This is a brief essay - 5,000 words, formatted for easy reading - by the Nobel-winning economist. It originally appeared in the Harvard Business Review in 1996, but the passage of time has not dated it.
In brief, Krugman's argument is that expertise in business does not translate into expertise in the government of a national - or, by implicit extension, a global - economy. His argument hinges on characterising businesses as open systems and economies as closed systems, and the body of knowledge necessary to understand the latter as significantly more technical and complex than the skills required to prosper in the former.
Krugman's argument is persuasive. This little book - postcard sized, and 55 pages rather than the advertised 64, of which only 50 constitute the article itself - should be required reading for British politicians hypnotised by the rhetoric of charismatic businessmen - and perhaps for businessmen overconfident that mastery of a successful company will give them automatic insight into matters of national finance and economic strategy.
It has to be said that I found the book poor value for money even at the discounted price - it took me less than forty minutes to read. Compare, for example, Penguin's publication of Tyler Cowan's The Great Stagnation: How America Ate All The Low-Hanging Fruit of Modern History,Got Sick, and Will (Eventually) Feel Better:A Penguin eSpecial from Dutton
- similar quality, three times the length yet barely half the price.
My four star rating is therefore a compromise between five stars for content and three for presentation.