The battle of the Pauls: Ron Paul talks economic theory

Ron Paul and economist Paul Krugman debated fiscal theory on Bloomberg TV. Who won?

Ben Margot/AP/File
In this April file photo, Republican presidential candidate Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, gestures while speaking at the University of California at Berkeley, Calif. Paul recently debated economist Paul Krugman on economics on Bloomberg TV

Most names, including "Stefan" and "Karlsson", are either exclusively first names or last names, but there are also names that could be either. One example of that is "Paul", as is illustrated by the names "Ron Paul" and "Paul Krugman". The two faced off in a debate that one can call "Paul vs. Paul" or "the battle of the Pauls". 

Ron Paul managed to hit Krugman good with several of his arguments, including pointing out that late 19th century cyclical slumps are an indictment of the absence of central banks then the inflationist policies of later Roman emperor's that led to the Empire's collapse is an indictment of inflationary policies, an argument that Krugman clearly didn't anticipate, as he simply responded that he didn't endorse Emperor Diocletian's policies.

Krugman also falsely claimed that there was no coercion in the use of currency, being either ignorant of deliberately dishonest about the existence of "legal tender laws".

 Ron Paul was however embarrased when he endorsed Milton Friedman, whose view of the depression is that it "should be blamed on the government" because the central bank wasn't activist enough, and also he falsely claimed that "debts were liquidated" after World War II. Perhaps the latter is meant to refer to some debts to Germany, but there was no liquidation, at least not in nominal terms, of the debts of Americans. Krugman however failed to point out Ron's inaccuracy on the latter point.

What is really clear is that Krugman himself believed he lost the debate, since he wrote a blog post arguing that such debates aren't the best way to settle such issues since one can't directly settle disputes over data. That's actually a largely valid point, such face-offs aren't the best way to settle theoretical disputes, but again illustrates that even though Krugman doesn't believe that his arguments were disproven, he does believe that Ron Paul did better in this particular debate.

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