On economists, sociologists, and evil – an anecdote and an insight from Paul Krugman

paul krugmanProfessor Paul Krugman at the American Sociological Association conference: 

“When I went to graduate school, I took international trade from Jagdish Bhagwati who explained to his class his personal theory of reincarnation which was that if you are a good economist, the virtuous economist, you are reborn as a physicist. But if you are an evil, wicked economist, you are reborn as a sociologist 🙂
By which he did not mean, by the way, that sociologists‬ are bad people. What he meant is that the subject is even harder than economics to do. So, but this is primarily going to be about economics which doesn’t mean that we have all the answers. And I think if there is one thing that we [economists‬] have learned, by the way, pretty hard over the last is that we do not have all the answers and that’s a good thing to remember.”

This extract is from Paul Krugman‬‘s lecture at the American Sociological Association 2004 annual meeting, (video and the full transcript) in which he presented an interesting analysis of neoliberalism and globalization, mostly because this has been said in 2004. The transcript also includes the remarks on the same issues in Latin American context by Fernando Henrique Cardoso – an influential sociologist who became the President of Brazil.

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