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The Nobel Prize is Shrill
October 13, 2008 5:56 AM   Subscribe


 
And not in the least for being the single sane voice in the American mass media lambasting the stupid politics of the George W. Bush administration since day one, one might add.
posted by ijsbrand at 5:59 AM on October 13, 2008 [6 favorites]


This is good news.
posted by hoskala at 6:00 AM on October 13, 2008


His NYT columns are the only thing in there that I don't read with a pre-jaundiced eye. Good on him!
posted by notsnot at 6:00 AM on October 13, 2008


This should help reinforce his credentials when he talks about economic policy or makes economic policy prescriptions. He'll still get ignored by the Friedman disciples but it should be harder for them to ignore him now.
posted by vuron at 6:03 AM on October 13, 2008


Oh yeah, he's an economist too...
posted by Pants! at 6:06 AM on October 13, 2008


Hurray for Paul! Not that I am a believer in prizes per se, but I was more than happy when Doris Lessing won the big N for literature last year. I wonder, what does such a person do with 1.4 million? And where will he hang the diploma?
posted by emhutchinson at 6:07 AM on October 13, 2008


What if anything does it mean that paul Krugman favored Hillary over Obama in the primaries? He at time appeared very skeptical of Barack. BTW congratulations.
posted by Xurando at 6:12 AM on October 13, 2008


I wonder, what does such a person do with 1.4 million?

If I understand correctly he knows a few things about managing money.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 6:13 AM on October 13, 2008 [10 favorites]


whoa, that is seriously great news.

I'm not sure if it was princeton but I read of someone writing about sitting in a teachers dining hall once after having gotten a nobel prize and having all the other professors come to his table and place their pens on his desk. it was described as a tradition.

like with nearly all my memories I have forgotten details as to who or in fact where this was. anyone know more?
posted by krautland at 6:19 AM on October 13, 2008


Just what we need... Paul Krugman with an even bigger ego.

The guy is pretty good, but hardly infallable... especially when he gets so wrapped up with politics that he overlooks the reality of the situation.
posted by markkraft at 6:21 AM on October 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


Mr. Krugman continues to teach at Princeton. This semester Mr. Krugman is teaching a graduate-level course on international monetary policy and theory, covering such timely subjects as international liquidity crises. According to Princeton’s Web site, four students are currently enrolled in the class.
That sounds like a tough class.
posted by stbalbach at 6:24 AM on October 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


I can't help but suspect that it was his politics as much as his economics that won him the prize.
posted by Slothrup at 6:25 AM on October 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


I don't know who he is, so I googled him and found this 1h clip on youtube from authors@google: "The Conscience of a Liberal", where he talks about the economic crisis before it really took off. FYI.
posted by kolophon at 6:27 AM on October 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


I can't help but think is another way of the European community giving a big old "fuck you" to George W. Bush in the most polite way possible. Gore and then Krugman? Gore and Krugman are certainly worthy of the honors they received, but the timing is just too deliciously coincidental.
posted by jonp72 at 6:29 AM on October 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


Excellent. Couldn't have gone to someone more deserving.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:30 AM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


jonp72: wouldn't be the first time. nixon was said to be incensed at kissinger and not he himself getting the prize back in the days.
posted by krautland at 6:33 AM on October 13, 2008



I can't help but suspect that it was his politics as much as his economics that won him the prize.


The nobel prize, you'll remember, was once given to Henry Kissinger for peace. Peace! Anyway, I feel like the a panel of judges made up of economists is gonna tend to be conservative. And although we know him more for his political work, Krugman's economic theory is profoundly important.
posted by Jon_Evil at 6:33 AM on October 13, 2008


Krugman owns.
posted by Damn That Television at 6:34 AM on October 13, 2008


I had no idea. I had always assumed that he was just a lecturer, rather than a hardcore researcher/theoretician.

The guy is pretty good, but hardly infallable..

Name me one economist that is and I will share with you a portion of the proceeds that I earn while following that economist's advice. They don't call it the dismal science because it's easy to be right.
posted by psmealey at 6:35 AM on October 13, 2008


I wonder, what does such a person do with 1.4 million?


With the way he feels about the Bush economy I suspect his mattress is going to look something like this
posted by any major dude at 6:36 AM on October 13, 2008


In my heart of hearts, I'm hoping that Obama (should he win) would nominate Krugman for Fed Chairman. Krugman's views are more closely aligned with the Europeans, and this type of crisis (with its long-lasting implications) demands global unification to avoid protectionism (and a decade of isolationism, which would cripple the global economy and our ability to tackle our massive debt, since interest rates on Treasuries might spike).
posted by SeizeTheDay at 6:45 AM on October 13, 2008 [10 favorites]


I enjoy reading his columns.

That said, cue FOX news special report on how Alfred Nobel was a muslim terrorist.
posted by bardic at 6:45 AM on October 13, 2008 [8 favorites]


> The nobel prize, you'll remember, was once given to Henry Kissinger for peace.

Please let us put that lapse behind us. For peace.
posted by ardgedee at 6:46 AM on October 13, 2008


Good for him. But, honestly, his column on the 2nd bailout plan - which told the world, "I hope the plan passes, because otherwise we’ll probably see even worse panic in the markets" - sure looks pretty dumb now. He's not *that* important, but he is widely followed on the left, and his centrist establishment "we must accept this now" position took the wind out of a lot of anti-bailout opponents' sails, even as he admitted "the fact is that the plan on offer is a stinker — and inexcusably so."

Which, again, looks pretty stupid now, given that hasty passage of that "stinker" of a bill did pretty much nothing to stem "worse panic in the markets."

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised when establishment intellectuals circle round the establishment during times of severe crisis, but I'd definitely have a lot more respect for Krugman if he hadn't caved on what was so fucking clearly a piece of horseshit legislation.

But hey, congrats on the Nobel, Paul. Maybe it'll give you the confidence to stick to your guns next time the markets are in crisis.
posted by mediareport at 6:56 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Krugman has a beautiful gift for making the incomprehensible seem obvious; rare among Nobel laureates.
posted by bonaldi at 6:56 AM on October 13, 2008


I'm not sure if it was princeton but I read of someone writing about sitting in a teachers dining hall once after having gotten a nobel prize and having all the other professors come to his table and place their pens on his desk. it was described as a tradition.

Well, it's a scene in A Beautiful Mind. And heh:
In the movie A Beautiful Mind there is a scene in which faculty members present their pens to Nash. What is the origin of the pen ceremony? When did it start?

The scene in the movie A Beautiful Mind in which mathematics professors ritualistically present pens to Nash was completely fabricated in Hollywood. No such custom exists.
posted by smackfu at 7:00 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Now he'll be able to afford a MeFi account.
posted by chillmost at 7:00 AM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Oh, and FWIW, I find NYT business columnist Joe Nocera is routinely a more clear and sharp economics writer than Krugman. I wish the Times ran him more often than Saturday.
posted by mediareport at 7:07 AM on October 13, 2008


Which, again, looks pretty stupid now, given that hasty passage of that "stinker" of a bill did pretty much nothing to stem "worse panic in the markets."

Except that Paulson and Co. are using parts of the passed bill to potentially buy stakes in companies. From the Journal this morning:

The Treasury Department tapped law firm Simpson Thatcher to provide advice on taking equity stakes in banks as part of its $700 billion rescue plan for the financial sector,

Mr. Kashkari said Treasury had leeway under the $700 billion plan, which had been sold to lawmakers as a plan to buy bad assets from Wall Street, to buy equity in firms.

"Treasury worked hard with Congress to build in this flexibility because the one constant throughout the credit crisis has been its unpredictability," Mr. Kashkari said.


The passed bill is still going to take weeks to implement (you can't simply start buying crappy assets off the banks' books; there is a huge amount of legwork that needs to be done). As I said above, I think that Krugman would've been more open to European counsel, though Bernanke has reached out and his actions have spoken louder than Paulson's useless rhetoric.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:08 AM on October 13, 2008


This changes everything!!! </sarcasm>

Congratulations, Professor Krugman. Merit merits merits, as I always say, and you've been doing pretty solid economics for a good long time. The economic community has known so for a good long time, too, but you needed a little more grey in your beard before they could give you the big one.
posted by dilettanti at 7:08 AM on October 13, 2008


It is also impossible to tell whether the current panic and instability that is fueling the Wall Street sell-off would've been better or worse in the absence of a passed bail-out bill. While there does seem indications that the sell-off would've been bad regardless I wonder if there would be even more panic if the political leadership of this country was still struggling to come to some sort of consensus.

As a pundit and economist he should've probably stuck to his guns and insisted that the bail-out bill take a different form but as a human being it's definitely easy to blink in the face of an impending disaster and latch onto a crappy solution as being better than no solution at all.
posted by vuron at 7:19 AM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


"Treasury worked hard with Congress to build in this flexibility because the one constant throughout the credit crisis has been its unpredictability," Mr. Kashkari said.

Except that the above is complete bullshit after-the-fact spin. The Times reported yesterday that Treasury didn't want that flexibility at all, and in fact actively disdained it:

Two weeks after persuading Congress to let it spend $700 billion to buy distressed securities tied to mortgages, the Bush administration has put that idea aside in favor of a new approach that would have the government inject capital directly into the nation’s banks — in effect, partially nationalizing the industry. As recently as Sept. 23, senior officials had publicly derided proposals by Democrats to have the government take ownership stakes in banks...

As recently as late September, the idea of letting the government buy part of the banking system had been unthinkable in the Bush administration. To many officials, such intervention seemed like a European-style government intrusion in the markets.

“Some said we should just stick capital in the banks, take preferred stock in the banks. That’s what you do when you have failure,” Mr. Paulson told the Senate Banking Committee on Sept. 23. “This is about success.”

Mr. Paulson told lawmakers it made more sense to jumpstart the frozen credit markets with “market measures,” by which he meant buying up assets rather than institutions. He staunchly resisted Democratic proposals to require that the government receive an equity stake in the companies it was helping.


So, um, the second lesson for today? Interim Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Neel Kashkari is not necessarily your most trustworthy source of information.
posted by mediareport at 7:28 AM on October 13, 2008


I really, really hope that the White House ceremony in which the President honors this year's American recipients happens before Bush leaves office.
posted by gsteff at 7:34 AM on October 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


What if anything does it mean that paul Krugman favored Hillary over Obama in the primaries?

It means she had a better health care plan. And she did—even as someone who has supported Obama and opposed her since the beginning of this long electoral season I can agree with that.
posted by grouse at 7:34 AM on October 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


latch onto a crappy solution as being better than no solution at all.

Those weren't the only two choices. That's kind of the point.
posted by mediareport at 7:34 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I wonder, what does such a person do with 1.4 million?

Yeah, it's sort of ironic that this came at a time when there are no banks left standing where he can open a safe account....
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 7:36 AM on October 13, 2008


The bailout was written primarily by the Dems. You're right that Paulson didn't want to inject equity. He didn't want to do it because his bestest buddies at Goldman would see their net worths drop like rocks should Goldman need help. I get that. But Congress is now turning the screws on the Treasury, in addition to the ECB, BOE, and Fed concluding that injections of capital seem to be the only way out. And this bill, along with the ability to swap assets for capital, will help pave that direction.

The reason I quoted that article was to show the direction that the Treasury was headed in. I'm well aware that Kashkari is a 35 year old Goldman putz with 5 years of actual financial experience (former NASA engineer). I'm well aware that the Treasury is being run by Goldman cronies who want nothing more than to have their firm rise to the top amidst every other major institution's failure.

But this program, and most of the "saving" of our financial sector, has to be done through the Treasury. There's no getting around that. The Fed by itself does not have the authority to go around printing money to save banks.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:40 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I haven't been this excited for a Nobel in Economic Sciences since Haavelmo won, a long time ago
posted by matteo at 7:47 AM on October 13, 2008


The nobel prize, you'll remember, was once given to Henry Kissinger for peace.

But that was in another country.
posted by biffa at 7:49 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


BTW, this is me on September 20 stating that we should take equity stakes in the banks. Hell, if you'd asked me, I would've said that following Bear's demise, you could see the systemic risk on the walls. The question I keep asking is, Did we fail to act because 1) We thought the problem would go away?; 2) We didn't fully understand the risks?; 3) We wanted certain banks to fail/merge?; 4) There simply wasn't the political will necessary?

Really, I'm torn between two theories, which are that the Treasury is full of ex-Goldman guys who were thinking about their own pockets, and that Congress is too fucking stupid to act unless there's a real crisis at hand. The Journal had a little factoid the other day discussing the fact that 6-8% of Congress has an economics degree or minor. Congress isn't economically or financially savvy, and they proved it by failing to pass the bill the first time. Only when their phones rang off the hook from people who just saw their 401ks drop 10% did they decide to act.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 7:50 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


yes. good on him.
posted by ilovemytoaster at 7:52 AM on October 13, 2008


The Nobel Prize committee itself publishes excellent layman's introductions to the work being honored (better than any newspaper article you'll read about it today), Krugman's is here.
posted by gsteff at 7:55 AM on October 13, 2008 [7 favorites]


Congress isn't economically or financially savvy, and they proved it by failing to pass the bill the first time.

Um, no. Had they passed that first bailout bill, it would have been incontrovertible proof of Congress' economic stupidity. Passing the 2nd one is proof enough, though.
posted by mediareport at 7:56 AM on October 13, 2008


But, honestly, his column on the 2nd bailout plan - which told the world, "I hope the plan passes, because otherwise we’ll probably see even worse panic in the markets" - sure looks pretty dumb now. He's not *that* important, but he is widely followed on the left, and his centrist establishment "we must accept this now" position took the wind out of a lot of anti-bailout opponents' sails, even as he admitted "the fact is that the plan on offer is a stinker — and inexcusably so."

The act passed and it passed with the authority to buy equity shares just as it had the authority to buy the toxic mortgage-backed securities. Paulson is realigning his execution to mirror the British/European approach. Certainly this wasn't the most elegant route to our current position but it's not like we had anything else on the table, and our current administration is kinda retarded. So where was the harm in the push for the bailout? In fact, I'd say the naysayers caused more harm than anything since it strapped us with an extra 150 billion in pork.
posted by effwerd at 7:58 AM on October 13, 2008


A quick reminder: there no such thing as a Nobel prize in economics. What Krugman was awarded is the The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, established in 1969 by the Riksbank. It is a prestigious award, but not one of the 5 Nobel prizes established in 1895. I don't know the whole story behind the creation of the economics prize, but a cynic might easily think that economists have somehow "hijacked" the Nobel legacy in order to bolster the prestige of their discipline.
posted by bluefrog at 8:04 AM on October 13, 2008 [9 favorites]


So where was the harm in the push for the bailout?

In the part that doesn't specifically require banks to start paying the money back once they're flush again. The harm? Your grandkids will laugh at that question.
posted by mediareport at 8:14 AM on October 13, 2008


bluefrog: Yup. Alfred Nobel did not concider economics a science, and the Nobel family hates the prize. It was established in '68 on the 300th anniversary of the Bank of Sweden, and the politicians threatened the Nobel foundation with removing its favourable tax treatment if they didn't accept it.
posted by mr.marx at 8:20 AM on October 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


A quick reminder: there no such thing as a Nobel prize in economics. What Krugman was awarded is the The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel

Which was established to be just like a Nobel. The difference? The five Nobel Prizes are funded by money bequeathed by Alfred Nobel (37M SEK, at the time, equivalent to $187M 2008 USD.) His will was specific that the fund should be held long term, and the interested divided five ways, and awarded for Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Peace, and Physiology or Medicine.

Later, it was decided that economics was worthy of the award, but by the terms of the will, it couldn't be added directly as a Nobel Prize (and couldn't access the fund for the prize money)

So, the fund was set into place by Sveriges Riksbank, and control of distribution was granted to the Royal Academy of Sciences in Sweden, to be award in the exact same fashion as the Nobel prizes. The criteria, presentation, and process are identical to the regular five, and the regard as to which the award is held is also identical.

So, "handwaving" it as a Nobel isn't really wrong. If the terms of Alfred Nobel's will were more flexible, I suspect it would be an official Nobel.
posted by eriko at 8:25 AM on October 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


the politicians threatened the Nobel foundation with removing its favourable tax treatment if they didn't accept it.

Do you have a source for this last bit, mr. marx? I'd love to see it.
posted by mediareport at 8:29 AM on October 13, 2008


It's widely believed that Nobel established the prizes he did because he wasn't interested in theoretical science. Because of this, I find it unlikely that he would have favored an economics prize.

The idea that one could establish a new Nobel prize in any field by endowing it "in memory of Alfred Nobel," and thereby abstract the prestige of the real Nobel prizes, is somewhat bizarre. It seems to have worked for the most part, though.
posted by grouse at 8:42 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I can't help but suspect that it was his politics as much as his economics that won him the prize.

I guess like most people I'm not really familiar with his research so this was my initial impression, but on BBC radio this morning their analyst made it seem like in the economic world it's been a forgone conclusion for some time that Krugman would eventually win one for his trade theories. The timing, however, is probably not coincidental, and so by choosing this year of all years to give Krugman his due, they are of course sending a message along with the award.
posted by The Straightener at 8:43 AM on October 13, 2008


I, too, am furious at Krugman for single-handedly passing the bailout bill. That big jerk.
posted by cortex at 8:46 AM on October 13, 2008


I can't help but think is another way of the European community giving a big old "fuck you" to George W. Bush in the most polite way possible.

George W. Bush will win a Nobel Peace Prize five years from now.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:51 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Congratulations, Professor Krugman. A voice of sanity in a furiously anti-rational world.
posted by fourcheesemac at 8:56 AM on October 13, 2008


I won't pretend to know enough about economics to assess his contribution to the field, but in the realm in which I am qualified to comment, Krugman is a sexy fucker.
posted by troybob at 9:01 AM on October 13, 2008


Next stop: Obama's Sec Treas.
posted by supercres at 9:04 AM on October 13, 2008


George W. Bush will win a Nobel Peace Prize five years from now.

not really but I bet you 20 dollars (I'd bet 1.4M if I had it) that if Obama loses, he gets his Nobel Peace Prize before the 2012 election. which is probably a good thing, there are winners -- as noted above -- that deserved it less.
posted by matteo at 9:06 AM on October 13, 2008


in the realm in which I am qualified to comment, Krugman is a sexy fucker.

Dunno — sounds like speculation to me, unless you have witnessed actual krugfucking.
posted by namespan at 9:08 AM on October 13, 2008


KokuRyu: "George W. Bush will win a Nobel Peace Prize five years from now."

G.W. Bush, Accidental Peacenik
posted by octothorpe at 9:11 AM on October 13, 2008


...sounds like speculation to me, unless you have witnessed actual krugfucking.

If only! And I don't mean to diminish his real contributions here by objectifying him. But, you know...hairy, Jewish, intellectual--this dude is my Eva Longoria.
posted by troybob at 9:23 AM on October 13, 2008


Good for him. But, honestly, his column on the 2nd bailout plan - which told the world, "I hope the plan passes, because otherwise we’ll probably see even worse panic in the markets" - sure looks pretty dumb now. He's not *that* important, but he is widely followed on the left, and his centrist establishment "we must accept this now" position took the wind out of a lot of anti-bailout opponents' sails, even as he admitted "the fact is that the plan on offer is a stinker — and inexcusably so."

Looks dumb in what way? In the sense that the current panic couldn't be any worse then it is now if the bailout hadn't passed? I find that pretty hard to believe. And the new new bailout plan (injecting liquidity by buying bank stock) is possible only because the bailout bill passed in the first place. In fact, what's happened is that Paluson decided to implement the bailout the way Krugman had been advocating anyway. So how on earth does that make him look dumb?

Lots of people were opposed to the first bailout bill, including Krugman. But the bill was changed and people changed their minds. I don't see why that's a problem, or makes him look dumb.

In fact, I'd say the naysayers caused more harm than anything since it strapped us with an extra 150 billion in pork.

Some of that pork helped companies I'm invested in (solar energy) so I'm pretty happy about that :)
posted by delmoi at 9:37 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I like Krugman. I used to love listening to him on Al Franken's radio show. He is actually quite funny (Krugman, that is).
posted by Mister_A at 9:58 AM on October 13, 2008


Also, he's smart with the money stuff. He did a good job of making economics palatable and understandable for me.
posted by Mister_A at 9:59 AM on October 13, 2008


Krugman's great and all, but I didn't really understand his animosity towards Obama during the primaries. It went beyond just being against his health care plan (and if he was going to support a candidate just because of the health care plan, he should have supported Kucinich). He pointed out a lot of times when Obama was unfair to Hilary but never called Hillary on her bullshit. He also flirted with the annoying meme that sexism in the media caused Hillary to lose and that somehow Obama supporters were behind it. It would be awesome if Obama picked him for his cabinet, but somehow I doubt it.
posted by afu at 10:13 AM on October 13, 2008


Some of that pork helped companies I'm invested in (solar energy) so I'm pretty happy about that :)

Oh, come on.
posted by sondrialiac at 10:26 AM on October 13, 2008


"A funny thing happened to me this morning."
posted by hortense at 10:29 AM on October 13, 2008


According to Princeton’s Web site, four students are currently enrolled in the class.

Wait, what? You can spend a semester with Paul Krugman just by enrolling in a class and only four students take advantage of it? In undergraduate school, Larry McMurtry taught a section of freshman English, and you had to fight to get into the class. What the hell is with Princeton students?
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:30 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's a graduate-level class. Maybe there are only four people qualified to enroll.
posted by troybob at 10:36 AM on October 13, 2008


What the hell is with Princeton students?

I had a friend who took his freshman Intro to Macro lecture. Filled to the brim, way more than normal. He's apparently not so great at lecturing.
posted by FuManchu at 10:45 AM on October 13, 2008


Krugman is hilarious. I loved his paper on galactic trade. (warning: pdf)

I have a serious weakness for smart people with a sharp sense of humour.
posted by QIbHom at 10:45 AM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


for single-handedly passing the bailout bill

Yeah, yeah, ok. So does anyone have a link that explains in relatively plain English what Krugman's work on trade was about? That Bloomberg article doesn't offer much:

...he gained his reputation in economics by arguing countries could gain a competitive advantage through subsidies to key industries. His research helped explain how the development of large-scale production for the world market has attracted more people to cities and led to higher wages...

The Princeton economist's academic work analyzed how world trade came to be dominated by countries that both import and export similar products -- automobiles, for example. "This kind of trade enables specialization and large-scale production, which result in lower prices and a greater diversity of commodities,'' the Royal Academy said in a statement today.

posted by mediareport at 10:45 AM on October 13, 2008


Krugman's great and all, but I didn't really understand his animosity towards Obama during the primaries. It went beyond just being against his health care plan (and if he was going to support a candidate just because of the health care plan, he should have supported Kucinich). He pointed out a lot of times when Obama was unfair to Hilary but never called Hillary on her bullshit.

I think that's because Krugman really believes that conservative policy theory is fundamentally incorrect, and was irked by Obama's efforts in the primary to seem non-partisan, to move beyond politics, while Hillary was more proudly liberal. I supported Obama in the primaries, and donated to him, but I do think that Clinton supporters have a right to be annoyed that Hillary was portrayed as the more conservative of the two. She got that label purely because of her vote on the war. I think Krugman was tired of Democrats acting ashamed of liberalism, and felt that Clinton was doing a much better job of portraying liberalism positively than Obama was.

The timing, however, is probably not coincidental, and so by choosing this year of all years to give Krugman his due, they are of course sending a message along with the award.

Judging by the work that they gave him the award for, it looks more likely to me that they were specifically rejecting any effort to connect it to current events. The other big topic of Krugman's research is modern financial crises, and his work there was completely uncited by the committee, at least in the document I linked above. And while his 1991 paper on economic geography (his most influential paper as far as I can tell) seems topical because it describes how transportation costs (oil prices) affect whether manufacturing becomes more or less geographically concentrated, the big movements of manufacturing happened in the 1980s and 1990s... nowadays, the developed world seems more concerned about jobs in the tech and energy sectors.
posted by gsteff at 10:49 AM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Gsteff linked to the Nobel Committee's explanation up a bit. Their description of Krugman's work is probably some of the clearest and most comprehensible economic writing I've read all year.
posted by longdaysjourney at 10:51 AM on October 13, 2008


What the hell is with Princeton students?

Thus proving your eponymosity by failing to pay attention to what you read.
posted by spicynuts at 10:57 AM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


So does anyone have a link that explains in relatively plain English what Krugman's work on trade was about? That Bloomberg article doesn't offer much

Did you already see the Krugman post on Marginal Revolution?
posted by mullacc at 11:00 AM on October 13, 2008


Larry McMurtry taught a section of freshman English, and you had to fight to get into the class.

Ooh. I need to win a Nobel Prize in something, so I can lecture a distinguished class where applicant students exceed available places so greatly that I can arrange the student's names and pictures into a ladder, and then lord over a Mortal Kombat-style arena, commencing each round by commanding "FIGHT!" in a deep voice.

(It would be double awesome if I used the Nobel Peace prize to this end. But I suspect they won't give me one)

My students would be able to beat the crap out of your students.
posted by -harlequin- at 11:16 AM on October 13, 2008


I think that's because Krugman really believes that conservative policy theory is fundamentally incorrect, and was irked by Obama's efforts in the primary to seem non-partisan, to move beyond politics, while Hillary was more proudly liberal.

Really? I think it's because he was a political hack who let his love for what he thought the Clintons had done for his party get in the way not only of his common sense but of the explicit requirements of the paper he was writing for. Which is not to say that he's not a good economist or that he doesn't deserve the prize, that's a totally separate issue, but how do you square any kind of rational debate with a passage like this, from one of his columns in the Times.

I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here: most of the venom I see is coming from supporters of Mr. Obama, who want their hero or nobody. I’m not the first to point out that the Obama campaign seems dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality. We’ve already had that from the Bush administration — remember Operation Flight Suit? We really don’t want to go there again.

What’s particularly saddening is the way many Obama supporters seem happy with the application of “Clinton rules” — the term a number of observers use for the way pundits and some news organizations treat any action or statement by the Clintons, no matter how innocuous, as proof of evil intent.


Seriously, calling Obama supporters a "cult" and supporting it with blind assertions of what "others" have said ("I'm not the first to point out . . . ", "a number of observers" . . .)? That's right out of the Fox playbook. Many Obama supporters haven't forgotten how virulent his opposition to their candidate was under the masthead of the Times. It was inappropriate and showed bad judgment -- had he wanted to campaign for Clinton he should first have suspended his purported position as a journalist. Again, this says nothing about the validity of his economic theories, but lest we fall over ourselves hailing him as a hero of the left just because he dumps on Bush's economic policy, I think you have to note that he's far from a shining beacon of impartiality, at least politically.
posted by The Bellman at 11:16 AM on October 13, 2008


This story by Krugman in 1999 (linked on the front page of Slate today) helps explain the causes between many crises in easy to understand terms.
posted by christonabike at 11:52 AM on October 13, 2008


The idea that one could establish a new Nobel prize in any field by endowing it "in memory of Alfred Nobel," and thereby abstract the prestige of the real Nobel prizes, is somewhat bizarre.

I'm not going to dig up a reference right now (because googling just brings up references to this year's prize right now ;-), but I seem to remember that the foundation has stated that they won't ever accept another "in memory of" Nobel award.
posted by effbot at 11:52 AM on October 13, 2008


> ...he should first have suspended his purported position as a journalist.

He's an Op-Ed columnist, not a journalist, and as such his works is opinion, not journalism. His position and experience provides him the ability to make highly informed opinions, but while he's expected to reveal political/social/professional connections that would influence his writing he is not beholden to journalistic principles of impartiality in the same way reporters are.

Otherwise, y'know, George Will and Bill Kristol would be bylines you'd never see in a newspaper.
posted by ardgedee at 12:00 PM on October 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Absolutely right, ardgedee, and that was sloppy of me -- he's not a journalist and doesn't claim to be. But even the Op-Ed columnists are not supposed to campaign for candidates under the banner of the paper. As the American Prospect said in March, 2008 (on a quick google, to avoid the "some people say" trap):

Krugman, ordinarily an ornament of fair-minded progressive economics commentary, writes almost as if he has become part of the Clinton campaign. His latest characterization of Obama's proposals in commenting on the New York speech -- "cautious and relatively orthodox" -- was preposterous. Even if Krugman's sympathies are with Clinton, he owes it to his readers and to his own credibility to play it straight and credit Obama with a breakthrough when credit is due. This was surely one of those times.
posted by The Bellman at 12:23 PM on October 13, 2008


I wonder, what does such a person do with 1.4 million?

It'd fit in a floppy bank.
posted by srboisvert at 12:56 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


My favorite thing about Krugman is that he's enough of a geek to make an "all your base are belong to us" reference on Olbermann.

I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard it.
posted by tomierna at 1:53 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


had he wanted to campaign for Clinton he should first have suspended his purported position as a journalist.

Tell that to Maureen Dowd, only with her it was Obama.

On second thought, just fire her... unlike Krugman, she never has anything interesting to say.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:11 PM on October 13, 2008


You know who else was able to successfully end a widespread economic meltdown brought about by the poor regulation of his predecessors through a massive expansion of his European portfolio?

That's right. Hitler.

One might say that $700 billion buys a lot of lebensraum.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:27 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


if he was going to support a candidate just because of the health care plan, he should have supported Kucinich

And if he wanted to support a candidate who's against the war, he should have supported Dennis Kucinich. Or Ralph Nader. Knowwhatimean?

Regardless, congrats to him on the fake Nobel. I like his columns. Heck of a job, Brownie.
posted by mrgrimm at 2:52 PM on October 13, 2008


KokuRyu writes "George W. Bush will win a Nobel Peace Prize five years from now."

I don't think so. I do think that Colin Powell will, however, though I'm not at all sure he deserves it.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:37 PM on October 13, 2008


He'll still get ignored by the Friedman disciples but it should be harder for them to ignore him now.

Yeah, Friedman disciples love to trot out Milton's economics prize whenever people challenge his work's relationship to reality, an Krugman is a favourite target.

Krugman is ahead in converting his medal into a Nobel by a few years.

And mediareport, Krugman's analysis of actions on the current crises are given a little weight by his expertise in predicting and suggesting reolutions to the Asian currency crises. Oddly enough, I've not heard of your decades of expertise in the field.
posted by rodgerd at 3:47 PM on October 13, 2008


Uh, to speak a minute about the size of his graduate class. . .

I don't know about other MeFi's who have gone through graduate school, but 4-6 was about the normal class size for all of my classes except for the one intro class that everyone was required to take (there were about 15 people there). The fact they are not jam packed like undergrad classes is a feature, not a bug.
posted by absalom at 3:53 PM on October 13, 2008


In my heart of hearts, I'm hoping that Obama (should he win) would nominate Krugman for Fed Chairman.

The way it was explained to me was that the Bankers nominate the Fed chairman, while the president ceremoniously appoints him, the Fed being a mostly private enterprise.

Many Obama supporters haven't forgotten how virulent his opposition to their candidate was under the masthead of the Times. It was inappropriate and showed bad judgment

Showing bad judgment how? Picking the popular winner wasn't his task, identifying the best candidate was, and if he wanted government appointments he couldn't destroy Bush as he did, which is appropriate enough for Obama followers, so they can't whine for it both ways and demand objectivity too. Krugman rightly pointed that Obama's healthcare plan was flawed compared to Hillary's because Obama wasn't going to require it, thereby letting future drawers of healthcare go untaxed during the least risky period of life, which is what pays for the system in the long run.
posted by Brian B. at 4:20 PM on October 13, 2008


I loved his paper on galactic trade.

As to GR. "Readers may, however, wish to use general relativity to extend the analysis to trade between planets with large relative motions. This extension is left as an exercise for interested readers because the author does not understand the theory of general relativity, and therefore cannot do it himself."

It's just a shame that scanning artifacts ruin the purity, simplicity and clarity of Figure II.
posted by eriko at 7:11 PM on October 13, 2008


Oh, Christ. I forgot how he sets up the joke on page 10. Jesus, that's brilliant.
posted by eriko at 7:14 PM on October 13, 2008


Yeah, it's sort of ironic that this came at a time when there are no banks left standing where he can open a safe account....

There's a reason 3/6/12 month T-bills have been sitting at a coupon rate of 0. Screw the interest rate, it's practically the only safe place to store large amounts of money.
posted by Talez at 8:41 PM on October 13, 2008




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