We've had a few posts recently where folks have lustily put forth the name Paul Krugman as someone of whom we should all take heed. His recent Nobel Prize in Economics is most often cited as rationale for our fealty, but yesterday, Skonesam, a new name to our site, put forward the notion that his non-partisanship or, well, let me use Skonesam's words..."On the other, we have many renowned economists (both academic and practicing), including at least one Nobel Laureate (Krugman) who don't have any obvious axes to grind" is another reason he should be listened to.
Paul Krugman has no obvious axes to grind? Paul Krugman does not write an economics column for the New York Times, he writes a political commentary column. Even a cursory check of his back columns would lead an reasonable person to conclude that he is fervently anti-Republican, a die-hard social liberal, and that his attacks on the Bush Administration have been unrelenting. The thought that Krugman has no axe to grind is laughable...grinding axes has been his stock in trade! Krugman did not win a Nobel Prize for his work in the linkage between stimuli, taxes, and recovery. He won ostensibly for his work on globalization. Moreover, the Nobel Prize has become a politicized platform for anti-US rhetoric, and Krugman's visceral disgust at our last President was music to their ears.
But let's suspend reality for a second, and assume that Krugman's work and skill as an economist WAS indeed worth the highest prize in Economics. Does this in and of itself mean he should be listened to on economic matters? I would say, of course. He is a respected economist, and I'm quite sure he has fascinating and enlightening theories. These ideas however, do not immunize him from that which ultimately is all of our Achilles heel--the fact that we are human. One only need look to the failure of Long-Term Capital Management--with its TWO NOBEL LAUREATES in Economics...in addition to a legion of other academics...for evidence that EVEN Paul Krugman should be subject to criticism and questioning. Because Krugman says it does not make it so.