Krugman on the Economy, Jack Lew and You

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Bill’s conversation with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman yielded many insights, cautions, and honest takes on Jack Lew, President Obama’s choice for Treasury Secretary. We clipped three of those specific moments — including one web-exclusive that will not be shown on air — below.

In the first cut, Krugman discusses public support for seeing him in the Treasury position, and why Lew might have the right temperament for the job.

In this web-exclusive clip, Bill asks Krugman what he thinks of Jack Lew’s stated view that financial industry deregulation was not the “proximate cause” of the financial crisis, a view that recently moved Senator Bernie Sanders to oppose Lew’s nomination.

Finally, Krugman talks with Bill about the bleak hopes of economic recovery for many hard-hit Americans, particularly the young and unemployed. Krugman calls the situation a “vast, unnecessary catastrophe,” but says solutions are possible, and can happen more quickly than most think.

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  • Leif Erik Knutsen

    The very foundation of Western Capitalism is the ability of the few to pollute the commons for profit. The richest Corpro/People in the world, for the most part, are the receipts of that disparity. They fully expect to take that money to their tax sheltered private accounts as humanity is forced to deal with rising seas, polluted mammies, acidified oceans and global climatic disruption. Corpro/People refuse to acknowledge their complicity, in spite of over whelming international scientific evidence to the contrary. Profits from that exploitation has allowed the corporate interest to own the main stream media to secure their blood money. Corpro/People did not buy the media for the profits that they could make, (clearly a loosing propersition in its own right), but to disseminate propaganda to PROTECT their exploitative profits as long as possible. The GOP, as well as the Democrats, banks and Wall Street, are all beholden to the “profits from pollution paradigm.” Consequently the straight forward “STOP” answer remains elusive, as it affects the hand that feeds them all.
    Corporations are people now. So the question remains: How come Corpro/People get to pick the “people” laws that suit them, yet ignore the time tested civil law of not trashing your neighbors property or being? It is past time that capitalism recognize the value of earth’s life support systems to the commons, which they have now become part and parcel of, and learn to play nice with their elders.
    The GOP do not fund abortion. Fine. A precedent. Why must progressives in part, and humanity in general, fund the ecocide of the planet via tax subsidies and exclusive forced compliance to the ecocide fossil industry?

  • Virginia Nancarvis

    President Obama ask for more “Stimulus” money during the fiscal cliff debacle…The Tea Party/Republicans just would not allow it…so he trimmed it back…quite a bit..Their austerity agenda could not have come at a worse time.

  • Thierry Moro Phillips

    Lew did NOT say he didn’t believe that the cessation of regulation was not contributory, he said he didn’t think it was the PROXIMATE cause. I’m surprised Krugman presented it otherwise, since he seems to support Lew for the most part.
    Praising with faint damns, perhaps? Or the inverse?

  • AusteritySucks

    Excellent interview.

    Great questions, great responses.

    Good clear way to convey what’s wrong right now in layman’s terms.

  • flockofbirds

    It is always an infusion of healthy food for the mind and heart to watch your program and, once again, with the interview with Paul Krugman, I see and hear the words that help to nourish what I deeply believe are democratic principles of fairness and equity but that often fly in the face of capitalist imperatives. At best, we are at a moment in history that might prevail in favor of democracy at the helm and driving capitalism to own up to its larger, humanist benefit. At worst, we will remain in the thrall of corporate power, based on self-interest, doublespeak, and the muffled suffering of millions of American citizens as well as those of other nations caught up in the outsourced net, not to mention the rapidly deteriorating environment. Your program is always a call to speak up and not give up hope.

  • Krish

    Robust, clarifying, interview that re-asserts the wrong-headedness of debt reduction at this juncture, which unfortunately seems to be the only thing on the agenda for the new know nothing’s.

  • Russell

    It was interesting the Krugman left out the single biggest economy stimulus that the USA got that started the move from stagnation in the early 30’s and that over came the polarisation of the country both politically and economical at that time and brought the
    prosperity and manufacturing strength about. Is the source of his “hope” to reset the USAs economical and politcally polarisatiion as tragic. Because it was the European “World War” that the USA benifited from the most.

  • marge

    The comments of Mr. Krugman that the visual effects of our depression is only different from our country’s earlier depression in that we may not see soup lines but we know there are those similarly effected identified by those depending on food stamps to eat. What frightens me more is the moral effect on our country that will be evidenced in future years when and if college graduates continue to feel frustration from incurring a student loan that they cannot foresee getting a job that will enable them to pay back their loans. How long will we foster this frustration and contribute to these student’s low self esteem and expect the future of our country to survive? President Obama, you have the power to impose change or you can sit back with your counterparts and continue to permit big business to win and watch our country’s moral sink lower. Why does Washington think the people of this country don’t realize the true picture and that they know that allowing big business to continue to influence our country’s future is destroying the moral of the country and that may one day bring down our pride in being American and consequently the devaluation of our future as the “land of the free and home of the brave.” Who will care? I still care, please bring back our pride in being American. You CAN do this President Obama, gather those around you who still have pride in America and be brave!

  • Sw

    So when can we expect an interview with Thomas Sowell?

  • Robert Funicello

    Go watch him on Faux News, he’s there all the time.

  • Gary Masters

    You do not starve a person in ICU or just after. You do not starve an economy when we need to put people to work. First things first. Put people to work and the deficit comes down and we pay the National Debit.

    Just like we did 14 years ago.

  • corrigible

    The wise management of anything consists in assessing both short term and long term worst-case and best-case scenarios.

    Technological discovery is a wild card. That is, it can alter consequences of any management plan for better or for worse.

    There are individuals among us who believe Malthus sorely miscalculated, in projecting mass starvation at particular population levels. Technological discoveries, however, merely allowed humanity a reprieve from the inevitabilities Malthus calculated on basis of the best information he had at time of laying out his model.

    There are those among us who naively perceive that Malthus was “wrong,” since humankind has dodged the Malthusian bullet so far.

    There are others who perceive correctly that Malthus failed to predict what technology would do to “rescue” humanity from inevitable food shortages that lay ahead in Malthus’ day but who naively assume that because technology saved us once, it will always and forever save us from over-taxing available resources required for sustaining life — or, at least, life of the kind of “quality” we perceive to be the right sort of quality, from where some of us in the more “developed” nations experience it on a day-by-day basis today.

    Actually, the very technology that has made life a piece of cake for some humans, in some parts of the globe today, has enabled us to optimize short term survival by squandering what used to be renewable resources. And, also, it has enabled some trade-offs: air pollution in exchange for enhanced personal mobility (not just rapid transportation to and from work, but also for entertainment and curiosity); pollution of surface waters of the earth, in exchange for luxurious amounts of running water and large-scale sewerage disposal; more voluminous crops in arid areas, in exchange for depleting aquifers far more rapidly than they can refill or even recuperate; abundant electrical power, in exchange for a rapid build up of nuclear reactor wastes materials that accumulate, and accumulate, and accumulate, while arguing goes on and on and on, without resolution, over how to manage the increasing risk of those toxins being released into our bio-environment by ordinary break down of containers, by a natural calamity, by an act of terrorism or war…

    Humanity has, indeed, outlived the duration of the time frame of Malthus’ model of exhaustion of food supply. But in doing so, we have, in a totally real sense, merely rearranged our resource management in such a way as to push a snowball farther up the hill of inevitability than older methods of exploitation predicted.

    In enabling us to go farther and faster up that hill, what technology has NOT done, so far at least — in enabling more efficient depletion of life-essential resources — come up with ways to renew them, either naturally or artificially.

    In many ways, the same sort of pattern (of increasing our efficiency in exploiting resources, without increasing our earth-limited supplies of them) is occurring economically. And the perception that our economics in the “developed” areas of earth is, in every way, a non-zero-sum game, is fallacious. There are limits to dynamical systems, just as there are limits to supplies of natural resources and agricultural potential. Some of these limits are relativistic. For example, if every person in an economy were to become a multi-millionaire — even if inflation of costs of things were to remain constant — traffic arteries for each and all to operate a sports car must compete against space to grow oxygen-processing plants, crops, mansions, golf courses. And, by the same token, there is dynamical room for only a limited number of individuals and corporations to own land, bricks and mortar, billions of dollars in bank accounts, before something and someone is deprived of opportunity to earn enough even to live on. There are, to ALL things material and dynamical, LIMITS. And the perception that everything in an economy is non-zero-sum implies the contrary — that there are no limits.

    Any perception that there are not limits to material things of this earth and dynamical systems on this earth is denial. But do humans indulge in denial of our limits? You betcha. And are we capable of being realistic about what we would have to do to
    manage wisely so as to live in a renewable world with a long term healthy economic homeostasis? No.

    We humans tend to believe not what stares us in the face but, rather, what makes us feel good while we march toward many kinds of cliffs: material resource cliffs; dynamical limits cliffs; points of diminishing returns in agricultural capacity cliffs…

    We won’t just fall off such cliffs. We’ll race toward them with increasing acceleration, as we have these past few thousand years. It’s not a matter of whether. It’s only a matter of when.