A Book I Wish Someone Else Had Written
By Arnold Kling
The book is Intellectual Capital. Forty Years of the Nobel Prize in Economics, by Thomas Karier, and I was sent a review copy. It appears that the author culled through the economics Nobel web site to obtain material.
There are a number of bloggers who I think could have done this project well. David Warsh, Brad DeLong, Tyler Cowen, or Mark Thoma immediately come to mind. I believe that I could have pulled it off, also.
However, I could not get on Karier’s wavelength. To me, he seems to be very unsympathetic to his subject matter. Instead of offering an appreciative, insightful, generous interpretation of Nobel-winners’ work, Karier comes across as out to denigrate its significance and recycle the most lurid personal stories. For example, he dwells on Stiglitz’s diatribe against the International Monetary Fund and on Ken Rogoff’s reply, which is really beside the point in trying to appreciate Stiglitz’s scholarly contributions.
I don’t see how one can come away from this book with a sense of what Samuelson, Solow, or Tobin mean to the economics profession. Karier’s treatment of other economists is even more shabby.
If you are interested in learning about economics by looking at the Nobel Prize winners, then I strongly recommend the Nobel Prize web site.