Future cohorts and future national income are different

And Krugman's first post on this several months ago talked an awful lot about GDP, which puts him in the second group.

Dean Baker's initial post several months ago used mushier talk than Krugman's that did get into things like "the future" (whatever that means). If I recall I complained that Baker did that back then.

I was hammering this point as the really essential difference the whole time, and now Bob Murphy's co-conspirator Nick Rowe is making the point quite emphatically as well.

If we are talking about Krugman's post, I pretty much agree with Krugman on the points he made. If we are talking about Rowe's post and future cohorts of people, then I pretty much agree with him. His verbal OLG models illustrate the point, but Bob's tables make it really obvious.

A couple more thoughts:

(1.) If we are talking about GDP and not cohorts, it might be relevant to talk about growth too. But since when we talk about GDP debt has no effect (a la Krugman) it's a moot point so I don't worry all that much that we haven't been talking about growth.

(2.) If we are talking about future cohorts of people like Rowe wants to, it might be relevant to talk about population growth. Since debt does have an effect when we talk about future cohorts it's probably more important that someone think this through with population growth. As far as I know no one in this blog discussion has done that. That won't rescue Japan. It may make a difference for the United States.

(3.) As Gene Callahan has been pointing out the problem here isn't so much the debt as the inter-temporal transfers. You can get the same issues with taxation. So maybe we shouldn't think of this as a problem inherent in debt and instead think of it as an inherent problem of transfers. I don't know what the fact that you can roll over debt does to this argument exactly. It probably just amplifies the problem.

Anyway, Nick Rowe, if we are genuinely facing a "Borges Problem" it seems unfair to call the other side "zombies".

If you didn't understand this post, don't worry about it.