Monday, Mar. 07, 2011

The Conscience of a Liberal

Over the past decade, economist Paul Krugman has emerged as one of the nation's most vocal (and sometimes strident) critics of the Republican Party — and of Democrats he deems too timid. Before that, though, Krugman made his name in a smaller circle as a clever and politically hard-to-pin-down explainer of economic phenomena. And before that, he made his name in an even smaller circle as a brilliant deviser of mathematical economic models. I know the current Krugman is far more influential, but I have a soft spot for the earlier versions. The best thing about Conscience of a Liberal is that — unlike Krugman's New York Times column — it gives glimpses of all the Krugmans. Sure, there are fire-breathing denunciations of right-wing outrages, but there are also witty asides, wonky explanations of European monetary policy and, lately, lots of great protrain propaganda. Even if you hate Krugman's politics, you can learn from him.

Fox is the editorial director of the Harvard Business Review and the author of The Myth of the Rational Market. He is a former columnist for TIME.