Should Krugman Replace Bernanke?
Felix Salmon submits: What would happen if Ben Bernanke withdrew his name from consideration as Fed chairman, and Barack Obama picked up the phone and asked Paul Krugman to step into the breach? Bruce Bartlett reckons that “Paul has enough sense not to accept the position even if it is offered–just as Milton Friedman rejected Reagan’s offer for him to replace Volcker in 1982″ — but I’m not so sure. After Simon Johnson proposed the idea, Krugman said that it was “crazy” — but he did so without saying that he would refuse the job if offered. I think he’s sensible to leave the door ajar: it’s really hard to say no to a president who asks you to serve your country by taking what Matt Yglesias calls “the single most important domestic policy job in the country”. Take another look at that Krugman blog entry: most of it is taken up with reasons not to confirm Bernanke. The only reason to confirm Bernanke, in Krugman’s book, is that he’s “a great economist” who acted forcefully at the height of the crisis. But we’re not at the height of the crisis any more, and Bernanke isn’t about to leave the FOMC any time soon — in fact, he’d probably stay on as chairman* more or less indefinitely, as Krugman or any other potential successor wended their way through a long and inevitably partisan nomination process. Would he lose power and influence as a lame duck? Not if the new nominee was public in supporting his policies, as Krugman probably would be.Complete Story »