The Accidental Theorist Essay - Critical Essays

The Accidental Theorist

THE ACCIDENTAL THEORIST: AND OTHER DISPATCHES FROM THE DISMAL SCIENCE is a collection of twenty-seven of Paul R. Krugman’s best essays that were written between the fall of 1995 and the summer of 1997. Throughout the book, Krugman uses clear English interspersed with understandable models and examples to communicate to the general public simple truths about economical issues, including unemployment, supply-side economics, corporate downsizing, globalization, economic growth, and financial speculation.

Krugman’s essays unravel and simplify some long-held and lofty economic ideas at a level that can be mostly understood by the general public, including insights on the effect of production efficiency on labor demand, the impact of globalization on economic policy, and the unimportance of the trade deficit with China. By examining pundits from across the political spectrum, Krugman enlightens the reader about the workings of the national economy, pointing out some of the pitfalls of the “supply-siders” of the Reagan-Bush era, as well as those of the “strategic traders” of the Clinton administration.

Since the book covers many important technical topics with great clarity, the reader’s desire to better understand economic principles, as well as the economic rhetoric of politicians, is encouraged and reinforced. However, this strong point also becomes a weak point of the book. Krugman not only needs to make the general public aware of the broad economic issues and problems, but he also needs to better address some practical solutions that might help resolve more of the problems. Nevertheless, the book is basically solid, and what Krugman has to say is clear, important, and provides the common public with a better overall understanding of the workings of our national economy.

Sources for Further Study

Booklist. XCIV, May 15, 1998, p. 1571.

Boston Magazine. XC, August, 1998, p. 208.

Business Economics. XXXIII, October, 1998, p. 76.

Foreign Affairs. LXXVII, July, 1998, p. 124.

Library Journal. CXXIII, June 15, 1998, p. 89.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLV, March 23, 1998, p. 86.

The Washington Post Book World. XXVIII, June 14, 1998, p. 13.