Congratulations Paul Krugman!

Congratulations to Paul Krugman, the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize in economics! This is a well-deserved award.

The prize citation describes this as an award “for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.” More info is available here and here; for the econ-aficionados, try here.

Krugman’s accumulated scientific writings amount to an astonishing contribution. As an international economist, he has been working the same intellectual fields as giants like Ricardo, Samuelson, and Ohlin.

Before Krugman, it was hard to believe that there was a lot more to be learned about trade theory, and the profession had moved on to what many believed were more fertile fields.

Krugman’s insights helped bring trade theory into closer connection with data on how trade flows actually work. The same insights he brought to understanding patterns of international trade have also breathed new life into urban economics, which focuses on understanding the pattern of economic activity across space.

More than any other recent Nobelist, Krugman is no stranger to the general public. I’m sure that his other role as a New York Times columnist and an outspoken critic of the Bush administration will be the lede in discussions of this prize. But the prize is given for scientific research, and economists of all political stripes agree that Krugman’s economic writings are Nobel-worthy.

Even so, Krugman’s broader role is not, and should not, be irrelevant. Over the past decade or so, he has been a determined crisis chaser, offering useful insights on topics like the Asian financial crisis, Latin America, and, well, the United States.

Indeed, his real-time analysis of the current crisis has been important and helpful in shaping the policy debate.

The risk of real-time policy advice is that you risk being wrong; the upside is that you may actually affect the policy debate while it is going on. Krugman has the courage to be on the right side of this risk-reward tradeoff, even as too many economists prefer being slow, correct, but irrelevant to being fast, mostly right, and extremely relevant.

Whether you like his Times columns or not, you have to admire Krugman’s tenacity. He personifies the true public intellectual, and even when he writes a column that irritates you, at least you know it involves careful thought and a true dedication to the public debate.

Beyond his column, he’s also a popular textbook author, and was one of the first economists to understand the power of the web as a way of communicating to a broader audience.

In fact, only 40 minutes after the prize was awarded, Krugman’s blog was updated with a wry message: “A funny thing happened to me this morning …”

There’s no way that Krugman will remember this, but I remember clearly the first time I met him.

In the summer following my first year of graduate school, I attended an S.S.R.C.-run workshop designed to reconnect aspiring economists with real-world economics. Krugman was a speaker at the workshop. After his talk, he spent the evening around a fireplace enjoying a few beers and sharing his career wisdom with the gathered graduate students. These sorts of investments in the economics profession don’t occur in the public eye, and they require a real belief in the power of economics.

Congratulations Paul!


Gerald Campeau

Congradulations Paul

I aplood your courage and wisdom in opposing the Iraqu war from the beginning you where a lonely voice in the spirit of Eienstain you stood up and made your pen speak for me and others the truth.

Daniel Reeves

Well, Krugman has contributed a lot to economics and deserves a Nobel prize, but the timing is a bit odd; he should have already won a prize many many years ago, and someone like Barro or Feldstein should have won this year. Really, how much more has Krugman contributed to academic economics since becoming a columnist for the Times?

steve pesce: he supports a capital injection as per Sweden, which is a bailout but not the bailout we got. Not sure what you're ranting about.

vanderleun

" With today's award to Paul Krugman, the Nobel as gone to an economist who died a decade ago. The person alive to receive the award is merely a public intellectual, a person operating in the same domain as Oprah Winfrey. And even as a public intellectual, the prize is inappropriate, because never before has a scientist operating in the capacity of a public intellectual so abused and debased the science he purports to represent. Krugman's New York Times column drawing on economics is the equivalent of 2006's Nobelists in Physics, astromers Mather and Smoot, doing a column on astrology -- and then, in that column, telling lies about astronomy."

http://www.poorandstupid.com/2008_10_12_chronArchive.asp#900412095577268845

Smitty

I've been an avid reader of Krugman's columns since 2000, when he started, and what's amazing is how on target his analysis has been, and how willing he has been to correct it when wasn't. He has always helped to take the debate away from a particular ideology and moved it towards, "Hey what do the facts tell us?" From the housing bubble to the Iraq war, to the economy in general, he has always helped me to be on the right side of the argument. Thanks, and congratulations to you, Paul!

steve pesce

Krugman vehemently supported the bailout to line the pockets of the rich fat cats on wall street. He then said it was a terrible idea, after it was voted in. Who pays these columnists to lie to the American taxpayer in support of the thieves on Wall Street? It's time to remember who the liars were when this was proposed. And shame them for their crimes against our country.

Adam

#4, I agree. Also, and I realize that Krugman has attributed much to the Economics field, the Nobels seem to be more about making political statements as well.

Gray

"the Nobels seem to be more about making political statements as well"

Uh huh. Even in economics? So, honoring Milton Friedman was a political statement? And Joseph Stiglitz, not so long ago? Aw, come on...

jblog

I'd be far more impressed if the Nobels hadn't devolved into being the intellectual equivalent of the Oscars.

sunny

I was disappointed by Krugman's stubborn defense of the behavior of the Clintons this election cycle.

But, when it comes to economic matters, he is consistently an essential voice and resource.

Congratulations! Well deserved.

An observer

You know, there is no such thing as a Nobel prize in economics, a fact that economists seem anxious to ignore.

He merely won the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel. Distinctly NOT an actual Nobel prize.

Ellene Cain

What is it with the American psyche? We need our best and brightest to shed light on the realities we must face. Thank you Paul for being politically outspoken and I brilliant economics scholar at the same time.

Imad Qureshi

Just to remind some people specially John McCain. Paul Krugman predicted housing bubble.

doug

I hope he feels especially patriotic after receiving his monetary award!

psikeyhackr

It is really interesting the economists don't have to know grade school algebra but can get Nobel Prizes. But it isn't a REAL Nobel since it comes from the Swedish Bank not Alfred.

How much do consumers lose on the depreciation of automobiles every year? When have you heard economists mention that? They define depreciation as applying to CAPITAL GOODS ONLY.

Cars purchased by consumers are treated like bananas.

GlobaLIES