Bluff The Listener

  • Playlist
  • Download
  • Embed
    <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Our panelists tell three unlikely scenarios where someone yelled "I want (Paul) Krugman!"

CARL KASELL: From NPR and WBEZ Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!, the NPR news quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing his week with Luke Burbank, Amy Dickinson and P.J. O'Rourke. And here again is your host at the Chase Bank Auditorium in downtown Chicago, Peter Sagal.



Thank you, Carl. Right now, it's time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! Bluff the listener game. Call 1-888-WAIT-WAIT to play our game on air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

MORGAN GEER: Hello. This is Morgan Geer from Asheville, North Carolina.

SAGAL: Asheville, one of my favorite places. We love Asheville. What do you do there?

GEER: I'm a musician in a band called Drunken Prayer.


AMY DICKINSON: Oh, I have those.

GEER: Yeah, me too.

SAGAL: Well, welcome to the show, Morgan. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Morgan's topic?

KASELL: I want Paul Krugman.

SAGAL: Until this week, I think we could safely say no one has ever uttered that phrase in reference to economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. This week we read about a situation where someone very much might say I want Krugman. Guess the true story, and you'll win Carl Kasell's voice on your home answering machine or voice mail. You ready to play?

GEER: Oh man, yes.

SAGAL: OK, first let's hear from Luke Burbank.

LUKE BURBANK: It was sad news in the world of economics last week when Nobel Prize-winner Dale Mortensen passed away. Aside from family and close colleagues, the person most devastated by his death was likely a guy in Maine named Finley Edwards(ph). Why? Well, because Dale Mortensen was the star of Edwards' fantasy economics team.

The Ideas Fantasy Economics League allows econ geeks to put together a virtual economics department using real economists who score points through citations, number of downloads and other metrics. Think fantasy football with somehow, incredibly, even less sex appeal.


BURBANK: Well, unless dudes yelling I want Krugman gets you hot and bothered for some reason. With wacky nicknames like Zero Marginal Product, Solo Strikers and University of Atlanta, some 200-or-so teams have taken part in the league. Unshockingly, the teams are mostly run by other academics and economists.

But however esoteric, the league does seem to be making stars out of these economists, at least in their own minds. One of them reportedly took to Twitter boasting that he was trading higher than another scholar who happened to be one of his major ideological opponents. Oh no you didn't fail to account for the effective arbitrage pricing theory, Dr. Patel.



SAGAL: Economist fantasy league where people pick out their favorite economist to go head to head. Your next story of someone going crazy for Krugman comes from Amy Dickinson.

DICKINSON: This week, the DEA released a list of new lethal drugs, known by their street names. Cops say the most dangerous class of drugs is being controlled by a cartel run by a disaffected former newspaper journalist who was downsized in 2009 when his department went digital.

Sergeant Norbert Shickel(ph) read the list of street drugs, all named for New York Times columnist. So beware of Nicholas Kristof Meth, Thomas Freebase Friedman, Maurecstasy Dowd. All of these are potentially lethal if ingested, but the most dangerous, known as Very Special K, can induce a sleeplike state from which users may never awaken.

Cops say if you walk past an alley and hear someone shouting I want Krugman, Krugman, just say no to that currency exchange. The result could be permanent.


SAGAL: A new breed of street drugs all named by New York Times columnists. And your last story of Krugmania comes from P.J. O'Rourke.

P.J. O'ROURKE: Well, according to the online Journal of Economic Humor, and yes there is an online journal of economic humor, a joke making the rounds among economists - and don't expect this to be funny, it's a joke making the rounds among economists. To get the joke you have to understand that economist Paul Krugman is known for advocating a fiscal policy of large expansion.

So why are economists the only people in the world who know what women want? Because they asked Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen, and she said I want Krugman. Like I said, it's a joke making the rounds among economists.


SAGAL: That's - I guess it really is the dismal science, PJ.

DICKINSON: She was Yellen for Krugman if I...

O'ROURKE: Yes, she was.

SAGAL: All right, here are your choices. From Luke Burbank, an economist fantasy league where people pick their favorite economists, compete based on their economy successes, whatever that is. From Amy Dickinson, a new line of street drugs, one of which, the most powerful of which, is named for the eminent Princeton professor and Nobel Prize-winner. And from P.J. O'Rourke a really terrible joke making the rounds of economists, who probably say that's very amusing. Which of these is the real story of a desire for Krugman in the news?

GEER: It's just so nerdy, it's got to be one or three. The joke is terrible.


GEER: But I'm going to go with Luke Burbank.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Luke Burbank's story of the fantasy economist league.


SAGAL: Well, to find out the true theory, we went right to the source.

CHRISTIAN ZIMMERMANN: In a baseball fantasy league, you have statistics that allow you to score batters and pitchers and fantasy teams. And this is what we do with economists.



SAGAL: That was Christian Zimmermann, the creator of the fantasy economist league. And right now, baseball fantasy player and football fantasy players are sitting around their radios and going what a ridiculous waste of time. Congratulations, you you got it right. You earned a point for Luke. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Thank you so much for playing with us, and we'll see you in Asheville soon, I hope.

GEER: Thank you, thank you, Luke.

BURBANK: Bye-bye

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from