MiB: Making Wonkery Accessible to the Public

How do you make esoteric economic wonkery accessible to the public?

That was the challenge facing Paul Krugman, one of the world’s most cited economists in academic papers and research. He and his wife are also the authors of the second bestselling college economics textbook in the United States.

Krugman describes how he began his career completely apolitically — he was called “ideologically colorblind” — by Newsweek — and he worked as a staffer in the Reagan White House. In the 1990s, he started writing a popular economics column for Slate, and then in 2000 moved to the New York Times. It was only during the George W. Bush administration he became much more political oriented and increasingly partisan.

In 2008, Krugman won the Nobel’s Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.”  He has written or edited more than 20 books and 200 scholarly articles, and his most recent book is Arguing with Zombies: Economics, Politics, and the Fight for a Better Future.

We discuss how his real life persona is so very different from what people imagine him to be like based on his written columns. He is a “pussycat,” very different from that public appearance.

According to Krugman, today’s Right-Wing economists and policy makers are missing “reasonable conservatives” like Harvard’s Martin Feldstein – people who make coherent arguments based on facts and provable theory. He observes that in the 1980s, there were policy arguments about genuine issues. He notes there is less room for rationality on the right. He argues that “Zombie Ideas” (along with Donald Trump) has taken over the GOP, making it nearly impossible for bi-partisan legislation to move forward.

His favorite books can be seen here; A transcript of our conversation is available here.

You can stream and download our full conversation, including the podcast extras, on Apple iTunesOvercastSpotifyGoogleBloomberg, and Stitcher. All of our earlier podcasts on your favorite pod hosts can be found here.

Next week, with Brian Deese, Global Head of Sustainable Investing for Blackrock.



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