What Krugman said: On the admission of error as the admission price to respect

Urp Versus Derp

  • July 8, 2013

Jared Bernstein writes from Europe about the complete unwillingness of European policy makers to learn from their mistakes; call it Euroderp. And it is indeed a remarkable thing: despite overwhelming evidence that austerity doesn’t work as advertised, there has been essentially no relaxation of the orthodoxy, and no admission of error.

Along the way, Bernstein mentions the Blanchard-Leigh (pdf) analysis of multipliers, in which these IMF economists admit that the Fund failed to appreciate how much damage austerity would do because it underestimated multipliers by about two-thirds. And this illustrates a point I think many readers fail to grasp: the difference between urp, which is forgivable,and derp, which isn’t.

By urp I mean just getting something wrong — and then conceding, as evidence rolls in, that you did indeed get it wrong: “Urp! That was a bad call!” Obviously if someone urps all the time, his credibility is diminished; but everyone is going to do it now and then. To urp is human.

Derp, on the other hand, means being proved wrong but continuing to loudly assert the same thing again and again regardless. Blanchard and Leigh urped, but they didn’t derp; the inflationistas, on the other hand, just keep on derping.

As I said, some people don’t seem to get this distinction. They point to mistakes I’ve made in the past — mainly my bad call on deficits and interest rates in 2003 — and say, “You derp too!” But I’ve admitted that this was a bad call, and adapted my analysis accordingly. I wish I’d gotten it right, but everyone with the possible exception of the Pope urps now and then; all I can say is that I think I have fewer urps than most, and I really, really try not to derp.

So don’t accuse me of derp; I’m not that kind of perp.


About dwighttowers

Below the surface...
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2 Responses to What Krugman said: On the admission of error as the admission price to respect

  1. David Weir (Sheikh Al Mayhem) says:

    What does PK mean by ” proved wrong”?

    The only ” proof” is going to come much, much later.

    Sheikh Al Mayhem

  2. dwighttowers says:

    I think PK is pointing to people who claimed that austerity and the “short” (read – “endless”) sharp shock would get things on the “road to recovery” within a year or two, and who have just kept extending the deadline or ignoring reality.

    Of course, some swivel-eyed loons speculate that maybe the banker-caused crisis is being used to strip out collective solutions to problems….

    Sheikh Rattle and Roll

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