Krugman wins Economics Nobel

Paul Krugman, a professor at Princeton and Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Science this week. The prize committee cited Mr. Krugman for his “analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.” Whatever that means?

According to John Quiggan, the rules of the prize, honoured more in the breach than in the observance in economics, say that it is supposed to be given for a specific discovery, and Krugman is cited for his groundbreaking work in the economics of location done from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.

The reality, though, is that economics prizes are awarded for careers. Krugman’s early work put him on the list of likely Nobelists, but his career took an unusual turn around the time of the 2000 election campaign. While he has still been active in academic research, Krugman’s career for the last eight years or more has been dominated by his struggle (initially a very lonely one) against the lies of the Bush Administration, its supporters and enablers.

But Nicholas Gruen, Crikey contributor, suggests Krugman should have received the prize for his journalism. Here’s a chronological list of the highlights of his literary career.

1. “New” of strategic trade theory
2. Economic geography
3. His writing on financial crises
4. Economic journalism for Slate — serious lengthy articles explaining economics to the interested layperson
5. Economic journalism of the NYT op ed kind.

But the list is also in reverse order of significance, says Gruen. Though Krugman got the Nobel for items 1 and 2, I would have given it to him for items 3 to 5. Krugman’s work has got better and better.

Especially his efforts as an author; in particular, The Great Unraveling and The Conscience of a Liberal. Both make for valid and valuable reading amid today’s tectonic shifts in world markets.

Read full story at The New York Times.

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