The call came on the way to breakfast. Nobel laureate and economist Paul Krugman had agreed to chat as he waited to take the stage at HousingWire's REthink symposium even though the media outlet already had time allotted after his speech for an interview.

Perhaps he could be caught off guard before he had a chance to warm up. There was suddenly a new dynamic to meeting someone many see as larger than life. Krugman is a national — make that international — phenomenon. His fans rival any other economist in the space and his following could easily populate a major America city.