There are very few people we admire, and even fewer we admire in more than one capacity, in fact, there are only two of these, and the other one has already gotten some attention on this website. Paul Krugman won the Nobel prize in economics. It was about time.
He was, and still is, a brilliant economist with a razor sharp mind, for sure you will be able to read stuff about that. He had two other careers, both of which he excelled, and perhaps even superseded the one that won him a Nobel.
First, starting with The Age of Diminished Expectations in 1990, he wrote many economics books for the general public. These remain true gems, his capacity to make the complex simple is basically unmatched. The only guy who comes close in this respect is a Belgian professor Paul de Grauwe.
Krugman is probably most known for his career as a NYT columnist, and here he has been at his most devastating best. Republicans won’t like him (sorry people, sometimes you just have to admit that the other side has a brilliant guy batting for them) because he was on the president’s case right from the start.
He has a couple of advantages which enables to perform these twice weekly columns with such devastating accuracy:
- His unmatched background in economics (now Nobel laureate)
- His capacity for making the complex simple
- His ability to use his knowledge to remain independent.
The latter might not sound too convincing to Republicans, we can sort of sympathize with that, but if Krugman sees something on his side which his economic background tells him doesn’t make sense, he won’t hesitate to put that point forward, in his casual, matter-of-fact way (the temporary fuel subsidies Hillary was going to put forward in the summer comes to mind).
While most political commentators need to be on their best behaviour to maintain the contacts on which they depend, and where others have to maintain a relatively balance view (“Democrats said.., Republicans said..”), Krugman just uses his background knowledge to tell as he sees it.
That inquiring independent mind let him to uncover the true reasons of the Californian energy crisis, for instance.
And here is another sharp quote, from 2005:
- “These days Americans make a living by selling each other houses, paid for with money borrowed from China,” he wrote in a column on Aug. 29, 2005. “One way or other, the economy will eventually eliminate both imbalances.” [Bloomberg]
How right he was.
Turns out he used the same headline as us about Gordon Brown saving the world financial system (at least in the tagline, wow. It’s nice for a change to beat a Nobel to it, on the day when he actually is rewarded that Nobel prize..
So, congratulations Mr. Krugman.