Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Can You Count on Krugman?

I've long been a fan of Princeton economist and NY Times columnist Paul Krugman.  I've been reading his international economics textbook, which inspired me to go back to his earlier work I loved - Peddling Prosperity, Pop Internationalism and the Slate columns especially. 

I had a conversation with Michael Fuchs about him last week,  so I went to check out some of his recent writing.  Four years ago, I used to read his NYT columns religiously, but at some point they fell off my radar screen when the ratio of analytical signal to partisan noise got too high, sometime around the end of 2000. 

One of the things that caught my eye was his piece attacking the credentials of Brian Arthur as the pioneer of studying increasing returns in economics and the follow-up debate.  I read a fair bit of Arthur's work as an undergrad.  The Belfast native is probably among Ireland's few internationally-prominent economists, along with John Sutton and Kevin O'Rourke.  Both these factors reinforce the strong defence that Ken Arrow and others mount to what seems to be an extremely petty personal attack by Krugman.  

Today's column, plugging the new remake of The Manchurian Candidatewas probably the poorest thing I've ever seen him publish.  It doesn't rise above the Michael Moore level in its reasoning, or above any bar room conversation.