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Paul Krugman MasterClass Review: Economics and Society

Check out our honest review of Paul Krugman’s MasterClass and discover more about its format, content, highlights, and drawbacks.

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Paul Krugman Teaches Economics and Society MasterClass: Our Verdict (2024)


4.6 / 5

In his MasterClass, Paul Krugman explains basic economic concepts and sheds light on crucial elements and perspectives that shape our society. Krugman is a Nobel-prize winner and a famed economist, and his ability to recognize what’s truly important is what makes this class beneficial to anyone who wants to learn more about the world we live in.


  • Learning from a famous economist
  • Useful knowledge
  • Helpful graphics
  • Good structure


  • Focused on the US economy

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As a writer, I was never really drawn to economics or business MasterClasses… And that’s why I wanted to take Paul Krugman’s class in the first place.

The MasterClass platform offers a wonderful opportunity to get out of your learning comfort zone and acquire valuable skills that aren’t necessarily relevant to your work.

Although, that’s not entirely true. In a way, all of these skills can be relevant.

For instance, learning about economics can help you understand people and society on a different level, and that fresh perspective is exactly what I hoped Krugman’s class would provide me with.

Now, did the class meet my expectations, or is it geared toward those who are already familiar with complex economic theories?

Let’s find out.

Table of Contents

What is the Paul Krugman MasterClass?

Paul Krugman Teaches Economics and Society” is an online course offered by MasterClass, a popular learning platform known for its team of well-known instructors.

The course is taught by Paul Krugman, a Nobel-prize-winning economist and a Distinguished Professor of Economics at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is also an author, editor, and columnist, writing on a wide range of economic issues such as income distribution, taxation, international economics, and macroeconomics.

Krugman considers himself a modern liberal, and such viewpoints are visible throughout his online course. He dedicated his MasterClass to important economic theories and principles that can help you analyze events and issues and, therefore, allow you to approach them more critically.

That said, the course is suitable for aspiring economists and policymakers as well as anyone who wants to expand their knowledge and learn from one of the best experts in the field.

The course contains 22 video lessons with a duration of 3 hours and 56 minutes.

Paul Krugman speaking in his MasterClass

Who is Paul Krugman?

Paul Krugman is an American economist, author, and professor. He has held professorships at MIT, Princeton, the London School of Economics, and New York University.

Krugman is also a New York Times Opinion columnist, writing about macroeconomics, trade, health care, social policy, and politics. As an author and editor, he has worked on 27 books, including scholarly works and textbooks, and has published over 200 articles in professional journals.

He is one of the founders of the ‘new trade theory,’ a major rethinking of the theory of international trade for which he received the John Bates Clark Medal.

In 2008, he also won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, which strengthened his status as one of the world’s most acclaimed economists.

Who is Paul Krugman’s MasterClass for?

I’ll be short and direct here: this MasterClass is for everyone.

Or at least it should be.

Of course, some people are interested in economics and systems that drive our world less than others, and that’s completely fine. I am, actually, one of those people.

But anyone can spare a couple of hours to learn about the challenges of our society and the strategies to check for the accuracy of data and information. Considering the information overload we face on a daily basis, I think this is more important than ever.

Paul’s teaching style is accessible, so even though some previous knowledge of the economic theories would be an advantage, it’s not necessary. If you’re interested and focused, you will be able to follow his lessons without hassle.

What does Paul Krugman's MasterClass cover?

I’ll be honest with you – I really needed this MasterClass. And as I just explained, I think everybody does.

Paul Krugman’s MasterClass provides a fascinating look at the economic theories and events that drive history and affect the state of our society. He breaks down basic economic concepts and presents new ideas, with a strong focus on the US economy.

He talks about trade, globalization, taxation, and private health care. Importantly, he teaches how to approach these topics with a critical mind. He wants you to challenge your own assumptions and become an active, enlightened citizen.

You should, however, bear in mind that this class was filmed before Covid, so it doesn’t include the aftermath of the pandemic.

In terms of content, here is what you can expect from each lesson:

  • Lesson 1 is an introductory lesson where Paul introduces himself and the course.
  • Lesson 2 answers the ultimate question – what is economics? – from Paul’s perspective.
  • Lesson 3 breaks down two fundamental principles of economics: 1) people respond to incentives, and 2) each transaction has an equal give and take.
  • Lesson 4 tackles major developments in economic thought through the theories of Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes.
  • Lesson 5  explores how the Federal Reserve works to keep the economy healthy.
  • Lesson 6 is focused on the Great Depression and the market patterns and unregulated financial activities that led to it.
  • Lesson 7 delves deeper into the 2008 crisis. Paul connects it to the economic theory of crises and compares it to Japan’s 1988 crash.
  • Lesson 8 deals with deficit spending and potential solutions to crises.
  • Lessons 9-10 are focused on inequality. Paul talks about the growing income gap and the social and cultural costs of our inequality.
  • Lesson 11 is focused on the American Tax Plan and the data behind ‘supply side’ taxation.
  • Lesson 12 explains the economics of technological progress.
  • Lessons 13-14 deal with the advantages and disadvantages of different health care systems.
  • Lesson 15 covers the New Trade theory, Paul’s Nobel-Prize winning idea.
  • Lessons 16-18 tackle globalization, China’s rapid economic growth, and economic geography.
  • Lessons 19-20 show how to read and interpret developing economic issues. Paul also explains his critical thinking methodology and teaches how to use the information you have at your disposal.
  • Lesson 21 is focused on writing economy. Paul uses his column “Myths of Austerity” as an example.
  • Lesson 22 is the final lesson where Paul shares his final thoughts and advice for aspiring activists and policy makers.

My favorite parts of Paul Krugman’s MasterClass

Each lesson has something interesting and useful to offer, and here are some of the chapters I particularly liked.

What is economics

Paul Krugman speaking in his MasterClass
Paul Krugman discussing what economics is actually about

You need to start at the beginning. This lesson introduced me to Paul Krugman’s definition of economics. For Paul, economics is always about people and what people do, despite the common belief that it’s about money.

He also pointed out that economics studies good times as well as bad ones and that there’s no guarantee that the economy will produce a fair or just distribution of income.

In any case, it’s important to separate what you want to be true from what appears to be true.

Major developments of economic thought

Paul Krugman speaking in his MasterClass
Paul on rethinking Say’s law

In this insightful chapter, Paul talks about the birth of modern economic thought, Adam Smith and the redefinition of wealth, and the rethinking of Say’s law.

One of the key takeaways is that you have to understand the past to improve the future. History is still your best guide, says Paul, even though it can’t give you all of the answers. “History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes.”

Reading economics

Paul Krugman speaking in his MasterClass
Yo-Yo Ma reminding us that we are the architects of our lives

This incredibly useful chapter covers tools and tips for reading and interpreting developing economic issues.

Paul shared some specific sources and platforms that help him stay informed and explained how to read these or similar sources skeptically. He also provided tips on how to spot bad facts and avoid certain writers.

How much does the MasterClass cost?

MasterClass is a subscription-based learning platform, so it’s not possible to purchase courses individually. If you want to take this MasterClass, you have to become a subscriber.

The standard annual plan has been renamed "Plus" and is available at $120 a year (which makes it $10 per month, billed annually), and now provides access to all MasterClass courses on two devices instead of one. The Premium plan, providing access for up to six devices costs $240 per year.

A MasterClass subscription gives you unlimited access to a catalog of 200+ classes, so if you want to take multiple classes throughout the year, the subscription is definitely worth it, and there are pleny of interesting courses on related topics to explore.

Also, the platform offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee, so if you’re not happy with your learning experience, you can request a full refund.

Note that the "Standard" membership, priced at $72 per year, only gives you access to their short-form learning content – none of their full MasterClasses are included.

What I liked about Paul Krugman’s MasterClass

Paul’s class comes with many benefits for economists and non-economists alike.

Here are some of the aspects of this course I particularly liked.

Learning from a famous economist

Needless to say, Paul Krugman is a master of his craft. But he is also a perfect choice for this course. A prominent economist with decades of experience, a commentator with a critical mind, and an educator with a warm, accessible teaching style. 

Useful knowledge

Paul’s class is educational and useful, covering a variety of relevant topics and stories that can help you understand the difficult mechanisms of our society.

Paul encourages critical thinking and skeptical reading, which are important for any line of work. It’s, in fact, important for well-informed citizens who have minds of their own.

If we want to change the world we live in, we first have to learn it. And the current state of affairs certainly indicates that the world does need some changes.

Helpful graphics

The video lessons also contain helpful animated charts and graphics that clarify some of Paul’s explanations.

Good structure

The course covers a lot of ground, but thanks to its good structure and pacing it’s fluid and easy to follow.

The introduction sets the tone for the whole course and covers the basics, the middle gets more demanding and informational, while the conclusion leaves room for thinking methodologies and encouraging final thoughts.

Drawbacks of Paul Krugman’s MasterClass

There are, however, certain things that could be a disadvantage for some learners.

Focused on the US economy

In his course, Paul often considers the economy in the US, especially when he talked about taxes and health care. And a non-American learner like me found some of these parts a bit tedious.

There are lessons about globalization, the rapid economic growth of China, and other stories from different parts of the world, but the course is still heavily focused on the US.

Review conclusion: Is Paul Krugman’s MasterClass worth it?

As a non-American learner and someone who has no education in economics, I found Paul Krugman’s MasterClass somewhat challenging.

However, Paul is an amazing teacher who knows how to present complex ideas in an accessible way.

That said, I would recommend this course to anyone who wants to learn more about important economic concepts and issues, regardless of previous knowledge and experience.

More knowledgeable learners and students would find this class interesting, too, since Paul shares his unique viewpoints and breaks down his own New Trade theory.

In any case, if you’re interested in the topic, learning from a Nobel-prize-winning economist is a chance you can’t miss. And even if you aren’t that fond of the topic, taking this class would help you see the world around you in a different way. It would help you understand, and it would ultimately make you a more aware, active citizen.

So, all things considered, I think Paul Krugman’s class is definitely worth taking, especially if you’re already subscribed to MasterClass.