Paul Krugman once described economics writing to be of three kinds: Greek letters, up-and-down and airport.
It was Greek letters that won him the Nobel Prize for economics this year. His story does not end there: He has turned the dry up-and-down variety of economics (usually found in the financial markets’ sections of business newspapers) into something meaningful. His column in The New York Times exemplifies that way of doing economics.
Economics is riddled with qualifications, making public commentary using the subject a difficult task. But in his dual role as a public intellectual and an academic economist, Krugman has made such commentary a seamless affair. For example, in his commentary on the current financial crisis, he has taken positions that have been unpopular with policymakers, but have proved to be true.
In this he has lived up to the ideals of another economist whom he admires much: John Maynard Keynes, who played an activist role during the Great Depression and charted a new, not-so-dismal, course for economics.