It’s not every day that I feel as if I am the equivalent of Paul Krugman (or that my lay economic opinion is equally as valuable as his), so today is a day I can rejoice.
But first I will explain.
Greg Mankiw linked an influential essay by Kartik Athreya, Ph. D. (a senior economist in the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s research department) which is titled “Economics is Hard. Don’t Let Bloggers Tell You Otherwise“. According to Dr. Athreya, simplistic economic pronouncements by bloggers (like yours truly) are about as helpful as simplistic economic pronouncements by elite economists like Krugman, and both should be ignored:

In this essay, I argue that neither non-economist bloggers, nor economists who portray economics — especially macroeconomic policy — as a simple enterprise with clear conclusions, are likely to contibute any insight to discussion of economics and, as a result, should be ignored by an open-minded lay public.

Which would apply to Paul Krugman’s latest pronouncement:

We are now, I fear, in the early stages of a third depression. It will probably look more like the Long Depression than the much more severe Great Depression. But the cost — to the world economy and, above all, to the millions of lives blighted by the absence of jobs — will nonetheless be immense.
[…]
….future historians will tell us that this wasn’t the end of the third depression, just as the business upturn that began in 1933 wasn’t the end of the Great Depression. After all, unemployment — especially long-term unemployment — remains at levels that would have been considered catastrophic not long ago, and shows no sign of coming down rapidly. And both the United States and Europe are well on their way toward Japan-style deflationary traps.
In the face of this grim picture, you might have expected policy makers to realize that they haven’t yet done enough to promote recovery. But no: over the last few months there has been a stunning resurgence of hard-money and balanced-budget orthodoxy.

In his usual simplistic manner, Krugman maintains, of course, that we must spend our way out of debt with money we don’t have.
And even though I am not an economist and therefore have no idea what I am talking about, I will nonetheless continue (in my usual simplistic manner) to maintain that spending your way out of debt simply does not work. I think that any temporary “relief” it might provides is as illusory as the apparent “recovery” of a medieval patient being systematically bled back to life. But what do I know? I’m just glad that for once, a knowledgeable economist thinks my opinion is as worthy of being ignored as Krugman’s! And even Brad Delong’s! Back to Dr. Athreya:

…I am totally puzzled by the willingness of many who fearlessly and breathlessly opine about economics, especially macroeconomic policy. Deficits, short-term interest rate targets, sovereign debt are all chewed over with a level of self-assuredness that only someone who doesn’t know more could. The list of those exhibiting this zest also includes, in addition to those mentioned above, some who might know better. They are the patron saints of the “Macroeconomic Policy is Easy: Only Idiots Don’t Think So” movement: Paul Krugman and Brad Delong. Either of these men will assure their readers that it’s all really very simple (and may even be found in Keynes’ writings).

Wow. Being as worthless as Paul Krugman and Brad Delong is very humbling.
(I’m glad it’s only for a day.)