Who are the best economists without a Nobel Prize?

by on April 13, 2010 at 9:59 am in Economics | Permalink

Bob T., a loyal MR reader, asks:

Who are the best economists who did not win the Nobel Prize since its inception until today, e.g., Alchian, Tullock, Tiebout(?), and Barro?

I'll add Albert Hirschman and Anthony Downs to that list.  Who else?  Kevin Murphy is a tremendous economist, qua economist, although he doesn't fit the traditional Nobel mold.

1 DC April 13, 2010 at 10:13 am

John Taylor

2 mwc April 13, 2010 at 10:19 am

Fischer Black

3 LL April 13, 2010 at 10:21 am

Bryan Caplan

4 B.B. April 13, 2010 at 10:34 am

Harold Demsetz

Dale Jorgenson

Robert Hall

Arnold Harberger (politics is blocking him, IMHO)

Eugene Fama

William Nordhaus

Martin Feldstein

5 R. Pointer April 13, 2010 at 10:46 am

The more I read Downs the more impressed I am.

But damn, Hirshman’s slim ELV could be the most elegant explanation of social action I have ever read.

6 mgunn April 13, 2010 at 10:49 am

Eugene Fama

7 Greg April 13, 2010 at 10:50 am

Eugene Fama and John Taylor come to mind.

If you want to go outside the ordinary realm of economics, Richard Posner has probably had more practical influence than anyone I can think of.

8 LC April 13, 2010 at 11:02 am

I’d say Eugene Fama, as someone before, and add to the list Stewart Myers, Thomas Sargent, Christopher Sims, Lars Hansen.

9 Craig April 13, 2010 at 11:12 am

How about Armen Alchain?

10 SM April 13, 2010 at 11:24 am

David Galenson
Joel Waldfogel
Claudia Goldin
Thomas Holmes
Clayne Pope

11 Yancey Ward April 13, 2010 at 11:43 am

Ok, Cynic wins the thread.

12 matt April 13, 2010 at 11:53 am

no love for John List?

13 lefty April 13, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Samuel Bowles

14 Commenterlein April 13, 2010 at 12:08 pm

Michael Jensen. But then I expect him to get it soon.

15 Greg Ransom April 13, 2010 at 12:14 pm

Israel Kirzner, Axel Leijonhufvud, Robert Higgs, Philip Mirowski, William White, Roger Garrison, and Bruce Caldwell.

16 tom April 13, 2010 at 12:21 pm

Anna Schwartz
Leland Yeager
Don Patinkin

17 James Daniel Miller April 13, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Richard Posner

18 Dan G April 13, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Paul Romer.

19 Ben April 13, 2010 at 12:58 pm

Oliver Hart
Gene Fama

20 Scott Wood April 13, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Isn’t Aaron Director considered the founder of Law and Economics? I would have thought that that warranted a prize. Perhaps alongside Posner, who has not done his intellectual legacy any good with his latest book.

21 Ian Leslie April 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm
22 Nate R April 13, 2010 at 1:27 pm


23 Paul Johnson April 13, 2010 at 1:36 pm

Angus Maddison

24 Finley April 13, 2010 at 1:44 pm

“no economists have a nobel prize, just tokens of banker appreciation”

Actually, Muhammad Yunus has one.

25 Brad April 13, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Sendhil Mullainathan

26 Student April 13, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Sam Peltzman

27 izzy April 13, 2010 at 2:41 pm

Why Lars Peter Hansen of course.

28 POWinCA April 13, 2010 at 2:45 pm

The prize desciption specifically mentions those who have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind? Why is everyone naming academic economists whose theories arguably help no one? Why aren’t corporate financial economists, government policy economists, and policy makers included? Who has produced real-world economic results inextricably and inarguably tied to their actions or policies? The Grameen Bank and George Marshall have received peace prizes for this.

Augusto Pinochet did more to help a national economy than any pencil-necked geek in academia. Reagan, Clinton, Thatcher, could have a claim. How about the leaders of economic transitions in Eastern Europe or China for that matter?

Such people invite controversy, but there’s no lack of that for the peace prize. I’m not really proposing any names in particular – just expanding the choice set. Which nonacademics deserve the prize and why?

World Bank? IMF? Some ministry of finance or a sovereign wealth fund?

29 Gabriel E April 13, 2010 at 2:53 pm

Who are the worst?

I’d say there are too many economists with Nobel prizes.

Who’s prize ought to be taken away?

30 Barkley Rosser April 13, 2010 at 3:02 pm

It should be kept in mind that only the living can get it. It has already been noted that
Tiebout and Robinson missed their chances. This is true of quite a few others named, including
(I think, at least, going backwards) A. Smith, Olson, Keynes, Director, Mises, Morgenstern,
Prebisch, Patinkin, Scitovsky, Shackle, Kaldor, Marschak, Griliches, Black. Sorry about that.

31 bombshell April 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm

JA List then Acemoglu

32 Rodo April 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Jean-Jacques Laffont??

33 bartman April 13, 2010 at 4:40 pm

Romer, Varian, Joskow?

I think Robert Wilson also deserves a sniff, but that’s mostly because I read a bunch of his stuff on auctions of divisible goods for my dissertation. One of his papers had only three references – two to his own work, and one to Vickrey. Brilliance!

34 Juan Carlos April 13, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Paul Romer!!!!!!!!!! C’mon he revolutionized the study of economic growth!!

35 claude April 13, 2010 at 5:47 pm


36 Yancey Ward April 13, 2010 at 6:27 pm

Actually a commenter above asks a better question. Who, in retrospect, should have to give it back?

37 ed April 13, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Demsetz !

38 em April 13, 2010 at 7:44 pm

everyone knows it is Zvi Grilliches

39 DG Lesvic April 13, 2010 at 7:55 pm

Are you people kidding?

How can you even think of anyone but Ludwig von Mises? Not only is he the best economist of the 20th Century, but, even the second best is but a distant second.

As for the best right now, Don Boudreux, the best polemicist, and Richard Ebeling, the best all around teacher. Don’t miss his great new book, Political Economy, Public Policy and Monetary Economics/Ludwig von Mises and the Austrian Tradition. It’s a lot of money, $128 from Amazon, but worth every penny, and a must read for anyone serious about the subject.

As for the rest of those people, you pick out the best, tell me what his great contribution was, and I’ll tell you what was wrong with it.

40 Hans Orifice April 13, 2010 at 8:15 pm

Eddie van Halen.

41 john April 13, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Shleifer, Acemoglu, Alesina, (List later)

42 malcolm April 13, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Yes. Sadly Laffont is dead — but the question didn’t specify living economists which is why the Joan Robinson answer was a classic response.

43 Christian April 13, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Hirschman / Baumol
Hirofumi Uzawa
C. Kindleberger / P. Temin / Eichengreen
Roger Farmer

44 Thomas Esmond Knox April 14, 2010 at 2:41 am

William Baumol.

45 bag April 14, 2010 at 4:35 am

Isn’t Aaron Director considered the founder of Law and Economics? I would have thought that that warranted a prize.

Thanks a lot.

46 Georges April 14, 2010 at 7:06 am

Hirschman and Baumol

47 rsg April 14, 2010 at 10:16 am

Does anyone here remotely entertain the idea that we are “scraping the barrel” as far as contribution to economics is concerned? The contributions to the field by Prescott, Krugman, Kydland, are not even a shade of those by the likes of Arrow, Samuelson and Nash. Why not stop giving this out altogether? At the very least, how abt a moratorium on the prize till someone really makes a worthy contribution to the subject?

48 Dave Backus April 14, 2010 at 10:37 am

Tom Sargent
Lars Hansen
Chris Sims
Ariel Pakes
Al Roth
Rob Porter
Daron Acemoglu
Paul Milgrom

49 tm April 14, 2010 at 11:30 am

Charles Plott

50 tom April 14, 2010 at 12:50 pm

Barkley Rosser,

Knight, Viner, Johnson, Patinkin, Robinson were all living at the time the first Nobel Prize for Economics was awarded. They were therefore eligible to be recipients. The original question was: who was the best economist never awarded the prize from the time of its inception to the present? That no female economist received the prize when so many were deserving is scandalous.

51 eM April 14, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Jean Tirole

52 Thomas April 14, 2010 at 9:53 pm

Malcolm–so does Schelling’s winning a prize prove that G-d exists?

53 Staufer April 14, 2010 at 11:39 pm

I vote for Jagdish Bhagwati.
Fischer Black deserves scorn, not a nobel, and Scholes and Merton should give theirs back and retire. Nassim Taleb has shown conclusively how awful their contribution has been – not just useless, but positively harmful.

54 mconover April 15, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Fama – the efficient markets hypothesis is the main paradigm in the investments world. It doesn’t matter that there are exceptions to it. 70% of professional managers still underperform the S&P 500.

55 Phil April 16, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Has Mankiw signed on here to post his own name yet?

56 kaz April 18, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Armen Alchain
Thomas Sowell

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