10.13.2008

paul krugman wins nobel prize in economics

Paul Krugman, a progressive economist turned accidental activist, has won the 2008 Nobel Prize in economics.

I rarely post news so easily seen in all the mainstream sources, but Krugman is a special case. Way back in the early days of this blog, when I was much more oriented towards US events and politics than Canada's, I was forever quoting Krugman and posting his columns. He's one of the great consistently progressive voices in the US mainstream media.

A quick search of past wmtc posts turned up far too many Krugman mentions to link to them all, but here's a selection.

Kansas and the Tooth Fairy

What's Goin' On

An Academic Question (on the myth of liberal media bias)

The Promiser In Chief

Reign of Error

Tax Farmers, Mercenaries and Viceroys

Wages, Wealth and Politics

Poverty Is Poison

And more: on privatizing social security, on Wal-Mart and New Orleans, on the great revulsion, on on election fraud, on fascist politics in the US, on the European economy.

There's more, but I'll stop now. The links are to old wmtc posts, but you should be able to access or read the columns from there.

Krugman battled with his editor at the Times, Daniel Okrent, who wanted Krugman to soften his anti-Bush language. I remember there was a big sticking point over the word "liar". Can't call the resident of the White House a liar.

Congratulations to Mr Krugman, a great writer and a voice for justice, democracy and sanity.

10 comments:

Greg said...

Being a regular Krugman reader has helped me understand this economic crisis. I knew it was coming because Krugman said it was coming, at least two years ago.

David Heap said...

There is no such thing as a "Nobel Prize in Economics". While it wonderful that Krugman got this prize, the Nobel Cmtee only awards prizes in medicine/physiology, physics, chemistry, literature and peace. The Swedish Central Bank awards a "Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel". Some of Nobel's descendants and others have called for its abolition, arguing that economics is not a science like chemistry or physics. These objections were particularly important when the prize went to monetarist ayatollah (and Pinochet buddy) Milton Friedman in 1976. The prize has a track-record of bias towards Chicago-school economics which disregards human costs (among other things).

So it is great that the selection cmtee has seen fit to widen its perspectives and recognize achievements outside of "mainstream economics" by Krugman. But its still not a "Nobel prize".

L-girl said...

Whatever.

Kim_in_TO said...

A quick search turns up this:

Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2008-1969
(a.k.a. Nobel Prize in Economics)


and

Technically, the prize awarded in Economics is not a Nobel Prize, as it was not specified in Alfred Nobel's will. It is the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, but is selected by the same committee that selects the physics and chemistry prizes.

No surprise then that it is referred to as the "economics Nobel". In Linguistics, it is important to look the history and development of a phrase, but just as important to note how people use it.

David Heap said...

In Linguistics, it is important to look the history and development of a phrase, but just as important to note how people use it.

Of course. And if a particular change in usage is promoted as part of a particular agenda, then linguists can and should take note of that too. In the case of the introduction of this prize and the usurpation of the scientific Nobel prestige, it is not hard to see the legitimization of economic "science" as part of the agenda which eventually presented monetarism (all all that went with it) as scientifically inevitable, which became part of the Reagan-Thatcher "There Is No Alternative" world view (the effects of which we are still suffering).

Somewhat analogously, it is also descriptively true that lots of people use "gay" as a banal insult, just as they (used to) say "gyp" to mean "swindle" (without necessarily referencing Rom people in a racist fashion). This doesn't mean I have to either repeat or accept such usage (though lots of folks will shrug "whatever" here too). And while I am personally delighted to see Krugman honoured in this way, correcting the "pseudo Nobel" misnomer is more than mere pedantry: it is careful usage intended to try to resist the "scientifization" of economics that, more often than not, has been used to advance reactionary political agendas (in a way which the scientific Nobels are not) -- a point on which a number of economists agree.

L-girl said...

I "shrugged whatever" because a man I admire won some prestigious recognition, and to me that's what's important here.

Alfred Nobel's descendants calling for the end of this award is only meaningful if one agrees with their opinions. If you didn't, you wouldn't use it as support for your argument. It's neither here nor there.

In the case of the introduction of this prize and the usurpation of the scientific Nobel prestige,

Usurpation of scientific prestige? I'm sorry, I don't know what that means. And does that apply to the Nobel Peace Prize as well?

David, I must not be understanding you. There's no Reagan-Thatcher agenda going on here, quite the opposite. What do these past offenses have to do with Paul Krugman's recognition?

correcting the "pseudo Nobel" misnomer is more than mere pedantry

I disagree. I see nothing pseudo about the award, despite your insistence.

L-girl said...

Perhaps my point is better expressed this way. Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize, and that was insane. But IMO, that ridiculous and offensive choice didn't diminish Nelson Mandela's receipt of the same prize.

Milton Friedman is abominable, but I don't know what that has to do with Paul Krugman.

M@ said...

Milton Friedman is abominable, but I don't know what that has to do with Paul Krugman.

One good thing is that the right-wing mouthbreathers who have been ignoring or denigrating people like Krugman for years will find it pretty hard to dismiss the award without also dismissing the award for their BFF Millie Friedman.

Not that that will stop them, of course.

David Heap said...

What do these past offenses have to do with Paul Krugman's recognition?
As I thought my comments above should have made clear, nothing. And just in case you missed it the first two times, I remain delighted that Krugman's work has been recognised. Really.

I am less delighted by the continued confusion of the Swedish Bank prize with the scientific Nobels [the Peace Prize and the Literary Prize are quite different creatures, with different juries etc.]. Why? Because on balance the creation of this prize has contributed to a reactionary agenda which holds "economic science" to be more like immutable laws of nature (like physics and chemistry) and therefore outside the realm of human decision making (thus TINA, etc.).

Yes, it is wonderful that Krugman got an award. But an award that has gone NINE times (in about 40 years) to Chicago school monetarists is far from neutral: its very existence has served to feed an ideology (economics as "hard science") which which tends to disempower ordinary people and working-class organizations.

Note that this is not a matter of superficial "balance" or tokenism ("sometimes good people get it, sometimes bad people"). Hopefully people like Krugman can help us get past the scienticization of economics: his writings are a great antidote to monetarism. But that's not my point.

For me, objecting to the "Nobel Prize in Economics" is part of a cogent political perspective: clawing back the right to discuss such issues from "expert" scientists.

To recap: Krugman, I adore. "Nobel Prize in Economics", not so much. And I'll leave it at that.

L-girl said...

Thanks, David. I did see (didn't miss) your cheers for Krugman in your earlier comments. I just don't connect the fact that this economics prize is not a "real" Nobel with the furtherance of pro-capitalism economic theories as you do. But thanks for your continued explanation.