Dean Esmay contrasts Milton Friedman and Paul Krugman, both of whom were interviewed on prominent blogs yesterday. I essentially agree with his analysis, the core of which is:
I must admit, I’ve seen more economists criticize Krugman than Friedman, and Friedman has clearly been the more influential economist over the last half-century. That doesn’t mean anything, except I do generally think Friedman’s been vindicated on some very important things, while the jury’s still out on much of what I’ve seen Krugman claim.
Krugman also loses points with me for the bad partisan habit–getting worse all the time over on the left–to paint things he disagrees with as “lies.” It diminishes his credibility significantly.
While Krugman is best known for his NYT columns, he’s a brilliant economist, as evidenced by the fact he’s a recepient of the prestigious Clark Medal. He also has a massive publication list.
I read an earlier version of his The Age of Diminished Expectations as part of a graduate International Political Economy course a decade or so ago and thought it quite interesting at the time. Unfortunately, I fear he has fallen into the trap the snares many public intellectuals: he’s let the desire to be provocative overwhelm his scholarly precision. Indeed, he admits as much himself:
With any luck, you will find many of these pieces extremely annoying. My belief is that if an op-ed or column does not greatly upset a substantial number of people, the author has wasted the space. This is particularly true in economics, where many people have strong views and rather fewer have taken the trouble to think those views through – so that simply insisting on being clear-headed about an issue is usually enough to enrage many if not most of your readers.
Update (1455): I meant to post this earlier but got distracted by actual work. This essay by Krugman on his professional philosophy is quite illuminating.