Paul Krugman Wins Nobel Prize

New York Times columnist (and Princeton economist) Paul Krugman has won the Nobel Prize for Economics.

U.S. economist Paul Krugman speaks during a press conference in Stockholm in this September 13, 1999 file picture. Krugman won the 2008 Nobel prize for economics for bringing together analysis of trade patterns and where economic activity takes place, the prize committee said on October 13, 2008. Picture taken in September 13, 1999. REUTERS/Scanpix/Fredrik Sandberg

U.S. economist Paul Krugman speaks during a press conference in Stockholm in this September 13, 1999 file picture. Krugman won the 2008 Nobel prize for economics for bringing together analysis of trade patterns and where economic activity takes place, the prize committee said on October 13, 2008. Picture taken in September 13, 1999. REUTERS/Scanpix/Fredrik Sandberg

Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman won the Nobel economics prize on Monday for his analysis of how economies of scale can affect trade patterns and the location of economic activity. Krugman was the lone of winner of the 10 million kronor ($1.4 million) award and the latest in a string of American researchers to be honored.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences praised Krugman for formulating a new theory to answer questions about free trade. “What are the effects of free trade and globalization? What are the driving forces behind worldwide urbanization? Paul Krugman has formulated a new theory to answer these questions,” the academy said in its citation. “He has thereby integrated the previously disparate research fields of international trade and economic geography,” it said.

[…]

Commenting on the global economic meltdown, he told a news conference in Stockholm by telephone from the United States that some of his research was linked to currency crises and related issues. “This is terrifying,” he said, comparing it to the financial crisis that gripped Asia in the 1990s.

He said winning the Nobel award won’t change his approach to research and writing. “The prize will enhance visibility,” he said, “but I hope it does not lead me into going to a lot of purely celebratory events, aside from the Nobel presentation itself.”

The citation said Krugman’s approach is based on the premise that many goods and services can be produced at less cost in long series, a concept known as economies of scale. His research showed the effects of that on trade patterns and on the location of economic activity.

While this may shock critics of his column, which is frequently less than brilliant, Krugman is held in enormously high esteem in the academy. He was the winner of the 1991 John Bates Clark Model, awarded to “that American economist under the age of forty who is adjudged to have made a significant contribution to economic thought and knowledge,” frequently a pre-sager of a Nobel.

Tyler Cowen has an excellent roundup of links and commentary of Krugman’s work. His conclusion:

This was definitely a “real world” pick and a nod in the direction of economists who are engaged in policy analysis and writing for the broader public. Krugman is a solo winner and solo winners are becoming increasingly rare. That is the real statement here, namely that Krugman deserves his own prize, all to himself. This could easily have been a joint prize, given to other trade figures as well, but in handing it out solo I believe the committee is a) stressing Krugman’s work in economic geography, and b) stressing the importance of relevance for economics.

A 2006 feature in Finance & Develpment predicted “Krugman may well become the first person outside the field of literature to win both the Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, the acme of achievement in academics and journalism.” He’s halfway there now. (He has won the so-called “European Pulitzer,” the Prince of Asturias award.)

Update (Steve Verdon): I haven’t looked at the reactions to Krugman’s winning the Nobel, but I don’t think it is all that surprising. Krugman’s name has probably been on the list for at least the last 5 years if not longer. His work was indeed groundbreaking. I’m just hoping that with the upcoming the election, if Obama wins, some sembalance of sanity will return to Prof. Krugman’s writing. Prior to the Bush Presidency Krugman’s writings in Slate and elsewhere were actually quite good and often pointed out some of the more dopey positions some on the Left Held.

FILED UNDER: Economics and Business, Education, Media
James Joyner
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James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. John Burgess says:

    The world will now be in need of a new word.

    If a google is 10 to the power of one hundred, and a googleplex is 10 to the power of a google, then we may find the word ‘kroogle’ to be an apt measure of the level of prissy insufferability that will soon be on display on the pages of the NYT. Unless we need ‘kroogleplex’, of course…

  2. G.A.Phillips says:

    What no Oscar?

  3. Houston says:

    I’m no economist, but it’s hard for me to understand how anyone can take this guy seriously. His critiques of the economy over the past 8 years have been comical. He has been wrong on so many levels. It’s been obvious for years that his positions on US economic policy have been driven by political ideology (and personal emotion) rather than serious analysis.

    If there was any doubt that the Nobels were driven by ideology as well, this decision should maket that clear for all to see.

  4. Eric says:

    I’m no economist…

    I suppose if you’re no economist, then you’re probably in no position to seriously judge Krugman’s economic work in the first place. But, please, feel free to at least try to leave a more nuanced critique of his work with which you disagree instead of the usual conservative fallback of “liberal conspiracy.”

    It’s been obvious for years that his positions on US economic policy have been driven by political ideology (and personal emotion) rather than serious analysis.

    If there was any doubt that the Nobels were driven by ideology as well, this decision should maket that clear for all to see.

    No, the only thing that’s been obvious for years is the rightwing nuthouse’s fondness for conspiracy theories to explain away everything that they disagree with.

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  5. Houston says:

    Eric, do you honestly believe that Krugman’s role with the NYT for the past eight years has not been driven by political ideology?

    Like I said, I’m no economist – I think you got that part – and I never claimed to “seriously judge Krugman’s economic work,” but let’s face it – he’s in league with Maureen Dowd as a political commentator.

    So with such an obvious track record in political and economic commentary driven by BDS, I repeat my original statement that I don’t see how anyone can take the guy seriously.

    Nor I’m afraid does anyone take the Nobels seriously anymore.

  6. Anon says:

    Houston, actually, it is acceptable for policy to be driven by ideology and emotion. Policy is a choice.

  7. Anon says:

    Houston, you admit that you can’t seriously judge his economic work. Yet you think that he doesn’t deserve the Nobel. And you think his political commentary sucks.

    But the Nobel is not about political commentary. It is about his economic work. There are a number of people I disagree with politically, but who I think are outstanding in their respective areas. I enjoy Orson Scott Card’s work. I think Mark Helprin (that’s “Helprin”, not Halperin) is one of the greatest writers in the modern era. William F. Buckley was also surely a great intellectual.

    As to whether he actually deserves the Nobel, I have no idea. Likewise, I have no idea whether or not Friedman deserved his Nobel.

    Also, I’m not claiming that there are not politics in the Nobels. I have no idea. I’m only claiming that it is perfectly possible for someone to deserve the Nobel, even if their political commentary sucks.

  8. just me says:

    I confess I haven’t taken them seriously since they gave the peace prize to Arafat and Carter (although the Carter half didn’t bother me as much as the Arafat half).

    Yes I know this is for economics not peace, but ever since that one was awarded I have seen pretty much all of them as politically motivated.

  9. […] rightfully, received this prize for his other, economist, face, not for his columns. He is truly an expert on the economy . That does not mean one always has to agree with his columns, but it also does not mean that his […]

  10. William d'Inger says:

    The Nobel prizes for peace, economics, etc. are not for peace, economics, etc. That’s just a smokescreen. The Nobel prizes are actually awarded for ideological political correctness with liberal socialist thought. All other considerations are secondary and at most are used only to split the difference between two leftists.

    Of course, leftists can and sometimes do make major advances in science and the world order. It’s a shame that the awards for their contributions are tainted by political perceptions.

  11. Brett says:

    The Nobel prizes for peace, economics, etc. are not for peace, economics, etc. That’s just a smokescreen. The Nobel prizes are actually awarded for ideological political correctness with liberal socialist thought. All other considerations are secondary and at most are used only to split the difference between two leftists.

    Which is why Milton Friedman, certainly no leftist, won the Nobel Prize in Economics, right? Hey, wait . . .

    Don’t be an idiot. Aside from the Peace Prize (which is definitely politically motivated, although considering it is about political achievements, it’s hard to see how it wouldn’t be), the actual prizes in the areas of the sciences and economics are generally given to those who represent the top in their respective fields and who make major contributions to the field. Friedman did exactly that, with Monetarism.

  12. dutchmarbel says:

    I liked Thoreau’s post best:

    I know nothing about Paul Krugman’s economic research. I know that he’s a professor of economics at a good school, but there are many people like that and not all of them are Nobel candidates. Because I know nothing about his economic scholarship, I shall do like everybody else on the internet and judge his worthiness for the prize based on whether or not he agrees with me on politics.

    This is how we resolve all scholarly disputes, you know.