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May 25, 2017

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Paul Krugman wins the Nobel economics prize

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Paul Krugman, the Princeton University scholar, New York Times columnist and unabashed liberal, won the Nobel prize in economics Monday for his analysis of how economies of scale can affect trade patterns and the location of economic activity.

Krugman has been a harsh critic of the Bush administration and the Republican Party in The New York Times, where he writes a regular column and has a blog called "Conscience of a Liberal."

He has also taken the Bush administration to task over the current financial meltdown, blaming its pursuit of deregulation and unencumbered fiscal policies for the financial crisis that has threatened the global economy with recession.

Perhaps better known as a columnist than an economist to the public at large, Krugman has also come out forcefully against John McCain during the economic meltdown, saying the Republican presidential candidate is "more frightening now than he was a few weeks ago." Krugman also has derided the Republicans as becoming "the party of stupid."

Tore Ellingsen, a member of the prize committee, acknowledged that Krugman was an "opinion maker" but added that he was honored on the merits of his economic research, not his political commentary.

"We disregard everything except for the scientific merits," Ellingsen told The Associated Press.

The 55-year-old American economist was the lone winner of the 10 million kronor (US$1.4 million) award and the latest in a string of American researchers 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.

Not one to tone down his opinions, Krugman has compared the current financial crisis to the devastation of the 1930s.

"We are now witnessing a crisis that is as severe as the crisis that hit Asia in the 90's. This crisis bears some resemblance to the Great Depression," Krugman said.

But he was optimistic that a global effort aimed at stemming the financial blood loss had taken root.

"I'm slightly less terrified today than I was on Friday," he said, referring to the weekend crisis talks among European leaders that led to the nationalization of British banks, unlimited access to U.S. dollars to banks worldwide and efforts to stave off a global recession.

In contrast to his treatment of U.S. financial officials, Krugman has praised leaders in Britain for their response to the global financial crisis.

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