Tuesday, October 14, 2008 0 comments ++[ CLICK TO COMMENT ]++

Congratulations to Paul Krugman

Congratulations to Paul Krugman for winning the Nobel prize in economics. Strictly speaking, there isn't a Nobel prize in economices but the The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel is considered to be the unofficial Nobel prize in this field. I'm not an economist and don't really understand or agree with much of it but here is what he is being cited for:


The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2008 to Paul Krugman (Princeton University, NJ, USA) for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.

Patterns of trade and location have always been key issues in the economic debate. What are the effects of free trade and globalization? What are the driving forces behind worldwide urbanization? Paul Krugman has formulated a new theory to answer these questions. He has thereby integrated the previously disparate research fields of international trade and economic geography.

Krugman's approach is based on the premise that many goods and services can be produced more cheaply in long series, a concept generally known as economies of scale. Meanwhile, consumers demand a varied supply of goods. As a result, small-scale production for a local market is replaced by large-scale production for the world market, where firms with similar products compete with one another.

Traditional trade theory assumes that countries are different and explains why some countries export agricultural products whereas others export industrial goods. The new theory clarifies why worldwide trade is in fact dominated by countries which not only have similar conditions, but also trade in similar products – for instance, a country such as Sweden that both exports and imports cars. This kind of trade enables specialization and large-scale production, which result in lower prices and a greater diversity of commodities.

Economies of scale combined with reduced transport costs also help to explain why an increasingly larger share of the world population lives in cities and why similar economic activities are concentrated in the same locations. Lower transport costs can trigger a self-reinforcing process whereby a growing metropolitan population gives rise to increased large-scale production, higher real wages and a more diversified supply of goods. This, in turn, stimulates further migration to cities. Krugman's theories have shown that the outcome of these processes can well be that regions become divided into a high-technology urbanized core and a less developed "periphery".


Ignoring radicals such as Noam Chomsky, Paul Krugman is probably public enemy #1 of American "conservatives" these days. I suspect liberals are happy with the pick, whereas conservatives would question the pick. The prize is supposed to be for economics but a lot of people pass judgement based on a person's political stance. To me, this is especially true in economics because economics is intertwined with politics.

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