Krugman wins Economics Nobel

by John Q on October 13, 2008

Paul Krugman has been awarded the 2008 Nobel prize for economics[1]. The rules of the prize, honoured more in the breach than in the observance in economics, say that it is supposed to be given for a specific discovery, and Krugman is cited for his groundbreaking work in the economics of location done from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.

The reality, though, is that economics prizes are awarded for careers. Krugman’s early work put him on the list of likely Nobelists, but his career took an unusual turn around the time of the 2000 election campaign. While he has still been active in academic research, Krugman’s career for the last eight years or more has been dominated by his struggle (initially a very lonely one) against the lies of the Bush Administration, its supporters and enablers. Undoubtedly, the award of the prize in this of all years, reflects an appreciation of this work on behalf of truth in economics and politics more generally.[2]

We at CT have a more parochial reason for cheering this outcome. Paul has generously agreed to take a part in a CT seminar on the work of Charles Stross, which should be published in the next month or so. Without giving too much away, there are some Nobel-related insights in his contribution.

fn1. Strictly speaking, the Bank of Sweden prize in Economic Sciences in honour of Alfred Nobel, or something like that.
fn2. Doubtless, Republicans will complain about being implicitly identified, yet again, as enemies of science and of truth. But they’ve made their bed and must lie in it (in both senses of the word).



Daniel 10.13.08 at 12:48 pm

Oh great; I’ve written the exact same post as John, even down to the footnote.


jacob 10.13.08 at 12:51 pm

Has there been some change in the prize committee? I remember when it seemed to tilt very hard to the right: it seemed like they gave the prize to everyone at Chicago at one point or another. But in recent years they’ve given it to Stiglitz, to Akerlof (in the same year), and now to Krugman. I’m by no means an expert–I just looked at the Wikipedia list of winners and recognized very few of the names–so I wonder if there’s a shift that economists recognize, too.


Ewan 10.13.08 at 12:57 pm

Krugman and Stross, combined? Whom should I bribe, and how, to be involved in this? :)


LizardBreath 10.13.08 at 1:08 pm

Sorry, did the post say that Paul Krugman will be posting at CT in a seminar on Charles Stross the SF writer? That sounds absolutely fascinating, but certainly unexpected. How’d that happen?


Kieran 10.13.08 at 1:12 pm

Oh great; I’ve written the exact same post as John, even down to the footnote.

Always nice to see evidence of the field’s underlying ideological core commitments ;)


Eszter Hargittai 10.13.08 at 1:17 pm

Oh great; I’ve written the exact same post as John, even down to the footnote.

Actually, I think it’s amusing how well your different styles come across despite the two posts being rather similar.


Eszter Hargittai 10.13.08 at 1:39 pm

By the way, I thought the note over on the Freakonomics blog about haircuts (the week before, predicting who thinks they will win the prize) was funny.


Bill Gardner 10.13.08 at 1:58 pm

Paul Krugman on Charles Stross?!? Christ, they need to start giving Pulitzers for blogs.


Henry 10.13.08 at 2:02 pm

Paul K. is a big fan of Stross’s Merchant Princes series in particular (and his work in general).


novakant 10.13.08 at 2:22 pm

Could someone update his Wikipedia entry now, please? I think it’s a total disgrace and represents everything I loathe about the site: lots of ad hom quotations, “controversies” and general political blahablah – and the small amount of information on his actual work is more an exercise in quickly ticking off some boxes, than an attempt to present a layman (such as myself) with actually useful information about what Krugman has written.


David W. 10.13.08 at 3:26 pm

One of Krugman’s seminal papers:

The Theory of Interstellar Trade


chris y 10.13.08 at 4:57 pm

David W: That paper is a wonder. Do you think the Nobel committee was familiar with this passage from it:

“This paper, then, is a serious analysis of a ridiculous subject, which is of course the opposite of what is usual in economics.”


Walt 10.13.08 at 5:03 pm

Jacob: Kydland and Prescott, who are more Chicago School than the Chicago School won it in 2004. Vernon Smith won it in 2002 for his laboratory experiments showing that the free market is awesome.


Jon H 10.13.08 at 5:09 pm

I’m sure the Republicans will just chalk this up as being similar to Gore’s Nobel.


John Emerson 10.13.08 at 5:46 pm

The Krugman Wiki seems to have been written by Luskin or a friend of his.


geo 10.13.08 at 7:28 pm

Dear John,

May I point out that “more honoured in the breach than in the observance” (Hamlet, Act I, scene 4) does not properly mean “more often ignored than observed” but rather “deserving to be ignored, not observed.”


John Quiggin 10.13.08 at 7:42 pm

Geo, I sort-of knew this, but usage determines meaning, and it works either way.


Simon W 10.14.08 at 12:11 am

I’m looking forward to hearing what the CT lot, as well as his Noble Prizeness, have to say on Stross. Will it be confined to a particular book/series, or ranging far and wide. I’m asking because it might be nice to re-read the book(s) before the seminar starts.


John Quiggin 10.14.08 at 12:51 am

It will range far and wide

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