and were misleading.

And surely it’s not too much of a stretch to say that something equally or more fundamental has happened to US politics. Partisan divisions run deeper; establishment figures are widely distrusted; the GOP base has gone mad; and so on. History is just less of a guide than it used to be.

In the case of macroeconomics, fortunately, we had models that allowed us to make reasonably good predictions about how the regime would shift at the ZLB. If there’s anything comparable in political science, I don’t know about it (but would be happy to be enlightened.)

I’ll still take academic analysis over horserace punditry any day. But we really do know less than ever.

Paul Krugman, The Conscience of a Liberal

Welcome to the postnormal, wrecking havoc on this political cycle.

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Paul Krugman on Political Science This Cycle

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Founder, Work Futures. Editor, GigaOm. My obsession is the ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

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