< Back to front page Text size +

Greg Mankiw: too big to fail?

Posted by Christopher Shea  May 15, 2009 11:57 AM

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

Harvard's Greg Mankiw is the reigning king of the introductory-economics-textbook market, a fact he isn't shy about reminding readers of on his blog. And unlike some other professors with prominent books, he is not in the least abashed about assigning his book as mandatory reading and collecting the royalties from those assignments. (A number of Harvard professors who assign their own books donate that income to charity.)

Mankiw has also pointed out that, as in many other business sectors, the position of the market leader is a precarious one: "Any day now," he has written, "someone could come along with a better textbook and put me out of business."

The Atlantic's Conor Clarke was reminded of Mankiw's comment when he learned that a couple of other prominent econ-bloggers, Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok, of George Mason, are unveiling their own principles-of-economics textbook. Cowen and Taborrok say that their book will distinguish itself from others by placing special emphasis on the importance of economic growth to human well-being.

Mankiw responded to Clarke's friendly jab thusly:

I am not worried. I am one of the economics profession's leading producers of textbooks, I have an extensive network of dealers (aka professors), and I have friends in high places (Larry Summers, Christy Romer). So doesn't all this make me precisely the kind of too-big-and-too-interconnected-to-fail plutocrat that, if push comes to shove, will get a government bailout?

"If you doubt me," added the leader in textbook market share, "let me point out that my initials are GM."

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

E-mail this article

Invalid E-mail address
Invalid E-mail address

Sending your article

About brainiac Brainiac is the daily blog of the Globe's Sunday Ideas section, covering news and delights from the worlds of art, science, literature, history, design, and more. You can follow us on Twitter @GlobeIdeas.
Brainiac blogger Kevin Hartnett is a writer in Columbia, South Carolina. He can be reached here.

Leon Neyfakh is the staff writer for Ideas. Amanda Katz is the deputy Ideas editor. Stephen Heuser is the Ideas editor.

Guest blogger Simon Waxman is Managing Editor of Boston Review and has written for WBUR, Alternet, McSweeney's, Jacobin, and others.

Guest blogger Elizabeth Manus is a writer living in New York City. She has been a book review editor at the Boston Phoenix, and a columnist for The New York Observer and Metro.

Guest blogger Sarah Laskow is a freelance writer and editor in New York City. She edits Smithsonian's SmartNews blog and has contributed to Salon, Good, The American Prospect, Bloomberg News, and other publications.

Guest blogger Joshua Glenn is a Boston-based writer, publisher, and freelance semiotician. He was the original Brainiac blogger, and is currently editor of the blog HiLobrow, publisher of a series of Radium Age science fiction novels, and co-author/co-editor of several books, including the story collection "Significant Objects" and the kids' field guide to life "Unbored."

Guest blogger Ruth Graham is a freelance journalist in New Hampshire, and a frequent Ideas contributor. She is a former features editor for the New York Sun, and has written for publications including Slate and the Wall Street Journal.

Joshua Rothman is a graduate student and Teaching Fellow in the Harvard English department, and an Instructor in Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He teaches novels and political writing.


Browse this blog

by category