James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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My formulaic bid for a Nobel Prize in economics

Posted by James McPherson on October 19, 2008

New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has won this year’s Nobel Prize in economics (along with about $1.4 million, which he no doubt was happy to have awarded in Swedish kronor rather than in dollars). When someone asked me why he won, I theorized that it was because he was the only economist left who hadn’t already won it and who hadn’t killed himself in the past couple of weeks.

The Nobel committee says Krugman won because of “his analyses of international trade and economic geography.” And though he has admittedly written 20 books and hundreds of articles, as far as I can see, basically Krugman’s win comes down to a formula he developed to explain international trade. He tried to explain that formula to Fareed Zakaria today on Zakaria’s CNN program, a program that my wife and I watch from time to time despite the fact that the host and almost all of his guests are intimidatingly intelligent.

Somehow I don’t foresee my books or blog earning me the Nobel Prize for literature (after all, we’ve heard about the anti-American bias in that category), nor are even my most bipartisan political efforts here likely to win me the Nobel Peace Prize. My time as a journalist probably demonstrates that I lack the scientific knowledge for the prizes in chemistry, physics or medicine.

Still, for 10 million kronor–without even having to pony up a buck for a lottery ticket–I’ll make a bid for a Nobel of my own by offering a simple formula that I think well explains the current economic situation:

$ + GOP = FU

To the Nobel committee: I’ll gladly take a check, as long as it’s not from an American bank. And to the New York Times: Yes, I’ll write a column for you, if I can do it from the Pacific Northwest.

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