He is by far the #1 guy in his field; the only thing slowing him down is the fact that Fed chairmanship does not grant him dictatorial powers: his job consists to a large extent of convincing lesser scholars as well as pure nonacademics (some of whom are adamant deficit hawks) on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors and the Federal Open Market Committee to see things his way. I can't imagine anyone else doing such a great job at this (past Fed chairs have done some shady shit to circumvent this democratic process).
I feel strongly that judging Friedman based on his writings is unfair for the reason that he is not here today to tell us how the events leading up to the 2008 crisis would have affected his views. I would therefore contrast a group of his intellectual followers who call themselves Market Monetarists with those more obviously on Krugman's side of the political spectrum. Between these two, it's really a matter of political preference which one you prefer -- the economics is more or less the same.Tell me something, how do you feel about Friedman ?
I think the best progressive besides Krugman is by far Matt Yglesias (currently on Slate, but his earlier writings on ThinkProgress were better and more precisely about politics and economics (the huge archive is still online)). Also, I'm currently doing everything in my power to learn to like Robert Frank, but honestly, I'm struggling (I think the libertarian David Friedman [Milton's son] demolished him in their long exchange that begins here).Of the current crop of economic columnists, like Krugman, who do you like ?
As for libertarians and conservatives, the hottest guy right now is Scott Sumner (important links to his views: 1 2 3); last year he convinced Krugman to change his views (shift right) on a very important issue; and everyone he links to in his blog (including Tyler Cowen and aforementioned Yglesias) are brilliant.
Ask me any time for more suggestions.