A Prospect article announcing the results explains that Johnson topped the list because his “ideas are well grounded in theory, but he has also done more than any academic to popularize his case: writing articles, a must-read blog, and appearing tirelessly on television.” It also noted Johnson’s position as an economist at the Peterson Institute in Washington, D.C. and former role as IMF chief economist. His essay, “The Quiet Coup,” in the Atlantic’s May 2009 issue was cited as “one of the great polemical essays of the crisis.”
An expert on financial and economic crises, Johnson is the Ronald A. Kurtz Professor of Entrepreneurship at MIT Sloan and a co-founder of BaselineScenario.com, a web site on the global economy. He also is a member of the Congressional Budget Office’s Panel of Economic Advisors. Johnson regularly appears on NPR’s Planet Money podcast, is a weekly contributor to the NYT.com’s Economix, and has a video blog on the New Republic’s web site. In addition, he is co-director of the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) project on Africa and president of the Association for Comparative Economic Studies.
Prospect is based in the U.K. and covers current affairs and cultural debates. Its list of the top 25 public intellectuals of 2009 appears in the January 2010 issue. Other individuals on the list include Ben Bernanke, chair of the Federal Reserve, Andrew Haldane, director of the Bank of England, and Zhou Xiaochuan, head of the Bank of China.