MARTIN BASHIR: It's time now to clear the air. Do you remember when a number of Republicans could not stop quoting the findings of two Harvard economists, [Carmen] Reinhart and [Kenneth] Rogoff, who argued that if government debt exceeded 90 percent of GDP then that country's economy was likely to collapse. So their answer and the response of many Republicans to the recession was not stimulus but austerity -- slashing government spending as quickly as possible.
Reinhart and Rogoff's thesis was taken up by a number of nations and the results have been devastating. Countries like Britain, Spain, Italy and Ireland have all suffered double-, even triple-dip recessions by following Reinhart and Rogoff's lead.
But one economist from the outset was absolutely clear that they were absolutely wrong. And he didn't pull his punches.
Mr. Krugman, a Nobel laureate no less, eviscerated their thesis even before it emerged that a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts had found that the data they used had failed to include the experience of several allied nations, contained a serious coding error and that they'd used an odd weighting scheme, all of which had biased their findings.
This only confirmed Mr. Krugman's original view. Writing in the latest edition of New York Review of Books, he says the following: 'At this point, austerity economics is in a very bad way. Its predictions have proved utterly wrong. Its founding academic documents haven't just lost their canonized status, they've become the objects of much ridicule.'
But now Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff are squealing about the way their thesis has been debunked. And theyâ€™ve written a long, self-pitying letter to Paul Krugman, himself, saying in part: 'We admire your past scholarly work which influences us to this day. So it has been with deep disappointment that we have experienced your spectacularly uncivil behavior the past few weeks. You have attacked us in very personal terms, virtually non-stop in your New York Times column and blog posts.'
Iâ€™ll tell you what is spectacularly uncivil. It is spectacularly uncivil to slash the transportation service for a child with cerebral palsy because a government followed Reinhart and Rogoff. It is spectacularly uncivil to cancel a monthly luncheon club for elderly disabled folk because two Harvard economists said that the answer to the recession was to slash spending.
It is spectacularly uncivil to shut down a mother and baby group designed to support those who are suffering with postnatal depression. Paul Krugman was merely speaking up for those silent individuals whose lives have been mercilessly devastated by the advance of an economic theory that we now know is completely bogus. And for that alone he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize. (Martin Bashir, May 28, 2013)