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How to Beat a Dead Horse, by Nobel Economist Paul Krugman

How to Beat a Dead Horse, by Nobel Economist Paul Krugman
Photograph by Scott Eells/Bloomberg

Part of the answer is paying attention to events, looking for the illustration, looking for the dramatic motivating example. It kind of helps to use various people as foils. If someone has said something that’s demonstrably at odds with experience or just demonstrably stupid, I use it. Jean-Claude Trichet [former president of the European Central Bank] delivered some wonderful quotes. Olli Rehn [vice president of the European Commission] has been doing beautifully helpful quotations. I’m not being unfair to him. The austerity thing has been helped on a great deal as an argument by unfolding events in Europe. In 2010 it was based mostly on the logic of the case, not the evidence. Now I can say, “Look, you’ve done this thing. Look what’s happened. Look at Britain. Look at Portugal.”

Metaphors, if you can find good ones, are helpful. Sometimes you can mull over an issue for years before the right thing comes to you. “Confidence fairy” has been a good friend to me. That one just came out of the blue in 2010. “Zombie ideas” is not original with me, but it’s been very useful.