Is a Krugman Textbook the Same as Everyday Krugman?

My high school junior came home from school today and down thudded two metric tons of Semester 2 textbooks onto the living room floor. “AP Macroecon anyone?” she quipped. I asked her what the textbook author’s name was and before she could utter the final consonant, her mother and I retorted “Krugman?!?!”

I am an economic novice, having read work by Thomas Sowell, Milton Friedman, and countless audio/video media of others. I’ve read some Krugman essays and a very good a…

  1. Schrodinger


    Is a Krugman Textbook the Same as Everyday Krugman?


    No. You get a trillion dollar platinum coin free of charge with every 100 textbooks ordered.

  2. dittoheadadt

    Not sure if this link will help, so here it is.

    This is the lead-in to the site:


    Analysis and criticism of America’s most prominent public intellectual and champion of Keynesian economics. I am part of the Austrian School of Economics, and I critique Krugman’s writings from that perspective.

  3. Mark

    Krugman as an academic until the mid-1990s has a different, and much better, reputation than Krugman, the progressive polemicist in the New York Times.  In fact, part of the cottage industry of debunking Krugman columns is to quote the earlier Krugman from his academic work.  He may not have been Hayekian in his earlier phase but he was actually fairly well respected across the economist spectrum, even by those who think his more recent public opining is ridiculous.  Long way of saying if it is an older Krugman textbook you may not agree with everything in it but it is not progressive nonsense.

  4. PJS

    I had the same reaction.  Daughter S took AP Econ last year and advises the textbook is not a complete load of rubbish.   She is decidedly free-market/Hayekian/Austrian , so I would trust her on this.  Maybe read along with your child and have some discussions.  Had Daughter S not been at boarding school I would have done so.

    Remember:  the Nobel Prize in Economics is given for a specific piece of work, and not for overall achievement.   Wikipedia:  According to the prize Committee, the prize was given for Krugman’s work explaining the patterns of international trade and the geographic concentration of wealth, by examining the effects of economies of scale and of consumer preferences for diverse goods and services.

  5. dash

    the prize was given for Krugman’s work explaining the patterns of international trade

    I which he explains what would happen if China decided to mint a 16 trillion dollar coin and buy up the US debt. 

  6. BrentB67

    The only economic stimulus provided by a Krugman book would the revenue generated at the gas station where I would fill the gas can and buy a lighter to burn the book.

    I may actually become a far left environmentalist wacko and chain myself to a Starbucks or something to protest any tree that was killed to mill the paper this atrocious act of fiction was printed on.

  7. MBF

    I remember one of the first Macro lectures of the semester. The professor posted the formula for calculating GDP and it included government spending, as in, more spending results in higher measured GDP. I immediately suspected that all the useful economics were taught the previous semester in Micro. I still feel that way ten years later.

  8. iWc

    In college we considered Economics to be the only major where it was not necessary to write OR do math. Economics: the only field where the exam questions remain the same every year. It is the answers that change.

  9. Schrodinger

    Calculating GDP

    Y = C + I + E + G where Y = GDP C = Consumer Spending I = Investment made by industry E = Excess of Exports over Imports G = Government Spending

    Problem with increasing G is that it results is in a smaller I as the governement has to borrow or tax for the money it spends. Both reduce I, taxes directly and borrowing indirectly through crowding out private debt. Result is Y(GDP) does not really grow.

    Long term C is also affected as less I means fewer jobs and higher unemployment. C is also affected by low interest rates that are necessary to keep government borrowing afordable.

  10. Garrett Petersen

    I used the Krugman textbook as a first-year undergrad and detected no partisan leanings.  I think both right-wing and left-wing economists write pretty similar introductory textbooks since there is broad agreement about the basic tools every economist should have.  The partisan debates happen later on once you get your PhD.

  11. Goldgeller

    I can’t help out too much with that, since I don’t remember it so well. I was  an undergrad econ major at UMiami and used his books, along with Greg Mankiws’, in my classes, I found them to be understandable and have clear examples.  Most intro courses/books will teach a straight-forward Keynesian analysis. Later on you learn “it’s more complicated than that.” But it’s important to get the basics anyways. 

  12. MichaelC19fan

    I used Krugman’s co-authored textbook on international economics. You would of thought the person who wrote the textbook is a different person from the NY Times columnist.

  13. Lady Egoist

    Don’t fret too much, Brady.  That textbook is nothing like his cringe-inducing columns are.  (I’m not familiar with the high school edition you daughter has, though I’d imagine the additional layer of editing it received should also ease your mind.)  Unfortunately, most introductory macro texts are Keynesian though.  Even Greg Mankiw’s is, which was the introductory text I remember using.  

    On the bright side, most of any macro course involves learning definitions and what amounts to macro accounting–though in a sense that’s what Keynesian theory is.

    My concern is that tens of thousands of students will go on to assume Krugman is not only an honest person but also an authority on macroeconomics.  Oy vey!

    By the way, I believe Robin Wells is Krugman’s spouse.

  14. Gödel

    This seems like a great opportunity to refer to the important work of the Ludwig von Mises Institute, who have been the primary supporters of Austrian economics for 30 years.

    People looking for brief, carefully-reasoned introductions to economics from the Austrian perspective should see An Introduction to Austrian Economics and An Introduction to Economic Reasoning.

    Readers wishing to put Austrian economics in the specific context of how money works, the relationship between banking and the economy, and boom/bust cycles should run, not walk, to read Money, Bank Credit, and Economic Cycles. This is a staggeringly comprehensive work, but quite readable, and indispensable for placing banking in its proper historical perspective and for its coverage of various schools’ critiques of each others’ theories.

    The truly committed will want to read the magnum opi: Human Action and Man, Economy, and State with Power and Market. No summary I’m competent to write can do them justice.

    All young people—and more than a few of us old people—should watch Fear the Boom and Bust and Fight of the Century.

    Austrian economics is not flawless, though. I also recommend Debunking Economics – Revised, Expanded, and Integrated Edition: The Naked Emperor Dethroned?

  15. David John

    Will your daughter get any in-class exposure to Austrian Econ?

    As a first-order critique, consider that politicians love Keynes! they get to spend the money and it doesn’t even matter what for! What kind of mischief do you suppose that leads to?

  16. Capt. Aubrey

    I would advise your HS student to listen to every podcast on including the interview of Krugman since unlike Krugman, Russ Roberts is judicious, even handed, and intellectually honest.

  17. StevenK85

    I used a Krugman textbook for an international trade course (his specialty).  While there might have been a nuance or two that seemed too anti-market, for the most part it was classicly pro-trade.

    More importantly, I think that any intro to Macroeconomics course will be overly Keynesian (especially if it is teaching to the AP test).  In my experience with macro course, intro was 90% Keynes, intermediate about 50%, and advanced 0%.  It’s unfortunate that most students only learn the introduction.  I was fortunate that in all three courses my teachers/professors were more or less conservative, so that even when we were learning Keynesian material, there was some skepticism to it. 

  18. Brian Clendinen

    Yes I agree, almost all Macroeconomics in College and High school  should be renamed to Intro to Keynesian Economics.

    However Krugman at one time used to be a pretty good labor economist, just as Bernanke used to be a pretty good monetary policy economist.

  19. Robert Promm
    Schrodinger’s Cat: Calculating GDP

    Y = C + I + E + G  where  Y = GDP  C = Consumer Spending  I = Investment made by industry  E = Excess of Exports over Imports G = Government Spending

    · 21 hours ago

    The problem lies in the P of GDP i.e. Product.  To consider government output as “product” can probably only be done in a pejorative sense.  The other hard issue with G in the equation is lack of market trade-offs.  You cannot trade-off government “product” against free market alternatives.  Therefore, G’s additive value to Y is suspect.  G has a <1 multiplier effect whereas I has a >1 multiplier effect otherwise the investment would move quickly to something else.  Movement of G to alternatives is glacial at best.

  20. Shane McGuire

    I would invoke Joe Pesci’s opening argument in My Cousin Vinny. She should repeat that verbatim after every quote from the textbook is uttered in class.

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