Paul Greenberg

It's not just Dr. Krugman's recurrent prophecies of another Crash that impress-he's been making those since memories runneth not to the contrary-but the uncanny effect he has on the market. He no sooner predicts disaster than the dawgone thing goes sky-high again, setting new records. Like the hoofer who's told to play Sophocles but can't stop breaking into musical comedy.

Surely another dip in the market is bound to come-so long as there's a business cycle-but Paul Krugman's magic touch keeps delaying it, turning every down into still another unstoppable up.

It's positively unnatural. The man is a kind of walking, talking, and, best of all, writing version of Al Capp's poor little jinx of a character, Joe Btfsplk-only in reverse, leaving not disaster but good fortune wherever he goes. The New York Stock Exchange ought to put him on retainer.

If only Paul Krugman would just keep writing about the coming End of It All, prosperity might be assured.

Then there's the language in which Dr. Krugman sends out his jeremiads. It is, in a word, hilarious-if unintentionally so. He's got to be the country's leading practitioner of purple-as-a-bad-bruise prose. Mrs. Malaprop might have spoken like that if only she'd had a Ph.D. in the dismal science.

I've saved my favorite Krugmanism of all time for those occasions when I may need a bit of cheering up:

"And when the chickens that didn't hatch come home to roost, we will rue the days when, misled by sloppy accounting and rosy scenarios, we gave away the national nest egg."

As prose, that's a lot of poultry. Try to visualize those chickens that didn't hatch coming home to roost, if you can stop laughing. Why, that's almost Zen, like the sound of one hand clapping. His reference to the national nest egg is just lagniappe.

I can't wait to read the professor's next jeremiad about the imminent Crash; the economy can always use a little help, and so can the nation's sense of humor.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.