Your Questions Answered

SYNOPSIS: Apparently a web-stalker is offering $100 (click here to see the thread) for personal information on Paul Krugman. Here Paul Krugman answers all his questions. Click here to see Krugman's CV and here to see our articles about Krugman's life and career.

Oh, what a lovely world. A correspondent alerted me to the following query from "drstrangelove-ga" at Google answers:

"I would like to acquire as much information as possible about the
personal and professional life of Paul Krugman, the Princeton
economics professor who writes a column for the New York Times. For
example, it is publicly known that he was a paid consultant to Enron
-- what other consulting, advisory or employment arragements has he
had with other companies or organizations? What is known about his
family -- who were his parents, other relatives; is he married,
children? What is his lifestyle like -- what is is compensation at the
New York Times (salary, options, bonus, whatever) and at Princeton
(salary, retirement, whatever). How about royalties from books,
speaking engagements, and so on? What kind of house does he live in?
What kind of car does he drive? Is anything known about his personal
life (hobbies, sports, sexual orientation, etc)? How about his career
-- he's taught at quite a few colleges, why has he moved around so
much? Were there any problems? I will pay $100 for this as a starting
point, and if satisfied, will tip generously and may ask follow-up
questions for which I will pay also (but don't play Scheherezade on
me, now)."

Poor drstrangelove. He (she?) doesn't realize that friends of the administration must have already looked into all of this. Read Lou Dubose's new book "Boy Genius", about Karl Rove, and you'll realize that if there was something there they would have used it. In fact, they would have invented something if they thought it would stick. But to save drstrangelove additional trouble and money, here are the answers:

Corrupt consulting deals: Actually, my outside income has mainly involved speaking to business groups. (I've done missions for the UN, consulting for the World Bank and IMF, etc., but those things aren't lucrative. I'm also a "Centenary Professor" at the London School of Economics - it doesn't pay me anything, but might be a helpful connection when I'm forced to flee the country.) The Leigh Lecture Bureau, in Somerville NJ, represents me for speaking engagements. (908-253-8600) Before I went to work for the NY Times I did a lot of paid speaking, mainly to investment bank conferences outside the US: I was considered an expert on financial crises, and was credited with having predicted the crisis in Asia (though I had no idea how bad it would get. As I told people, I was 90% wrong about Asia - it's just that everyone else was 150% wrong.)  So people wanted to hear my predictions about the next one. My fee for overseas talks was usually $40-50K.

I do very little paid speaking now, and no consulting, because the New York Times has quite strict rules: basically I can only get paid for speaking to nonprofits that have no possible interest in influencing the content of the column. It's a good rule - read Eric Alterman's book "Sound and Fury" to see how speaking fees can corrupt pundits -  though it meant that I took a substantial income cut to work for the Times. (I could have cashed in big time on Argentina, another one I got somewhat right - and I could probably have another round of Asia stuff, since it's starting to look as if Japan may finally start listening to what I told them 5 years ago.)

By the way, someone did once try to corrupt me seriously. Back in 1998 or so, long before the Times entered the picture, a hedge fund offered me a retainer for advance copies of articles I wrote for magazines like Fortune and Foreign Affairs.  I didn't take them up on the offer.

Excessive current income: I won't tell you my salary at either Princeton or the Times. But they are both very nice. Combined with royalties on my textbook with Maury Obstfeld, International Economics, which is in its 6th edition - it's the leading textbook in the field - and my wife's salary (she also teaches at Princeton), I am definitely comfortable. Hey, it's OK to make money as long as it's not based on exploiting insider status, and as long as you pay your proper share of taxes. My wife and I hope to be even more comfortable when the principles textbook we're writing starts to yield royalties.

Lavish lifestyle: We have a lovely house in Princeton, though it's not a mansion.  It's on a wooded lot, and we have lots of deer, which drives my wife crazy (she's a gardener.)  We  have two cars - an old Jeep Cherokee, and a very old Volvo. Once the weather improves, I'll bike into the office most days.

Scandalous personal life: My personal life, I'm sorry to say, isn't interesting. I'm an only child.  My parents, who have been married for more than 50 years, are retired -- my father worked for an insurance company, my mother was a Long Island housewife. My cousins include a CPA, a dental technician, a set designer, and a violinist. I am not, as far as I know, related either to the Krugman who works for the retail association, or to the coroner in the JonBenet Ramsey case. According to a newsletter my parents receive, about families that came from a now-vanished shtetl, I am distantly related to David Frum. (Maybe he and I are the real axis of evil.)

My first marriage ended in divorce. My current wife and I lived in sin - very sedate, bourgeois sin, I'm afraid - for a couple of years, then married in 1996, and have lived happily ever after. Sorry, but I have no sexual escapades to report. I have no children from either marriage. We do have two wonderful nephews, whom we take on vacations - we took them to Maui on our honeymoon. We also have two cats; I withhold their names to protect their privacy.  To get away from it all, we take bike trips in France, on which we drink wine and eat too much. Our plan, when the textbook is done, is to take an extended trip, for as long as we can manage.

Oh, while we're at it: I still have all my hair, but have so far fought a losing battle against my middle-aged paunch. (See bike trips, above.)

Unstable employment history: I moved several times in the 1990s. Basically, I'm a trailing spouse. Here's the sequence: when my future wife and I began seeing each other, I was at MIT and she was teaching in England. The commute was wearing us down. Then she got a job in the U.S. - but it was at Stanford Business School. So I asked Stanford if they wanted to make me an offer, and they did. Then MIT made us an offer to get me back, which we chose to accept because my wife disliked business-school teaching. Finally, Princeton made us an offer we couldn't refuse - partly because the details of the offer were very good, partly because Princeton was clearly the up-and-coming department. It also worked out well for family reasons: my parents are living in a retirement community not far from Princeton, and my mother-in-law, who hated Boston, has purchased a house nearby.

By the way, each time I moved the institution I left made strong efforts to keep me.

Other evil actions: Sad to say, I've never murdered anyone, or even been arrested  - I think I was pulled over once for speeding, but don't remember the details. (Something like going 35 in a 25 zone.) I tried smoking pot once, but failed: I've never smoked, so I went into a coughing fit at my first and only puff. I do drink: see bike trips, above. At the moment I have an unpaid parking ticket - there's this convenient lot on Princeton's campus, right next to the econ dept., that we're not supposed to use, and I thought I could get away with it for an hour.

So that's the story; sorry, I wish it was more interesting. Lots of additional information, including a CV, can be found at the unofficial site,

You can mail the $100 check to:

Paul Krugman
Woodrow Wilson School
Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544

Originally published on the Official Paul Krugman Site, 1.10.03