Krugman Spat With Professor Explodes Online

Sniping turns to race when Ferguson calls Obama Felix the Cat
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2009 7:32 AM CDT
Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman speaks during a press conference at the World Capital Markets Symposium in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Monday, Aug. 10, 2009.   (AP Photo/Lai Seng Sin)
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(Newser) – Niall Ferguson picked the wrong Nobel-winning economist to mess with. The Scottish historian, who teaches at Harvard, has been caught up in a high-profile academic feud with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, who has called him a "poseur" and a "whiner" in recent blog posts. Ferguson hit back at Krugman for being "patronizing"—but then made an embarrassing analogy of President Obama to Felix the Cat. "Felix was not only black," he wrote. "He was always very, very lucky. And that pretty much sums up the 44th President of the US."

The Independent details the academic brouhaha, which began at an April panel discussion where Ferguson warned of an American debt crisis, leading spending-hawk Krugman to laugh out loud. The economist then called his views "really sad" and "depressing," to which Ferguson responded that Krugman should take an economics refresher course. How bad is the catfight? Even Henry Louis Gates Jr has gotten involved—opining that black fur doesn't make Felix black any more than it does Mickey Mouse.