Thursday, October 16, 2008

Krugman Refuses to Post My Comment

Today on his blog Paul Krugman put up his own description of the work for which he received the Nobel Prize in economics. I sent him a comment some hours ago asking what he had to say about some of the literature that preceded his 1991 paper on economic geography that mathemetically shows how agglomeration and spatial differentiation proceed, given that he did not, and never has, cited or mentioned any of this. Again, in his paper and elsewhere he has claimed to have provided the first such mathematical model. He has not posted my comment, although perhaps he will after several more hours.

Just for the record, here are two, although they are not the only ones, papers that appeared prior to his that use highly rigorous mathematical models to study agglomeration in spatial location models. I note that one of these was in a prominent economics journal.

Y.Y. Papageorgiou and T.R. Smith, 1983. "Agglomeration as Local Instability of Spatially Uniform Steady-States." Econometrica, vol. 51, pp. 1109-1119.

Wolfgang Weidlich and Gunter Haag. 1987. "A Dynamic Phase Transition Model for Spatial Agglomeration Processes." Journal of Regional Science, vol. 27, pp. 529-569.

This last paper contains a figure that closely resembles one that Krugman publicly presented during a session on complexity at the ASSA/AEA in the early 1990s, not offering any source for it other than himself, although, of course, it remains possible that he never read the paper.

Nevertheless, I continue accept that he is deserving of receiving the prize and even all by himself. Even if there are some question marks about literature citation or complete accuracy of some of his statements, his models have been very well done, and he has done very innovative work in other areas as well, such as foreign exchange rate modeling.


Unknown said...

I don't think he is the one who makes the call:

(9/22) "Comments welcome — but …

One of the problems with this blog is that I ruffled a few feathers back when Bush had an 80 percent approval rating, and somehow I wasn’t impressed. People remember, and as a result, any unmoderated comment stream that I run gets overrun with insults and obscenities; so comments on this blog have to be moderated. And the moderator (not me) has other work.

So right now we have a backlog of more than 2000 comments. We’ll try to get through them, but it may take a little while."

And, in February:

"Technical note

I don’t moderate the comments on this blog; it’s done by people at the Times. (I don’t have time.) And there is sometimes a backlog, because people at the Times have other things to do; right now, according to my dashboard, there are 436 comments awaiting moderation.

So if your comment doesn’t appear for a while, it’s not because I’m editing out dissent. It’s just logistical. I wish we could have open comments, but experience shows that the site would quickly be overwhelmed by trolls."

Anonymous said...

Are you saying that the Nobel commitee routinely awards medals to non-original work?

Maybe that's why Einstein never won anything for relativity; it had too much Lorentz in it. said...

I am in Toronto on a computer with people waiting in line to use.


It is possible that I am being unkind to Paul Krugman. However, the hard fact is that I could say much worse than I have said here, on your blog, or in print, and will not do so.


He did what he got the prize for, and I have argued that it was really for doing it in both fields, trade and location theory, even though others did it in each before him. What I am complaining about here is really a subsidiary issue, an exaggerated claim on his part that is related to, but not central to, his claim.

Sometimes the award is given to someone who does something the best or applies it best. said...

It is now two days since Krugman put up his post. There were nine comments posted when I put up this post. There are now 61, and my comment remains unposted, whoever is/was responsible for this.

Back 15 years ago or so when I challenged Krugman in an AEA session on complexity about his not citing the source for a figure he put up (one that had appeared in Weidlich and Haag's paper), he said, "we can discuss citatons later, next question." As he was the session chair that was that, and he has not ever since addressed the issues.

As far as I am concerned, "later" has arrived. It is "now," although it appears that he is going to continue his past policy of ignoring this question in the hope that it will disappear again under the rug. The unpleasant bottom line is that as long as it is not addressed, his statements in his book about there being no mathematically rigorous models of agglomeration in location theory remain simply false.