« The sword and shield of Hollywood | Main | Driving the money-changers »

Among the immortals

By Owen Paine on Wednesday October 15, 2008 08:55 PM

Our fearless pwog terrier, Paul Krugman, has won the Swedish bank's pseudo-Nobel prize for "economic science." This rigorous friend of all things small-fry and Bush-battered, champion of long-gone well-hung safety nets, and well-versed anal-solonic regulators, and... and... oh Christ, blah blah blah.

Why him? Well, before he became the relentless tribune of the naked truth, the master of bright-line, gotcha! political arithmetic, over there on the op-ed pages of the Times of Laputa -- before all that, he was an innovative breakthroughish academic econ-conner; in fact, a paragon in his field. It's a field which for the last 60 years or so has required its heros and saints to boldly go where no academic mind has gone before, and formally, simply, and crisply, model some chunk of obvious everyday marketplace reality that has stared us all in the face since Columbus cheated Chief Nugawana at cards, and yet, until the publication of this particular paper, has evaded algebraic capture. Yes, trap it in Greek letters and render it in the toonish galaxy-far-far-away terms that please the rarefied minds of ivydom's Dismalians.

In Paul's case, he took an earlier breakthrough model by Dixit Stiglitz and frigged it around some, and used it, after suitable relabeling, to prove something -- well -- obvious: Toyota and General Motors might rationally choose to sell and produce in each others' home markets -- and profit maximally.

Sound impressive? No? Well, it got him overnight to the top tier of young Turks in trade theory.

But wait! There's more! Not satisfied with his initial earthshaking achievement, about a decade later, Paul built a model of optimal human civilization -- the genesis of urban habitat, those nodes of folks that pimple the market plain, swelling to the point where the economies of agglomeration just nicely balance the costs of transportation. As a lover of such toy train-set worlds, I could go on and on -- but I won't.

Street value of this body of work that won him the Swedish bankers' prize? Somewhere between the value of six mice and one large pumpkin, down at the local cab stand.

Comments (5)




"You may think all this is obvious, and it is – now. But it was totally not obvious before 1980 or so – except for some prescient quotes from Paul Samuelson, you really can’t find anyone describing trade this way until after the theory had been laid out in mathematical models. The plain English version came later"
woids of
paul hizz seff

needless to add
he means plain english among
the ivy towered monks
of modeled commerce

poor rude empirick dorks
have noticed "some of this nuance "
and commented on it in places
now and again
for 300 years ...at least


more st pauly boy

"You may ask, where’s the policy implication of all this? Actually, the policy morals are fairly subtle .."

".. for example new trade theory does suggest a possible role for government interventions, but also suggests bigger gains from trade liberalization "

hey borders ain't part of the natural landscape
but neither are currency zones

i could gabble on here

but vacuity is
--- in the last analysis --
tautology tautology

" Mainly my work in trade and geography was about understanding the world, not driving a political agenda."

some one said ..
the point is to change it comrade


Well said. I'm also puzzled by the way economists manage to redefine everything that people do as externalities (all those trifling details like self esteem, respect, rage, jealousy, desire for power/love/influence/what have you) and then turn those into greek letters too, until a suitable formula can be adduced.

Load of rubbish really.

Post a comment

Note also that comments with three or more links may be held for "moderation" -- a strange term to apply to the ghost in this blog's machine. Seems to be a hard-coded limitation of the blog software, unfortunately.


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on Wednesday October 15, 2008 08:55 PM.

The previous post in this blog was The sword and shield of Hollywood.

The next post in this blog is Driving the money-changers.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License

This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.31