Krugman on Interstellar Trade

Following up from requests last week, Paul Krugman gave me permission to scan and post his paper “A Theory of Interstellar Trade” (1978). Click here to download.

7 thoughts on “Krugman on Interstellar Trade”

  1. That’s great stuff to brighten the day – I’d never have seen this if you hadn’t scanned it. Thank you!

    I think I need to write something in which to reference to it now.


  2. I was intrigued to see that Krugman’s research on interstellar trade was ‘supported by a grant from the Committee to Re-Elect William Proxmire’. So I looked at Proxmire’s Wikipedia entry. Turns out he was a long-serving US Senator (1957-1989). The Wikipedia entry noted that:

    Proxmire was famous for issuing his Golden Fleece Awards identifying wasteful government spending between 1975 and 1988. The first one was awarded in 1975 to the National Science Foundation for funding an $84,000 study on why people fall in love. Other Golden Fleece awards over the years were “awarded” to the Justice Department for conducting a study on why prisoners wanted to get out of jail, the National Institute of Mental Health to study a Peruvian brothel (“The researchers said they made repeated visits in the interests of accuracy,” reported the New York Times), and the Federal Aviation Administration, for studying “the physical measurements of 432 airline stewardesses, paying special attention to the ‘length of the buttocks.’”

    Kind of ironic that he opposed spending on frivolous research, but used re-election committee money to support Krugman writing a paper on interstellar trade. I guess he was at least spending money that was intended for him, rather than government money.


  3. STT: Krugman was having a little joke.

    Proxmire was instrumental in killing off the Apollo program prematurely.

    The trouble was that it saved bugger-all money (most of the hardware for three more missions was already paid for).

    Furthermore, the upshot was the Space Shuttle program and the ISS, which has cost similarly ridiculous amounts of money, without the compensation of achieving anything much useful.


  4. Where on earth did you get the paper from?

    Also: Robin Hanson should definitely try to get a book on this stuff published (as per the link on previous post). If there’s one thing I’ve learned from the Internets, it’s that there are a lot of sci fi obsessed social scientists out there. Might have to write in a more populist style (ie less equations) than a serious econ paper, but could be good.


  5. In 1993, I was Paul Krugman’s TA. I heard about the paper then and he gave me a copy. Lucky I kept it; I threw pretty much everything else paper out a couple of months ago when I moved office.


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