Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? Because the Washington Post continues to pay hacks like Robert Samuelson.
Paul Krugman does the intellectual garbage collection:
Academic Non-Obscurity: Robert Samuelson tries to minimize the significance of the Reinhart-Rogoff affair; and that, I realized, offers an interesting window into why, in fact, the affair matters so much.
Samuelson starts by excusing R-R on the grounds that the economic crisis predates their blooper:
The Reinhart/Rogoff paper was published in January 2010, more than a year after Lehman Brothers’ failure and the onset of the financial crisis. At that point, all the ingredients of Europe’s debt crisis (housing bubbles in Spain and Ireland, huge budget deficits in Greece, weak banks throughout the continent) were also in place.
But… the question is how they played into the response. For the remarkable thing about this ongoing slump isn’t so much that we had a financial crisis as the fact that we responded to it, not by applying what macroeconomists thought they had learned, but by repeating all the policy errors of the 1930s…. Still, R-R can’t have mattered here, says Samuelson, because politicians were going to do what they were going to do regardless:
Something similar can be said of British Prime Minister David Cameron. He took office in May 2010 when the Reinhart/Rogoff paper still enjoyed standard academic obscurity.
Standard academic obscurity? Reinhart-Rogoff instantly became famous…. Austerity policies would probably have proceeded without Reinhart-Rogoff (and Alesina-Ardagna, another instant hit academic paper that dissolved under scrutiny). But the paper certainly helped sell the policies…. Even if you don’t think Reinhart-Rogoff made much difference to actual policy, the meteoric rise… speaks volumes about why this slump goes on and on.