For more than a year, the bearded man consuming a shrimp salad at an Upper West Side cafe has been a prophet of doom, warning that the economy could slide into a “third depression” unless our leaders come to their senses and follow his advice.

“I felt like a really lonely voice,” says Paul Krugman, an unknotted blue tie draped around his neck. “It’s been really frustrating.” But he keeps hammering away, demanding action in one New York Times column after another, hoping “to establish a counter-narrative against what everyone else is saying.”…

“If certainty were oil, he’d be Saudi Arabia,” says conservative columnist George Will. “He is a Keynesian who believes government knows how to organize everything and should just get on with it. He believes government is dangerously frugal. I don’t think so.”