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NY Times gig is a sideline for Nobel-winning Paul Krugman

By A. James Memmott

October 14, 2008 at 9:21am

Good heavens, Paul R. Krugman has a day job.

Krugman, a controversial columnist for The New York Times, is this year’s winner of the Nobel prize in economics.

The prize, officially known as the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, recognizes Krugman’s academic career rather than his column writing for the Times.

Though perhaps surprising to those readers who only know Krugman as a Bush-bashing opinionator for the Times, the Nobel was expected by Krugman’s fellow economists.

“We all knew Paul was going to win,” Gene M. Grossman of the Princeton economics department told The Daily Princetonian on Monday after the prize was announced. “We all knew it was a question of when, not if.”

In the late seventies, Krugman challenged the prevailing economic theory that countries export items that they are good at making and import items they don’t make.

In reality, Krugman noted, trade seemed to operate differently, with countries both exporting and importing goods that are generally the same but that have specific differences.

Beginning with these insights, Krugman went on to study why companies and people move from one area to another.

A Ph.D. graduate of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Krugman, 55, is a professor of economics and international affairs at Princeton University, having taught there since 2000.

Ben Bernanke, who was then head of Princeton’s economics department, recruited Krugman to teach there. Now the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Bernanke had been a graduate student with Krugman at MIT.

Krugman has also taught at Yale University, his undergraduate alma mater, Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley, the London School of Economics and MIT.

From 1982 to 1983, Krugman left academe to serve on the President’s Council of Economic Advisers in the Reagan administration.

He has also advised the Federal Reserve of New York, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, and he’s currently a member of the Group of Thirty, the prestigious international economic organization led by Paul A. Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

A prodigious scholar, Krugman began writing on economics for the general reader in Slate and in Fortune magazine.

He started writing his column for the Times in 1999. In it, he writes about economics often, but he just as often turns to politics. Fans praise his take-no-prisoners style; critics find him strident and one-sided.

Krugman also produces a blog for the paper’s website.

Today’s entry began with Krugman writing, “I’m already sick of talking about me.” He then alluded to Monday’s rebound in the stock market before turning to his worries about that the credit markets. “It’s way too soon to start counting chickens,” he concluded.

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