Noted economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman is leaving Princeton University after 13 years to become a professor in the Ph.D. program in economics at City University of New York (CUNY).

Paul Krugman

Fighting elitist reputation

Krugman, author of over 20 books and a popular columnist at the New York Times since 1999, has battled charges that he is an elitist, a charge he has denied in the past. The move from Princeton to a public university could be seen as a strategy to firmly establish a more populist reputation.

“It is in no sense a commentary on Princeton, which has been a wonderful place for me professionally and personally,” Krugman wrote on his New York Times blog.  Krugman had indicated the time spent commuting to New York City was not to his liking and a desire to focus his career on income inequality.  “My move reflects some hard thinking about how I can best make use of my time.  I’m now 61, and I realized that it’s time to take a hard look at where I really want to be at this point.  In terms of geography, the answer seemed clear on reflection: New York is the best place to pursue my current interests. Given that decision, I sought an academic base.”

In regards to focusing on the key populist issue of  income inequality, Krugman wrote:  “More and more of my work has focused on issues of income inequality, and nobody does more important work producing the hard data (than CUNY).”

Krugman’s controversial yet well-read commentary

When selecting Krugman to receive a Nobel Prize, the selection committee said Krugman’s main contribution was analysis of the effects of economies of scale and the assumption that consumers appreciate diversity.  Krugman is respected for his ability to popularize his complicated theories through easy-to-read books and newspaper columns, putting his ideas firmly in the mainstream of economic and political discussion.

While respected, Krugman is best known for his somewhat controversial stance on economic issues. His support of government expanding its monetary base, what some call unrestrained “money printing,” and his support of the US Treasury minting a $1 trillion coin to solve the US debt ceiling debate are among his two well known stances that have raised eyebrows.

While at times controversial, his commentary is respected and well read.  A recent column opposing the Trans-Pacific Partnership “trade” proposal, said to be loaded with corporate interests, is just one example of Krugman taking a more populist tone.