There’s one and only one columnist in the world who owns a Nobel Prize, and that is the New York Times’ Paul Krugman. He won it in economics (he’s a professor at Princeton) but if they gave one in expository writing he would deserve another one, too.
Such is the case with his column today, which succinctly and adroitly explains the broad causes of the financial crisis in many Western economies today.
From The New York Times:
The fact is that what we’re experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. The policies that got us into this mess weren’t responses to public demand. They were, with few exceptions, policies championed by small groups of influential people — in many cases, the same people now lecturing the rest of us on the need to get serious. And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes.
Krugman goes on on to name a couple of the players. One is former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, the Ayn Rand acolyte who gave us the housing bubble (which is still deflating). Another is former President George W. Bush, who served his supporters more than he served the public.
I would have added in there the 1993 repeal of Glass-Stegall, which was initiated by the GOP but signed into law by President Bill Clinton (and which to date has not been re-enacted).
Part of Krugman’s genius is he keenly understands his audience and ensures his columns aren’t bogged down with technical economics that most readers wouldn’t understand. That’s a hard trick for nearly anybody to avoid, much less a highly schooled economist.