September 08, 2002
Six Degrees of Paul Krugman

Peter Passell writes about his twelve favorite economics websites. From the Milken Review that he edits:


paul krugman | www.wws.princeton.edu/~pkrugman/ | Unofficial site:www.pkarchive.org/

Everyone, it seems, either loves Paul Krugman, or loves to hate him. One reason is that he gets amazing exposure through his Op-Ed column in The New York Times. Another is that he writes better than any economist since Keynes. Yet a third is that he doesn’t suffer fools (or knaves) easily – which often makes his opinion pieces a gas to read. His own Web site contains a sampling of his work, including some striking analytic pieces. But his unofficial site, run by Krugman groupies, is a whole lot more complete, and a whole lot more fun. It includes a lot of material about Krugman as well as stuff by him.


xavier sala-i-martin | www.columbia.edu/~xs23/home.html

Some economists are smart. A few are funny. A very few, including Columbia University’s Xavier Sala-i-Martin are smart and funny. Who else, after all, would grace his home page with a picture of Miss Piggy in her pigs-in-space getup, and a pair of floating eyeballs that follow your cursor around the site? Check out the picture of his favorite supermodel. Or his link to a live webcam shot of downtown Barcelona (Sala-i-Martin is a Catalan). Then use the site to browse macroeconomist Sala-i-Martin’s distinguished and extensive research.


richard freeman | www.nber.org/~freeman/

I’ll confess there is nothing special about Richard Freeman’s Web site – it’s just a well organized site containing a fine sampling of this Harvard University labor economist’s research. But I was happy to have the excuse to advertise Freeman’s work. He’s an interesting scholar and an able defender of left-center views in a world that has drifted to the right.


rudi dornbusch | web.mit.edu/rudi/www/ | Alas, Rudi died at the end of July.

Rudi Dornbusch has been teaching macroeconomics and international finance at MIT since Gerry Ford was in the White House. But his views on public policy are as fresh – and as edgy – as ever. Don’t mistake his skepticism for conservatism just because he has a PhD from the University of Chicago; he really belongs to the take-no-prisoners school of economics. The site includes a lot of his more accessible opinion pieces, plus some excellent reading lists prepared for his graduate courses.


robert shiller | aida.econ.yale.edu/~shiller/

Robert Shiller of Yale University caught the zeitgeist with Irrational Exuberance (Princeton University Press), his book about the psychological underpinnings of the stock market. A sample chapter is on his Web site, along with chapters from his other books and pretty much everything technical he’s written in the last decade. I like his statistics section, which provides a ton of data used in testing hypotheses about what drives the markets.


bert ely | www.ely-co.com/default.asp

Bert Ely runs his own private consulting firm specializing in financial policy and banking. Ely’s a very public character, though, who’s bursting with interesting ideas about everything from inflation to bank deposit insurance to mortgage credit risk. And just about everything he’s ever written is available on his well-organized Web site.


joel slemrod | taxpolicyresearch.umich.edu/

Joel Slemrod, an expert’s expert on the economics of taxation, directs the University of Michigan Business School’s Offfce of Tax Policy Research. Strictly speaking, this Web site is the Office’s, not Slemrod’s. But this marvelous source of info on tax policy is obviously Slemrod’s baby. Use it to keep up with current events in tax policy, or mine the ambitious World Tax Database that includes numbers on localities ranging from Alabama to Zimbabwe.


ray fair | fairmodel.econ.yale.edu/

Macroeconomic forecasting has long been out of fashion in academia. Most of the macro computer models used today are maintained by private forecasting businesses and government agencies. Ray Fair of Yale University is the exception – a rigorous academic who takes forecasting seriously.What’s more, he’s a natural born teacher, maintaining a unique Web site that allows visitors to plug their own assumptions into his sophisticated computer models of the U.S. economy and the global economy, and grind out do-it-yourself forecasts. The process takes some knowledge of economics and a bit of hard work to learn. But it’s just a fab resource for those who want to understand what lies beneath the numbers.


stephen roach | www.morganstanley.com/about/gef/team.html#ssr

Wall Street economists don’t get no respect. And understandably so: they are all too often shills for whatever lines their employers are peddling. But there are exceptions, and Stephen Roach, the chief economist at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, is a big one. He heads a solid analytical team, which puts out a daily commentary on economic policy and events called the “Global Economic Forum.” It’s an excellent site for those interested in macroeconomics – one that bridges the gap between academic and business economists.


brad delong | www.j-bradford-delong.net/

You may remember Brad DeLong as a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration, or as Larry Summers’s sometime alter ego. Since 1997, he has been on the faculty at the University of California (Berkeley), where he struts his stuff both as a first-rate scholar with eclectic interests and as an evangelist for post-liberal economic policy. His Web site is just chock-full of ideas, including most of his recent writing, sample chapters from his macroeconomics textbook, revealing graphs,weird links, and even semi-weekly musings in his personal journal.


nouriel roubini| www.stern.nyu.edu/globalmacro/

Roubini,who teaches at New York University’s Stern School of Business,may not qualify as a famous economist. But he certainly knows his way around policy circles, having spent time at the IMF, World Bank, U.S. Treasury and the White House. He maintains a wonderful Web site that serves as a clearinghouse for news, data and analysis of international financial issues. Indeed, it would make a nice home page/portal for those who work in international economics. The neatest part: an indepth bibliography on the Asian financial crisis.


Peter Passell: Six Degrees of Paul Krugman

Posted by DeLong at September 08, 2002 11:01 AM | Trackback

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Comments

why is the copy about the Brad DeLong site in bold font? ;-)

good list

Posted by: David on September 8, 2002 02:22 PM

why is the copy about the Brad DeLong site in bold font? ;-)

good list

Posted by: David on September 8, 2002 02:22 PM

PK has transformed himself into just another shrill voice on the pages of the NYT.

Ken Waight at lyinginponds.com has done everyone interested in public affairs a tremendous service by rankning columnists according to their partisan bias. PK leaves all others in the dust making, George Will look like a moderate in comparison.

http://www.lyinginponds.com/archive.200207.html#20020712

"Mr. Krugman is nearly alone among the 37 pundits in that not even one of his 52 columns is contrary to his prevailing political orientation."

I remember taking Macro 101 and making, what I thought, was a rather clever partisan point during class. My professor, who I believed to share my political leanings although he never made it obvious, spent the next 10 minutes of his lecture reproaching me in front of the entire class. His point was that for economics to remain credible as a science it's practicioners must strive to eliminate personal bias in their work. One needs only to look at most universitie's sociology departments to see what an absurd joke a social science can become when its experts do nothing but grind idiological axes.

I have never forgotten that tounge lashing, and believe it was the most important lesson I learned in that class. I certainly have values and beliefs, however I put enourmous effort towards approaching any issue with an open mind.

It is a shame that Krugman does not spend his inches teaching his readers to think like an economist, and instead takes does nothing but take predictable partisan shots.

Posted by: Brian on September 8, 2002 03:54 PM

I believe the point made about how important it is that economics remain an analytic endeavor that proceeds from an assessment of the world rather than from an assessment of the political needs of the moment is PRECISELY the flaw that Krugman has identified in Bush administration policy-making and policy justification. It should not be surprising that Krugman's frequent sinew-by-sinew dissections of these flaws are dismissed as "partisan shots" by the corpse laid out for the dissection. (block that metaphor!)

Posted by: David on September 8, 2002 04:07 PM

Brian,

The belief than an economist should switch ideological stance on different issue to be perceived as impartial is a political belief in and of itself. There nothing such as an apolitical economist. And if there is, it reflects a set of political beliefs in and of its own. It smells strongly to me like a brand of liberterianism.

Rather than look for impartiality, I myself care more about intellectual honesty and integrity:

For example, I used to read the Economist magazine. I disaggree with many of their political positions (e.g. they endorsed W as presidential candidate...) but they make them christal clear and they don't distort the facts. When I read the Economist, I can most often make up my own mind about the issue at stake. I don't think one can say the same about the WSJ though...

I too like intellectual and political diversity. But I don't expect the latter from each single analyst I read. Instead I try to read the opinion of different experts to get an idea about the breath of arguments and positions one can take about a given subject.

But I surely understand your point, Brian, in fact I used to think like this too. I must have lost my economic virginity since then... :^)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on September 8, 2002 07:07 PM

As a philosopher I can not imagine writing from a purely objective stance. How can we write as though we had no experience to draw on, merely a scene to describe? Krugman and DeLong write with precision, clarity, and verve. What more could I wish for? Imagine, thinking I am learning economics.... Thanks.

Posted by: on September 9, 2002 09:26 AM

Fait enough. The problem is that many economists are in denial of the phylosophical nature (and social/political implications) of their work...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on September 9, 2002 12:18 PM

P.S. Fait enough = Fair enough, obviously...

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on September 9, 2002 12:19 PM

Jean-Philippe

Fine point. There can be a pretense that work in the social sciences [social studies] has the same social remove as theoretical math. Not so.

As a landscape artist knows, focus can not be all inclusive or solely objective. Ultimately many paintings of a particular landscape, bring us closer to what is sensed and interpreted.

Fine point.

Posted by: on September 9, 2002 02:18 PM

I'm so proud:)

Posted by: Bobby on September 9, 2002 02:40 PM

Let's take a short break from words with an illustration of our discussion by MIGIO entitled conjonctions matricielles... :)

Posted by: Jean-Philippe Stijns on September 9, 2002 04:26 PM

Inspired by Brian's post, I checked lyinginpond's site to see what they do.

I don't buy the methodology. Since Krugman's main focus is on economic policy, if the Bush Administration tends to produce bad policy then Krugman will count as partisan. Their comment:
"When two people agree on everything, it's pretty certain that only one is doing the thinking. Assuming that it's unlikely that a partisan columnist is actually formulating the party platform, then the partisan columnist's opinions must therefore derive from allegiance to the favored party or hostility to the other party rather than from independent thought." misses the point. Krugman is expressing disagreement. This counts as pro-Democrat only because the way lyinginponds counts is to assume that -R = +D.

Concluding that statements critical of Republicans by Krugman show him to be partisan instead conlcuding that the Bush Administration is prone to bad policy is circular without substantive analysis of the issues Krugman treats.

In the end, the only important question is not whether Krugman is partisan, but whether he is right. For what it's worth, I think he generally is.

Posted by: Jonathan Goldberg on September 10, 2002 03:30 PM

Actually IIRC Krugman did say that he thought the administration was more correct in their prior stand on free trade liberalization (they were for it) than the Democrats. I don't think Paul has twisted his arguments to make partisan points - it's just that, honestly, the Bush administration really has done almost nothing correctly in terms of economic policy. They are just bad at it and he keeps calling them on it.

It's not as if it would be intellectually honest of him to agree with them, when they are wrong, just to create an appearance of impartiality.

Posted by: Ian Welsh on September 12, 2002 12:24 AM
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