Krugman in Bangkok(biznews.com) | 20.06.05

As many of you already know, Paul Krugman was in Bangkok last month for some fancy seminar. I opted out, preferring not to be among economics illiterates to whom Prof. Krugman’s only appeals were his reputations as a Bush basher and a supporter of Mahathir Mohamad’s capital control regime (both of which they’d learned about only recently and through hearsay). Besides, the tickets cost a fortune.

Still, I perfunctorily searched “ครุกแมน” to at least find out the topic of discussion, which I did find, and promptly forgot. Instead, what caught my attention was another item that Google turned up — an 18-month-old article from Krungthep Turakij (bangkokbiznews.com) about The Economist magazine’s opinion of the economist Paul Krugman.

Having read the Economist article myself, I knew immediately that the views that the Thai newspaper attributed to the British magazine were quite different from the one it actually held. Now, you’ve been around the internet. You’ve seen a lot of “lost in translation” instances and even more media transgressions. How bad can this one be, right?

Well, see for yourself. The two articles in question are excerpted below. An excerpt from the Economist is followed by a corresponding one (such as it is) from Krungthep Turakij that I translated from Thai for your convenience. For those who’re unfamiliar with my translation, you’re encouraged to read my methodology and philosophy first.

Face Value”, The Economist, November 13, 2003:

The one-handed economist

Paul Krugman and the controversial art of popularising economics

“GIVE me a one-handed economist,” demanded a frustrated American president. “All my economists say, ‘on the one hand…on the other’”. From a mono-manual perspective, at least, Harry Truman would have loved Paul Krugman, an economist who rarely hesitates to take a bold position — even when the subject is himself. In recounting the transformation of his twice-weekly New York Times column from a genial discussion of the “New Economy” into a widely read broadside against the Bush administration, the Princeton professor recently described himself as “a lonely voice of truth in a sea of corruption.”

Krungthep Turakij, November 17, 2003 (Google has a cached version, or alternatively the Thai version of this post — “ครุกแมนมากรุงเทพ(ธุรกิจ)” — contains the excerpts in orginal Thai):

Krugman’s work attacking Bush is considered favorite for Nobel

Economist [magazine] admires Paul Krugman, praising him as a consummate economist, who does not care for [personal] benefits, dares to criticize Bush administration’s policies. [The magazine] is confident the famous academic still has a shot at being favorite [sic] to grab the Nobel Prize in economics in the future.

The Economist, a leading economic magazine in Britain, reports analytically [sic], admiring the courageous thinking of Paul Krugman, a famous American academic and an economist who once vehemently proposed [sic, Krugman was in fact quite tempered] the idea for Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, former Malaysian leader, to use a capital control measure to halt capital outflow and successfully prevent an economic crisis.

The analysis states that Mr. Krugman now has a columnist work in the New York Times, whose content [includes] congenial arguments about the New Economy to wide-ranging criticism about the governing of the administration of President George W. Bush. And Mr. Krugman — an academic from Princeton University — has explained his role as “a lonely voice of truth in a sea of corruption.”

The Economist:

Lyinginponds.com, a website that tracks partisanship among American political columnists, rates Mr Krugman second in the overall partisan slant of his columns, behind only Ann Coulter, a fiercely (and often incoherently) conservative polemicist. As the site documents exhaustively, the vast majority of Mr Krugman’s columns feature attacks on Republicans; almost none criticise Democrats. [Emphasis added.]

Krungthep Turakij:

Economist informs that, from website LYINGINPONDS.COM, which tracks popularity of political columnists in America ranks Mr. Krugman as occupying no. 2, after Ann Coulter, a conservative critic with ferocious polemics. As for Krugman’s columnist works, most attack the Republican Party and almost none attacks the Democratic Party. [Emphasis added.]

The Economist:

A glance through his past columns reveals a growing tendency to attribute all the world’s ills to George Bush. Regarding California’s energy crisis, for example, he berated the Bush administration and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for not imposing price caps sooner—but found no room to mention Bill Clinton, who presided over a similarly inactive FERC for the first part of the crisis, nor to attack California’s then Democratic governor Gray Davis for his disastrous refusal to allow consumer prices to rise. After Mahathir Mohamad, the prime minister of Malaysia, recently gave an anti-Semitic speech, Mr Krugman argued that the Bush administration’s ham-fisted foreign policy had forced Dr Mahathir to make the remarks in order to shore up domestic political support—most unlikely, given that he was about to step down.

Krungthep Turakij:

And in Krugman’s column over the past period, [he] focuses on blaming all the world’s economic ills on George Bush.

For example, in the case of Dr. Mahathir, a former Malaysian leader, giving a speech against the Jews recently, which Mr. Krugman immediately piled on that the Bush administration’s foreign policies have pressured Dr. Mahathir, who was preparing to step down from [his] post, to have to give a speech attacking the United States for hope of political support from the American people.

[Please credit Krungthep Turakij for this paragraph’s all-encompassing weirdness. This is not a botched translation, at least not on my part. –ed.]

The Economist:

He used game theory to argue that, by criticising North Korea but not attacking it, and then going after Iraq instead, Mr Bush is “probably” encouraging North Korea to become a more dangerous nuclear power. This probably did not convince most game theorists. [Emphasis added.]

Krungthep Turakij:

Another interesting example is that Mr. Krugman reads that the situation where the United States criticizes North Korea but does not attack as a movement after finishing with Iraq, and he believes that President Bush has created the illusion of North Korea as a more dangerous nuclear power. [Emphasis added.]

The Economist:

Many of Mr Krugman’s fellow economists, jealous of his celebrity, comfort themselves with the thought that his angry rants have hurt his reputation enough to ensure he will not now win a Nobel prize. They may be kidding themselves. The Nobel committee has not been averse in the past to giving the prize to economists who have achieved popular notoriety, as its awards to Mr Friedman and, more recently, Joseph Stiglitz show. Mr Krugman is probably still in the running.

Krungthep Turakij:

Toward the end, Economist reckons that Mr. Krugman’s fellow economists may take heart from the thought that although Mr. Krugman [has made] name in media circles, he will certainly not win so much as to attain the Nobel Prize. But the fact is that the Nobel committee in the past has awarded the Prize to economists who have succeeded in media circles, like [it] did Mr. Friedman and Joseph Stiglitz.

Therefore, [it] is possible too that Mr. Krugman has a shot at being a candidate who may grab home the Nobel Prize, too.

These last two excerpts appeared at the very end of their respective articles, the Nobel thing being very much an afterthought for The Economist’s columnist. The Krungthep Turakij editor, however, apparently figured he could sell a few more papers by turning that into “considered favorite for Nobel” in the headline. To spice it up some more, the subject of that headline isn’t Prof. Krugman, but his“work attacking Bush”. Hence in the Thai newspaper’s parallel universe, a collection of op-ed pieces — named “The Great Unraveling” by the author but translated as “The Mysterious Conundrum” (“ปมปัญหาแสนลึกลับ”) — is eligible for the Nobel Prize in economics.

Now lest you think Krungthep Turakij is just some small-time newspaper, it is actually the flagship business newspaper of the Nation Group media empire. Its sister English-language daily, The Nation, has been praised — ironically enough — by The Economist as Thailand’s “most outspoken newspaper”.

Unlike largely independent group publications such as, say, the New York Times and the Boston Globe, these Nation outfits are largely interconnected. The Nation’s flamboyant former editor, Suthichai Yoon, writes a column for Krungthep Turakij under the pen name “Black Coffee” (“กาแฟดำ”), appears on Nation Channel, and sits on the board of the parent company. His photo can be found at the top of the advertisement to the right of the article I’ve been skewering, along with that of his brother, Thepchai Yong, who is the Nation Group’s editor (don’t be fooled by the last names, they’re brothers through and through). They were there to tout Kom Chad Luek (“คม ชัด ลึก”), a Nation Channel program which they hosted from which the group’s broadsheet-sized tabloid conveniently derives its name. Now imagine the filth, of which this article about Krugman is but one example, that this 800-pound media gorilla produces day after day. The apples are rotten alright, but so is the barrel.

Shielding myself quite effectively from Nation Group drivels, I’m hardly in the position to fisk or even comment on them for you (this article about Krugman was found by chance, remember?). It would’ve been an impossibly staggering task in any case. You’ll have to protect yourself, if you care to, starting with being extra skeptical of what you read in The Nation and the slavish citations of it by international journalists like Philip Cunningham.

In due course, you’ll graduate to being skeptical of every piece of information from and about Thailand. Always keep in mind that things you take for granted like journalism or even shoddy journalism can have vastly different meanings here.

22:57 ▪ media

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1
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2
Bob 4.06.06

Hello.
baseball-gambling
blackjack-gambling
casino-gambling
football-gambling
gambling-addiction
gambling-poker
internet-gambling
gambling-card
gambling-directory
gambling-game
gambling-links
gambling-schools
gambling-site
gambling-strategy
internet-casino-gambling
roulette-gambling
sports-gambling
virtual-gambling
offshore-gambling
sport-gambling