Urp Versus Derp
- by PAUL KRUGMAN
- 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.