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The Accidental Theorist: And Other Dispatches from the Dismal Science Hardcover – May, 1998

4.2 out of 5 stars 45 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When economics and ideology mix, the results often sound plausible, but in fact can be terribly wrong and lead to ill-conceived and sometimes dangerous economic policy. For several years, Paul Krugman, author of The Accidental Theorist and one of the most celebrated economists of the '90s, has been punching holes in fashionable ideas such as the logic of supply-side economics and the evils of globalization. The Accidental Theorist is a collection of Krugman's best published and unpublished essays that cover everything from the Asian financial crisis to inflation in America.

Krugman's cause is neither left or right; rather it's the pursuit of clear thinking about economics that's unfettered by ideology. He writes, "But we should never be surprised when prominent people say foolish things about economics. The history of economic doctrines teaches us that the influence of an idea may have nothing to do with its quality--that an ideology can attract a devoted following, even come to control the corridors of power, without a shred of logic or evidence in its favor."

If you've read and enjoyed Krugman's regular column for Slate, "The Dismal Science," or have admired his work in the New York Times, The Washington Monthly, and Foreign Affairs, you'll find that the The Accidental Theorist is a must read. The essays in this book reflect a clairvoyant and playful mind that's patient enough to unravel and simplify--not dumb down--the arcane and lofty ideas of economics to something that the rest of us can understand. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards

From Library Journal

Krugman brightens the "dismal science" of economics with this essay collection clarifying an array of topics from general monetary policy to downsizing to wealth inequality, liquidity, even economic "crank doctrines."
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 204 pages
  • Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 1st edition (May 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393046389
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393046380
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.8 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,683,245 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Omer Belsky on April 5, 2004
Format: Paperback
In the introduction to 'The Accidental Theorist', Paul Krugman states his ambition to do for Economics what Carl Sagan has done to Astronomy - to serve it to the intelligent public without the specialized vocabulary and the math - to popularize economics. In so far as this book is intelligent, enlightening, and most of all - fun, Krugman has hit home run.
This is a book of essays, most published in Slate, but also including various speeches and pieces for other markets, such as the New York Times Magazine. In most of them, Krugman discusses the fallacies of prominent 'Accidental Theorists' - people who get economics wrong, either through ignorance of and contempt to economics - like the 'hero' of the title essay, Rolling Stone reporter William Greider who apparently thinks that economics is "not really a science so much as a value laden form of prophecy" even though he doesn't know the first thing about it (p.23) - or, for those who should know better, because they are blinded by their political agenda - like Conservative house leader and professor of economics Richard Armery, whose manipulation of data Krugman exposes (pp. 58-59).
Krugman is celebrated as an independent scholar, deconstructing fallacies both from the left and from the right. Even though Krugman attacks leftists wrongs (as in the aforementioned 'accidental theorist' and in a series of attacks on the dismal economic policies of socialist France), it is clear where his heart is. Krugman is a free market Liberal, who supports active governments, both for the definition of property rights ('Taxes and Traffic Jams' pp.173-178), and for helping the poor, including funding Medicare by increasing taxation (pp. 189-190).
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Format: Paperback
This book is essentially a collection of Krugman's short articles from various sources in 1996 and 1997. I read some of them online after the 97 Asian Crisis. Today is 24th Oct 2002. What, and simply all, he said are still true today. He's a genius and really deserves a Nobel prize. To me, he already has. I think it becomes more appropriate to quote the praise of a Nobel Laureate from the back cover of the book than to write more myself:-(I checked that it's not on the editorial review here on Amazon)

"When it comes to popularized economic wisdom, there are a lot of balloons of ignorance out there, many of them reinforced by self interest and self confidence. Fortunately Paul Krugman is also out there, popping those balloons with intelligence, style and wit. You can learn a great deal, about economics and otherwise, by reading these delightful essays."

Robert M. Solow, Nobel Laureate
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Format: Paperback
This compilation of some of Paul Krugman's articles provides the reader wih an insight to a number of economic theories. Krugman's book doesn't require the reader to have an economic encyclopedia by his/her side while reading it - the examples are very basic and down to earth, and even those that are totally clueless when it comes to economics are able to understand what Krugman is trying to say. He has skillfully taken many a complex theory and broken it down into a language that can be comprehended by the massses. In fact Krugman at times makes fun of those other economists that make simple economic theories look highly complicated. While reading the book you will also come across Krugman's sly sense of humor which livens things up dramatically. Krugman also emphasises the connection between international relations and economics - you will understand the intricacies of these two worlds, and the way in which they are intertwined. An extremely interesting and enjoyable read.
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Format: Paperback
The Accidental Theorist was written by Paul Krugman, an economics professor at Princeton and a contributing author to Slate and Fortune magazine. (For more bio information, check out Dr. Krugman's personal site .
The Accidental Theorist is a collection of essays written for various journals and are categorized into six sections. Krugman showcases his belief in the markets and his contempt for supply-side economics all in one very accessible book.
Part 1: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
Part 2: Right-Wing Wrongs
Part 3: Globalization and Globaloney
Part 4: Delusions of Growth
Part 5: The Speculator's Ball
Part 6: Beyond the Market
Part 1: Jobs, Jobs, Jobs This section discusses the misconceptions that the average Joe has about there only being a set amount of work to be done and that if this work is done by machine or sent overseas the economy will suffer.
Part 2: Right-Wing Wrongs Krugman appears to reserve certain contempt for supply-side economics and has reserved a whole section to for the topic.
Part 3: Globalization and Globaloney In Part 3 Krugman harps back to Part 1 and discusses the advantages of Globalization.
Part 4: Delusions of Growth
Part 4 is a grab bag of topics and covers topics such as: Inflation, Fed targeting employment rate, Japan's slump, Technology so-called productivity gains and others. This is the best section in the book and is worth the price of the book by itself.
Part 5: The Speculator's Ball
Part 5 discusses the currency markets. There was a lot of activity in this area in the 90's and is a good read.
Part 6: Beyond the Market Part 6 discusses where markets fail. Here Krugman discusses the environment, taxes, the economics of democracy and traffic jams.
All in all a very good read.
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