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Bush critic wins Nobel for economics

Krugman (Mel Evans / The Spokesman-Review)
Krugman (Mel Evans / The Spokesman-Review)

PRINCETON, N.J. – Paul Krugman, whose relentless criticism of the Bush administration includes opposition to the $700 billion financial bailout, won the Nobel prize in economics Monday for his work on international trade patterns.

The Princeton University professor and New York Times columnist is the best-known American economist to win the prize in decades.

The Nobel committee commended Krugman’s work on global trade, beginning with a 10-page paper in 1979 that knit together two fields of study, helping to foster a better understanding of why countries produce similar products and why people move from the small towns to cities.

Krugman is best known for his unabashedly liberal column in the Times, which he has written since 1999. In it, he has said Republicans are becoming “the party of the stupid” and that the economic meltdown made GOP presidential nominee John McCain “more frightening now than he was a few weeks ago.”

But at a news conference, Krugman said he doesn’t think he won the prize because of his political views.

“Nobel prizes are given to intellectuals,” he said. “A lot of intellectuals are anti-Bush.”

Tore Ellingsen, a member of the prize committee, acknowledged that Krugman was an “opinion maker” but said he was honored solely for his research.

“We disregard everything except for the scientific merits,” Ellingsen said.

Krugman, 55, was the lone winner of the $1.4 million award and the latest in a string of Americans to be honored. It was only the second time since 2000 that a single laureate won the prize, which is typically shared by two or three researchers.