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The Accidental Theorist and Other Dispatches from the Dismal Science
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The Accidental Theorist and Other Dispatches from the Dismal Science

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  750 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
In this wonderfully cohesive set of sharp and witty essays, Paul Krugman tackles bad economic ideas from across the political spectrum. In plain English, he enlightens us on the Asian crisis, corporate downsizing, and the globalization of the American economy, among other topics. The writing here brilliantly combines the acerbic style and clever analysis that has made Krug ...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published 1999 by Norton (first published 1998)
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Aaron Arnold
Apr 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
It's impossible to read these twenty-year-old essays and not feel like many of them haven't aged a day. Whether you agree with them or not, or whether you even like the infamously acerbic Krugman or not, to a remarkable extent the logic behind the majority of these columns still feels fresh and relevant. I'm a big fan of his for a few reasons: I learned a lot of macro from his writings in grad school, I enjoy his lucid writing style, and I share his social-democratic political leanings with an a ...more
Oct 27, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those curious about economic thought
Krugman won the Nobel Prize in Economics just a few days after I checked this out of the library. I'd been reading his essays in the NYT for years, and his books had been on my to-be-read list for almost as long.

This set of essays is easy to read, mostly. At times the concepts can get a bit slippery to those of us that might not sufficiently remember enough about macroeconomics. They are a bit dated, however, dealing with events of the mid-to-late nineties, and I kept wondering whether and to wh
Apr 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Although nearing 20 years old, and with some essays going back as far as 1995, this book remains highly relevant to the global economy today, touching on a number of issues from inequality to currency to the environment. I would highly recommend for those interested in economics.
Oct 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
This collection of essays - most written around 10 yrs ago, in the late 90s - is an easy read, very accessible, but brief and cogent essays on macroeconomics. While the situations and examples are sometimes a little dated, a these were mostly magazine pieces, the ideas are still relevant for the most part. A few of the metaphors are quite brilliant for distilling otherwise boring-to-many issues (like monetary policy) for a layperson.
He writes for the NYT. He's liberal and much of this book atta
Jul 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bibliocase
ithout any recourse to a penumbra of mind numbing equations and a plethora of jargons, Paul Krugman in this collection of 30 odd concise essays demonstrates that the proverbial 'dismal' science can in fact be anything but dismal! Covering a wide repertoire of topics from environment to egregious speculation; from downsizing to inflation, "The Accidental Theorist" speaks out, nay pours forth with candor, vigour and vibrancy.
Effendy Yahaya
May 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a kickstart of Paul Krugman books in my list. It feels fresh as never thought that it was written almost two decades ago. Every point highlighted seems very fresh as exactly what has he predicted, happened. While reading this book, my subconcious mind had read it as it is been reviewed in TheEdge news. Remarkably, interesting and full of insight. Thanks to Prof. Meruoane who recommendes me to Paul Krugman's book. More adventure to come!
Areli Vázquez
Nov 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
El libro pretende ser de "divulgación", sin embargo, me fue difícil avanzar en la lectura. Con una rápida revisión de conceptos de macroeconomía (Coursera), me fue más fácil avanzar y terminar el libro. Eso no implica, claro, que yo entienda macroeconomía ó que haya entendido todo. Pero sí me dí cuenta de lo mucho que no entendía y algunas ideas que platica en el libro son muy interesantes y cambiaron la forma en la que yo pensaba.
Mar 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economía
Una colección de ensayos de los años 90 cargados de ironía y mucho sentido del humor al momento de explicar conceptos de la teoría económica a la luz de algunos de los hechos más destacados de la política norteamericana de la época y de las grandes crisis monetarias del mismo periodo ( México, Argentina, Asía, UK, Suecia)

Un libro muy divertido, que muestra que la economía en las manos apropiadas se puede volver mucho más que la "dismal science".
Joseph Jammal
Jun 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
There are some good nubs in this book but it is very dated. Mostly we spend our time seeing Krugman joust with windmills and strut with straw knights of bygone theories, at least it's a short read.
Cooper Cooper
Aug 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Very few economists write well. Very few journalists and politicians understand economics. Therefore, the public remains remarkably ill-informed about economic matters and this has realworld consequences: policy decisions are not infrequently based on misinformation and inept reasoning, and this can and does hurt the country’s economic health. A Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist, Krugman writes very well and pulls no punches: he is, as my economist brother says, “a young ...more
Jan 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There is the very real danger of reading a 20-year-old book of popular economics essays, declaring oneself an expert and becoming a cocktail party bore, which I am resisting.
Krugman is still making many of the same points (trickle-down even more thoroughly discredited) but the one more academic concept that seems like one ought to know about is NAIRU (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) which suggests to me that a magic wand that would double the national economic growth rate or ban
Robert C
Oct 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sure, it is a bit dated; but that does not make it wrong. Being a selection of articles it lacks a consistent theme. However, it is worth a read and is very readable.

Overall, I enjoyed it; but I would be hesitant to suggest it. My reason for being hesitant to suggest it is that it really doesn't address any particular issue. What it provided me was a new insight into how to communicate economic information without jargon.
Jul 22, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: business, nonfiction
I like Paul Krugman, he's really good at explaining economics, and his take on economic conservatism and health care is illuminating:

The reason, I believe, is that the political appeal of economic conservatism in the United States really has little to do with an appreciation of the virtues of free markets. Instead it is about the promise of something for nothing – a rejection of the idea taxes must be collected, that scarce resources must be conserved. The reason the electorate likes tax reform
Fraser Kinnear
May 31, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: history, economics
I've been reading Krugman on NYT for a whole now, amd I don't remember when I heard about this book, which is mostly a collection of OpEds he wrote for Slate in the 90s.

Because the audience for most of the pieces in this book were news readers, the book sometimes felt a bit out-of-date, and in that regard a reader today will have to appreciate it as a piece of history.

Having said that, Krugman still imbibes everything he writes about with a healthy dose of economic theory, which I greatly benef
John Roberson
Jul 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
It's a beautiful thing when a real scholar makes an accessible foray into the realm of ordinary people, not least because he has the background to smash the foolhardy platitudes of so many self-important pundits. (Oddly, he comes across as a bit self-important himself...) Though Krugman is clearly a liberal he dishes out the punishment to left and right. Unfortunately, at times we are forced to accept some of his conclusions on nothing but his authority, but overall the book is acceptably argued ...more
Eduardo Santiago
Dec 27, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Eduardo by: Dana B
A bit dated (the essays are from ~1996), and it's mostly Econ 101 ... but this is still important stuff and highly relevant today. Although the world has changed, basic principles have not. Unfortunately, Krugman's writing style is hard to get through. He tries, and he succeeds quite well, but just not well enough for me. There are too many sections where my reading came to a slogging halt.

For those so inclined, and with more time, I recommend Prof. Timothy Taylor's _Economics, 3rd Ed._ course f
Alejandro Shirvani
Dec 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
Written at the end of the 1990s so this does not include issues related to the global financial crisis but the general economic themes are still relevant. This is a superb collection of simple and short essays covering themes like globalisation, financial speculation, inflation, growth and unemployment. Krugman tackles general misconceptions and points out a lot of commonly accepted fallacies with a good sense of humour. Possibly some parts will go over the heads of a complete non-economist but ...more
Santiago Paz
Mar 24, 2016 rated it liked it
Paul Krugman is a master of putting economic theory in simple, yet formal, terms for the people to grasp the concepts that everyone should understand before being ignorant or pedantic about economic news. This book gathers some of his most representative essays about topics that saw light during the 90s. It helps us to understand how the world is moved by economy and debunks common misconceptions that have taken deep roots in our common thinking.
Jul 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: pretty much anyone
Very impressed with this book. It's his collection of Slate essays when he was just cutting his teeth writing for a popular audience. I really really like the title essay and pretty much force all my students to read it, regardless of what I'm teaching.

After that, I don't feel quite as strongly about it and in fact many of the essays are kind of weak. You can still retrieve most or all of this at
Jun 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite writing about events from the mid-1990s, Krugman's book reads as fresh today as it did back then. Many of the players are the same, most of the policy debates are the same and the world has changed little since then from a debate perspective. What HAS changed is another 15 years of supply-side economics which have savaged the American economy.
Sep 27, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent reference for those who would like to gain an understanding of basic principles of the dismal science without having to struggle through the heavy complicated terminology it is known for. The book is written in clear lucid prose. It is quite witty, often funny and directly cuts through the jargon to the pure unambiguous logic. Very entertaining and informative!!
Feb 12, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
12/Feb/11. Just started today.
07/Mar/11. Finished.

Nice book. As I chose it randomly among other economic books, I was not aware it had being written in the 90's. Whilst the age, it's nice to read some papers about US economy, while the Euro was not yet in place and China was completely off the discussions.
Feb 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommended to John by: Mike
First, this is just a reprint of some columns and articles Krugman wrote in the late 90s. He added some intros, but it's really just a rehash. Secondly, while I actually agree with most of what he said, he comes off as an arrogant prick and does not back up his own conclusions with nearly the evidence as he rips others' down.
Dec 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a really very interesting series of essays - grouped by theme but distinct enough to be interesting on their own. The writing was witty and, at times, highly critical of other authors. This is enjoyable to me but may not be to all tastes.
May 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: undergrad
This is the book that convinced me to major in Economics as an undergrad, and I have never looked back. Thanks, Paul Krugman!
Apr 04, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, westend
The book begins by defending glib conclusions and then continues to be full of them. In general, the argument is something like, "This is America. It's the 90's! Everything we're doing is awesome!"

It tends be very confident and move very fast without really establishing too much.
Jun 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Krugman combines the credibility of nobel laureate and the communication skills of a teacher. This is a wonderful collection of important economic concepts that all adults should understand for themselves.
Jun 26, 2011 marked it as to-read
Shelves: econ
note to self: mentioned by Tim Hartford on his review of Yoram Bauman's Cartoon Intro to Econ, and other entertaining layperson introduction to economics books on Browser (linked through Yoram's own list of reviews on
Oct 30, 2007 rated it liked it
The book is a collection of short essays written for magazines, so all of the information is very dated. It's not a bad collection but he seems to spend a lot of time ripping on supply-side economics. Good but not great by any means.
May 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
Very readable overview of economic fundamentals.
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Paul Robin Krugman is an American economist, liberal columnist and author. He is Professor of Economics and International Affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University, Centenary Professor at the London School of Economics, and an op-ed columnist for The New York Times. In 2008, Krugman won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics for his contributions ...more
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