Sunday, January 1, 2012

Top Economists of 2011

(Here are the Top Economists of 2012)

Comparing economists is a bit like comparing apples and oranges.  There is so much diversity in the topics that they approach, and different approaches that they take.  Still, it can be quite fun even if ultimately meaningless.

I started entering all the living economists names that I could think of into Google Trends to see who is the most searched for name at Google in 2011.  I think it's an interesting addition to the ways of ranking economists because it shows searches and general awareness.  Here are the results:

Paul Krugman (photo: Cory Doctorow)

rank. name, affiliation (relative percent to top score, ranking last year)

1.   Paul Krugman, Princeton University (100%, 1)
2.   Manmohan Singh, India (85%, 2)
3.   Mario Draghi, European Central Bank (60%, NR)
4.   Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Board (46%, 3)
5.   Amartya Sen, Harvard University (34%, 4)
6.   Gloria Arroyo (30%, 16)
7.   Alan Greenspan (26%, 5)
7.   Nouriel Roubini, New York University (26%, 7)
9.   Robert Reich, University of California - Berkeley (24%, NR)
9.   Thomas Sowell, Hoover Institute (24%, 6)

9.   Joseph Stiglitz, Columbia University (24%, 8)
9.   Walter Williams, George Mason University (24%, 9)
13. Mario Monti, Italy (20%, NR)
14. Justin Lin, World Bank (18%, 10)
14. Lawrence Summers, Harvard University (18%, 30)
16. Simon Johnson, M.I.T. (16%, 12)
16. Jeffrey Sachs, Columbia University (16%, 12)
18. Robert Lucas, University of Chicago (14%, 30)
19. Peter Diamond, M.I.T. (12%, 20)
19. David Friedman, Santa Clara University (12%, NR)
19. Mervyn King, Bank of England (12%, 12)
19. Robert Merton, M.I.T. (12%, 16)
23. Brad DeLong, University of California, Berkeley (10%, 12)
23. Robert Shiller, Yale University (10%, 16)
25. Gary Becker, University of Chicago (8%, 20)
25. Tyler Cowen, George Mason University (8%, 20)
25. Steven Levitt, University of Chicago (8%, 26)
25. Greg Mankiw, Harvard University (8%, 16)
29. Elinor Ostrom, Indiana University / Arizona State University (6%, 20)
29. Michael Spence, Hoover Institute (6%, 30)

A number of economists were withdrawn because they were not their top Google search.  The best example of this is John B. Taylor of Stanford University who also shares the same name with a former NFL player and a member of rock group Duran Duran.  Others include, Robert Hall, Robert Lawrence, Peter Phillips, James Hamilton, Kevin Murphy, and James Robinson.

EDIT: As a commenter noticed, Robert Merton is now at M.I.T. and I switched that.  I appreciate everyone adding new economists that I did not think of, this can be considered my selection bias.  I'll leave them in the comments this year, but I will make sure to include them in my calculations next year.  Please keep them coming.


  1. Nice list! A note of each economist's philosophical slant (Keynesian, Austrian, Martian) would be a nice improvement for those of us not in the know...

  2. Robert Merton is now at MIT, FYI.

  3. To understand just how completely Economics is missing the boat see Richard Wilkinson's The Spirit Level, or his ted video referenced below.
    But then the distribution has always been the Big Taboo in Economics (relegated to token Marxists and Berserkly types).

    How else could Economics so staunchly defend the status quo, so reliably, decade after decade?

    "Monetary policy" and "fiscal policy" are a joke.


  4. Anonymous @ 3:33,
    It's hard. Some like Bernanke aren't Austrians, but they aren't Keynes-ian either. They just do whatever benefits the big banks, the economy as a whole be damned.

  5. Anonymous @ 3:33,

    It is difficult to peg individual economists in certain schools. For instance, wikipedia, has many current and former economists labeled as Austrian, Keynesian, Neo-Keynesian, etc. But some of those make very strange bedfellows. Kenneth Rogoff and Paul Krugman are both considered "New Keynesian", but clearly there is quite a bit of disagreement between them. Here's a set of video clips of them debating:

  6. I tried correlating popularity with age:

    Apparently they reach their prime in the 60's. Interestingly nobody on the list is below 45.

  7. Scott Summer is missing as #17 (15%)

  8. Raghuram Rajan (10%)

  9. Dean Baker comes in as high as #23 (10%)

  10. Joseph,
    Did you include Bill McBride of Calculated Risk? In some tabulations I've seen, Calculated Risk comes in as the #2 Econ Blog.

  11. Looks like becoming a Prime Minister, or other head of government, is quite helpful in boosting your profile.

  12. Nice job, showing an alternative way to rank the economists. Your article went viral on Ritholz's Big Picture. Congratulations!

    As an about to be newly minted economist, be forewarned of the religion that exists in economics. Should you go to grad school, make sure to take lots of math--all the folks on your list are pretty much applied mathmaticians, but take that with a grain of salt too. I have been working these mines a long time. Visit for a chagrined common sense view of the discipline. Even with the profession at an all time low as shown in the movie "Inside Job," I love the subject matter, and hope it continues to stir the juices in folks like you to come up with solutions to today's problems. We need young bright minds with fresh ideas challenging the orthodoxy more than ever in economics. I suspect you are on your way just by your blog. Godspeed.

  13. Can someone please post a link to all the economist blogs or past articles? RSS feed for google reader would be great.
    As an example

  14. Gloria Arroyo is hardly an economist. She's a politician and that's more likely the reason why she ranks high on Google searches.
    Otherwise, good list!

  15. I suspect if the individual is a Macroeconomist/Financial Economist they seem to have a slight edge;that is what the press is fixated upon and rightly so. Guys like Holmstrom,Myerson and Maskin will never be on such a list :)