Krugman

13 October 2008 at 3:01 pm 4 comments

| Peter Klein |

I don’t have time for a thoughtful and intelligent post on Paul Krugman’s Nobel Prize, so a few snippets from other commentators will have to do for now.

In a surprise twist, Paul Krugman (Princeton) was announced the winner of the 2008 Nobel Prize in economics. Surprise not because he does not deserve it — Krugman’s work on trade theory is widely acknowledged — but because the Nobel committee passed over Jagdish Bhagwati (Columbia), who has lobbied for it for years. As Professor Bhagwati’s main work is also on trade theory, it makes it unlikely he will get the Nobel any time soon. (Bhagwati was also Krugman’s teacher at MIT.) This announcement also dents the hopes of Anne Krueger, another top trade theorist.

What is perhaps most interesting about Krugman’s choice is that he stopped doing economics almost 10 years ago and has instead been a columnist for the New York Times. This is good news: shows that you can have a second life and still get dividends on the first.

Pierre Desrochers:

Funny how most economist like Tyler [Cowen] are “most fond of Krugman’s pieces on economic geography, in particular on cities and the economic rationales for clustering” when in fact Krugman added very little to a body of knowledge that is more than a century old. But it was new to most economists.

An anonymous economic grographer:

I did my graduate school training in the mid 1990s when economic geographers and regional scientists would bitch slap Krugman behind closed doors, yet were grateful that he was bringing them respectability among mainstream economists. Interestingly, Krugman published his first significant piece of work on the issue (Geography and Trade, 1991) at about the same time that the University of Pennsylvania was shutting down its regional science department (1993). But in his modest opinion, Regional Science was just a bunch of techniques or tools lacking an integrative framework (one way to avoid looking bad by being so obviously ignorant about it when he first began writing on location theory and the like).

Paul Krugman, speaking at a 1999 conference in honor of Bertil Ohlin (HT to Neel):

Let me begin with an embarrassing admission: until I began working on this paper, I had never actually read Ohlin’s Interregional and International Trade. I suppose that my case was not that unusual: modern economists, trained to think in terms of crisp formal models, typically have little patience with the sprawling verbal expositions of a more leisurely epoch. To the extent that we care about intellectual history at all, we tend to rely on translators — on transitional figures like Paul Samuelson, who extracted models from the literary efforts of their predecessors. And let me also admit that reading Ohlin in the original is still not much fun: the MIT-trained economist in me keeps fidgeting impatiently, wondering when he will get to the point — that is, to the kernel of insight that ended up being grist for the mills of later modelers.

Entry filed under: - Klein -, People.

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4 Comments Add your own

  • […] 13, 2008 Posted by claudio in Uncategorized. Tags: Nobel de Economia, Paul Krugman trackback An anonymous economic grographer: I did my graduate school training in the mid 1990s when economic geographers and regional […]

  • 2. David Hoopes  |  13 October 2008 at 11:17 pm

    Time out time out? What’s going on? Everyone is okay with this? Am I missing something? Does Krugman really outstrip Bhagwati? And really, Krugman’s international trade theory work frequently is mis-cited by protectionists. Does he deserve it? More than Fama, Barro, or Tirole?

    Well, if they can give a Peace Prize to Al Gore I guess they can say that Krugman is the most important economist not yet awarded. But, I think it has more to do with his hatred for G.W.B than anything else. I suppose this gets him a good job with the Obama administration.

  • 3. Warren Miller  |  14 October 2008 at 8:24 am

    Whatever contributions Krugman might have made to economics back-when–a judgment I’m not qualified to make–he has since become a full-blown ideologue, a political hack with one guiding mission: to spew as much venom as possible on anyone or any idea to the right of Castro/Chavez/Kim Jong Il. At least one observer in the last 24 hours has recommended doing away with the Nobel Memorial Prize in economics because it is nothing more than Hard Left politics in the guise of respectability. Conferring the same honor on Krugman that came to Hayek makes retention of this prize a tough argument to make, in my less-than-humble opinion. Then again, generalizing from a sample of two (incl. Algore) is pretty weak stuff.

  • 4. Cliff Grammich  |  14 October 2008 at 9:45 am

    My own blog reading lately has varied from Lew Rockwell to Daily Kos (with O&M always among the choicest nuggets!). I mention that only because yesterday I started with Kos for whatever reason (likely my enjoyment of hyperbole in this silly season), and that is where I first read Krugman won the prize. That seemed so far-fetched even (especially?) there that I thought it was a prank (like the SNL skit where President Al Gore recounts the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Michael Moore).

    Oh, well, maybe the best that can be said about it is what Peter quotes Djankov saying about dividends from a first life paying off in a second . . .

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