December 6, 2006

Cavuto v. Krugman: It’s a Rout (in the Interview and on the Facts)

Fox News’s Neil Cavuto interrupted a bit more than I would have liked in his Tuesday interview with Paul Krugman, but you can’t argue with Cavuto’s effectiveness. Krugman actually said that he had no idea about the controversy over the compensation of the Board Chairman of his own company several years ago, and Cavuto asked what any of us would ask: “How could you NOT know what your Chairman is doing?”

Cavuto elicited this stunningly out-of-touch statement from Krugman about the situation for the average person and the middle class that is obviously not true (excerpt is at the end of this Hot Air clip; go here for Fox News full vid):

Cavuto: …. You’re saying that it’s somehow dramatically worse now than it was 10 years, 20 years ago?
Krugman: It is dramatically worse now than it was 10 or 20 years ago.

Horse manure, Paul, and here’s the proof. The figures below are from the Census Bureau, and show real (inflation-adjusted) income from 1985-2005 (bottom half of data at linked page):


Paul, you’re supposedly a smart guy, so follow me here:

  • Every 2005 quintile’s real income is higher than that of 1985, and of 1995 (remember, Krugman didn’t just say “not improving,” he said “dramatically worse”).
  • Based on data released so far this year, data showing that real incomes have increased this year, every 2006 quintile’s real income will come in higher than that of 1996, and of 1986.

Additionally, since these are gross income (pre-tax) figures, the following points must be made:

  • Income taxes are lower, especially in the bottom two quintiles, thanks to lower rates put into place in 2001 and 2003 plus the expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit.
  • Thanks to someone Paul Krugman and others love to hate (Wal-Mart), very many of the things that people buy are a great deal less expensive than they were 10-20 years ago. This paragraph, cited at this earlier BizzyBlog post, from Pete DuPont’s November 22 column bears repeating, and re-repeating:

    A recent Global Insights analysis concludes that Wal-Mart’s 1985-2004 expansion of sales resulted in a 9.1% drop in the price of food at home, a 4.2% drop in the price of other goods and commodities, and a 3.1% decline in consumer prices overall, saving the average working family about $2,329 per year. And with that came a net increase of 210,000 Wal-Mart jobs in 2004 alone.

    That $2,329 is a very big percentage of the income of the bottom two quintiles, and turns what appear to be relatively nominal gains in those income groups into undeniably major improvements. UPDATE: Even if the lower quintiles spend substantially less on average on the items involved, the dollars saved are still going to be a pretty high percentage of the $2,329 (after the all, the items described are usually referred to as “necessities).

Krugman is the economist New York Times readers rely on for information on what is really happening in business and the economy. Chalk up this area as yet another in which Times readers are very poorly served.

Cross-posted at

Earlier today Tax Foundation: Tears for the ‘Bottom Quintile’ Are Almost Completely Wasted



  1. Yet in almost every suburban high school across the state of Ohio, Paul Krugman and the New York Times are referred to more often than any other economic source. His articles appear in almost every major Ohio newspaper, which becomes the only piece of economic data Martha and George Buckeye read. Do you think any Ohio high school student knows anything about The Buckeye Institute; probably not because their teacher doesn’t either.

    Tom, check out this posting today in The Belmont Club; I read Belmont first and pulled my thoughts from this article.

    Comment by Brian — December 6, 2006 @ 4:40 pm

  2. Sorry here is the link:

    Comment by Brian — December 6, 2006 @ 4:41 pm

  3. I read it. It’s discouraging as far as adults are concerned, but less so as time goes by, because circs are dropping. As for the schools, relying on Krugman is malpractice.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 6, 2006 @ 4:52 pm

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