Gary North nominates Thomas Sowell:
He applies simple but fundamental concepts of economics to real-world problems, which are often problems that are not widely perceived as being heavily influenced by economic categories.2. He relies exclusively on verbal communications, not graphs or equations, to explain these concepts and their applications. This keeps his expositions firmly within the realm of historical cause and effect.
3. He never begins his economic analyses with this phrase: “Let us assume. . . .” The only time he ever uses “let us assume,” is when it is followed by “for the sake of argument,” which is in preparation for a lambasting of some conventional political assumption.
4. He writes in well-honed English that is the product of over 30 years of writing newspaper columns: clear, precise, and rhetorically persuasive — in short, efficient.
5. He is the most creative economist in our era — or perhaps in any era — in implementing the division of labor in his writing. He hires astoundingly productive research assistants, and then he incorporates their remarkable but diverse discoveries into a single coherent narrative.
6. He is a better historian than he is an economist. Other economists have made observations similar to his. But no other historian matches him in his chosen specialty: economic motivations that have prompted the international migration and subsequent economic successes of modern racial, national, and religious groups.
I like Sowell and generally think well of him, but I lost an amount of respect for him when he resorted to handwaving in response to some errors of Michelle Malkin’s concerning Pearl Harbor. I also find it remarkable that so many figures of the mainstream right originally hail from the Left. Why is it that those who were dumb enough to get it wrong initially are most often hailed as heroes, while those who didn’t are customarily ignored?
I’m not sure who my nominee for the greatest living economist would be, but if I had to choose someone, my first thought would be Steve Keen. I think he is deeply and profoundly wrong on a number of issues, but the work that he has done in exposing the incontrovertible flaws of neoclassical economics is truly remarkable.