This morning, the 2008 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel was awarded to Princeton economist Paul Krugman "for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity." The award was bestowed for his academic work — which many have suggested was Nobel-worthy for some time — not his political commentary, though the latter may have played a role. "Krugman is not only a scientist but also an opinion maker," commented one member of the prize committee. Early NYT coverage is here.
UPDATE: I just reread the post and want to make clear that I believe Krugman's Nobel is well-deserved. He is clearly among the most important economists of his generation. My suggestion that his political commentary may have been a factor was not meant to disparage his accomplishment. It was a reaction to the quote in wire story cited above. That said, I will confess some dread at the prospect of hearing "according to Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman . . . " every time someone quotes one of his NYT columns on political issues.
UPDATE: Tyler Cowen discusses the award and Krugman's work here.