The Corner

In Defense of Krugman

I wish I could say that I got better email than this, but the few (seemingly) sane Krugman fans who wrote me didn’t do so at any length. From a “reader”:

Jonah – You posted two email messages that you received from two so-called “professional economists” who are criticizing Paul Krugman’s receipt of the Nobel Prize. My personal assessment of their e-mails in four words: They sound like Haters.

Maybe a President Obama will tap Mr. Krugman for Secretary of the Treasury under his potential administration, and, then, your so-called “professional economists” can “hate” even more! Please tell those folks to work harder next time and quit the right-wing, non-reality based spin, and perhaps they’ll get the Prize too (or come close)!!!

Even though you’re a right-wing nut, you probably should have stuck to your intial instict of congratulations to Mr. Krugman and your statement regarding the e-mails you received from “A lot of readers”:

“Krugman really is a very serious and respected economist…people have been talking about him getting a Nobel for years.”

But since YOU ARE A HACK, what more could one expect from those like you who apparently live in an alternate reality & universe!

May The Force not be with you (since you NRO bloggers are obviously space aliens), but let’s hope it’s nearby to drive you (and your ilk) to the closest psyche ward(s) on November 5, 2008! I’m not gloating, just callin’ it like I see it. You betcha!!!

Me: I think this email speaks for itself. But I’d be happy to post a couple grown-up emails from readers who want to defend the total Krugman package. I haven’t gotten any yet.

As for the integrity of the economists who did write in, all I can ask is that readers take my word for it that they are serious, mainstream, professionals that would be welcome at a meeting of academic or professional economists.

Update: Jonathan Cohn offers a defense of the Total Krugman Package (TKP henceforth), but it boils down to “I’ve always found his columns persuasive so his academic work must be right too.”

Update II: From a reader:


You shouldn’t be surprised that economic experts aren’t falling all over themselves to defend Krugman to you personally. People with the expertise to judge Krugman’s work have their own outlets to express their thoughts. I don’t see why you think your Inbox should be one of them.

But, if your curiosity about a Krugman defense persists, you might start here.

Me: For the record, I get all sorts of thoughtful liberal email, the pissiness (sp?) of this email notwithstanding. I should also add, that I don’t see anything in the Time blog post this guy sends me that seriously contradicts anything I’ve posted.

Update III: From a reader:

Jonah, I’m a professional economist, so let me take a stab at this. Prior to the work of Krugman (and Helpman I should add), the standard view of international trade among economists was that flows of goods across borders reflected differences in factor endowments. Countries with lots of land would export agricultural goods, and so on. But most trade involves similar goods: for instance Japan sells cars to Germany while Germany also sells cars to Japan. This can’t be explained by factor endowments. Krugman developed a model of trade with increasing returns and differentiated products that could account for this pattern of trade. Not only did this help account for existing trade flows, it raised serious questions about whether or not free trade was an optimal policy when one’s trading partners were not themselves engaged in free trade. This is just part of the citation for the Nobel (his work on the location of economic activity has been equally influential).

Hope this helps,

[Name withheld]

Me: Okey Dokey. Again, this doesn’t contradict anything I wrote or posted.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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