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Paul Krugman: We Could End This Depression Right Now

The Nobel laureate talks about Washington, Europe and the bizarre alternate universe inhabited by deficit fear-mongering media and political elites.

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JH: That was actually a trade protectionism agreement then?

PK: It was in effect. If you really look through it you found out that basically workers in those countries were gaining only a little bit more market access, but pharma companies here and in Europe were gaining a lot more in the ability to basically enforce their monopoly position.

JH: Now you have this elite discourse about the deficit and that elides the success that we’ve seen over generations in terms of Keynesian economics. Do you think the fact that we have a half-dozen countries in Europe have gone back into recession -- and a couple more are teetering on the brink of going back in recession as a result of this austerity madness -- is that changing people’s minds in terms of policy makers?

PK: Well, some. Not enough, but I think we’re making progress. I’ve been writing columns for a dozen years and my first principle is that to a first approximation nobody ever admits that they were wrong about anything. But you can see that, clearly, the tone of the discussion has changed quite a lot over the last six months -- that we are moving back towards sanity. Whether it’ll be time enough to avoid catastrophe I don’t know. I think hammering on these points and pointing to the evidence does seem to work, which is why I published the book. It’s in the hope we can get the debate to move a little bit further in the direction of doing the right thing.

JH: It’s been interesting to watch your progression as a blogger. You're obviously a leading public intellectual, but you're not above posting silly cat videos, are you?

PK: Well, that’s what you’ve got to do. That’s a great medium for somebody who thinks the way I do. It’s kind of a scratch pad for things that end being in columns and books. I find it an all-around fulfilling exercise, although it’s taking up too much time everyday.

Joshua Holland is an editor and senior writer at AlterNet. He is the author of The 15 Biggest Lies About the Economy: And Everything else the Right Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes, Jobs and Corporate America . Drop him an email or follow him on Twitter.

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