Newsweek hailed Paul Krugman as "a superstar among economists" and went on to praise Peddling Prosperity as "the best primer around on recent U.S. economic history." Others joined the chorus.
In this intellectual history of recent American economic thought, Krugman ( The Age of Diminished Expectations ) maintains that there is ``a constant market for doctrines that play to popular prejudices, whether they make sense or not. In times of economic distress, the search for politically useful ideas . . . takes on a special intensity.'' He deftly analyzes liberal and conservative academic economists, Keynes and ``new Keynesians,'' as well as ``policy entrepreneurs'' who, he contends, often offer stylish answers unencumbered by logic or data. Krugman caustically denigrates supply-siders as ``ideologues whose economic concepts were cartoonlike in their simplicity.'' Yet the author, a professor of economics at MIT, is also apprehensive about the pervasive influence of conservative academic economists and of ``strategic traders'' who have ``sold the American public . . . on the idea that our most crucial economic problem is our struggle with other advanced nations for global markets.'' This benchmark study will stimulate much needed discussion in both academia and Washington, D.C. (Mar.)