Sunday, February 22, 2009

Krugman, The Nobel Prize, and What We Should Make of It

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 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.


..... said...

Heresy! How dare you question the teachings of Saint Krugman? I wouldn't be surprised if your blog was beset with a virus of some sort.

Pat M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat M said...

(2nd post to correct a typo in the first comment...)

I'm flattered to be cited, sir!

I named Krugman because I think he's:
1- Right about the correct response to the "highlights" of our current crisis
2- in possession of an easier name to spell than "Nouriel Roubini"
3- more well-known than any of the currently-publishing economists who have worked/are working at the IMF, Federal Reserve, on trading floors, or at various universities across the world.

I don't think he's to be sainted. In the context I name-dropped, though, I think my point was valid: What, exactly, does he (or other experts who agree with him) have to gain if he is involved in some kind conspiracy to slander Phil Gramm?

Mudge said...

Skonesam - 1. Thanks for clarifying your removal (was worried that CW had invoked his new policy without letting us know!) 2. I love your 2nd comment. 3. I enjoy your writing even though...4. I couldn't agree more with CW's post. 5. Are you a bloke named "Sam" who likes to eat skones or are you a SK1 named Sam? (I'm a bit of a usernameophile).

Pat M said...

So few people ask! It is (or was, more likely) the name of a desk from Ikea. It wasn't even my desk, but I helped assemble it.

I like that it's completely without expectations... sounds like a word, but isn't. Has no connotations or background.

Ultimately, I have the same problem with bumper stickers and personalized license plates: I have a myriad of interests, and personal qualities (IMHO), that to reduce them to one seems limiting. Sooo.... Skonesam.

P.S. Definitely not enlisted, nor a supply weenie. A wise man once told me: Never trust anyone whose collar devices don't match.

Newer Post Older Post Home