Who will win the economics Nobel Prize this year?

by on October 10, 2015 at 6:31 am in Current Affairs, Economics, History | Permalink

Diane Coyle mentions some possible picks:

Environmental economics: Partha Dasgupta, William Nordhaus

Update: Twitter folks strongly recommend adding Martin Weitzman in this category.

Growth: Paul Romer, Robert Barro

Inequality: Anthony Atkinson, Angus Deaton

Innovation (and much else): Will Baumol (now 93!)

Econometrics: David Hendry

All good guesses.  I’ll add Diamond and Dybvig for banking, and possibly an early grant to Banerjee, Duflo, and Kremer for development and RCTs.  That would make economics look scientific, for a year at least.  I expect Bernanke, Woodford, and Svensson to get a prize as well for monetary economics, although probably not right now.  It is too close to Bernanke’s memoir and Svensson’s tenure at the Swedish central bank.

Here is a WSJ list.  What do you think?  Since I’ve never once been right about a particular year, trying to pick someone would only curse them.  The award will come this Monday of course.

1 bob October 10, 2015 at 6:48 am

Diamond won it already in 2010

2 Economist October 10, 2015 at 9:07 am
3 bob October 10, 2015 at 10:31 am

I never realized there were two diamonds.

4 Matt T October 10, 2015 at 6:57 pm

That just means DeBeers is doing a good job.

5 Rahul October 11, 2015 at 8:28 am

Isn’t DeBeers supposed to restrict supply?

6 Søren Kerndrup October 10, 2015 at 6:51 am

Behavioral economics had a growing influence inside economics and outside in governments, global institutions. Can indicate one more prize going to Richard Thaler together with …..
Otherwise it must be time for Paul Romer for his contribution to understanding and modeling growth. His work was exceptional and only succeded because he was able to set up the right questions and following these through use of Math – not seeking any easy solution by just making reference to accepted knowledge

7 Enrico October 10, 2015 at 7:14 am

Thaler together with Ernst Fehr and ??, showing that the economics profession is more left-wing than it used to be

8 Gochujang October 10, 2015 at 11:47 am

Misbehaving does not read as left wing at all … unless you mean human nature is somewhere left of the economic ideal, in which case


9 The usual suspect October 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm

Fehr? Very unlikely (I hope). More likely Rabin.

10 RSaunders October 10, 2015 at 7:35 am

Rooting for Arrow to get a second.

11 Rahul October 11, 2015 at 8:22 am

Anyone but Banerjee / Duflo. They need an over-hyped economist of the decade award.

12 rayward October 10, 2015 at 7:43 am

Growth and Inequality: For sure, global trade has spurred enormous economic growth in the developing world and lifted a billion people out of poverty, only to be followed by rising inequality and, with it, financial, economic, and social instability. Is rising inequality the inevitable byproduct of growth? My point is that it makes little sense to separate growth and inequality, as if they are unrelated. Robert Barro, defender of property rights and free markets, makes a very good case for focusing on growth above all else, but he all but ignores the reality of excessive, and increasing, inequality that has resulted. Of course, Barro is engaging in adversarial economics, presenting only one side, the side he favors, on the assumption that his adversaries, those concerned about inequality, will do the same. I’m a lawyer so I’m naturally sympathetic to Barro’s (and his adversaries’) approach, but neither deserves a prize in economics; in advocacy perhaps, but not economics.

13 Mutatis mutandis October 10, 2015 at 8:22 am

@Bob : Peter Diamond won it in 2010. Douglas Diamond is the one in Diamond and Dybvig.
How to interpret Romer’s buzz on mathiness? Will it help or will it ruin his chance?

14 Trimegistus October 10, 2015 at 8:27 am

Given the Nobel Committee’s recent track record, it’ll go to the person with the most melanin or the most extreme anti-Israel views.

15 prior_approval October 10, 2015 at 9:18 am

Thankfully, you didn’t mention the lack of a Y chromosome, though it would be just about as accurate as your other two criteria.

16 Bjorn October 10, 2015 at 9:56 am

Don’t fret, Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (RSAS) membership is only 10% female.

Of course there are many other longstanding controversies about that nominal Nobel economics prize.

Nobel Prizes generally are supposed to be awarded to “those who … shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”. That is a noble Nobel criteria rarely met in award practice, especially in the economics category. Economics prize now usually goes to analysts of obscure theoretical economic models.

Nomination and voting process for Nobel Economics is not even close to being fair and open. Unsolicited nominations for the prize are prohibited. The 21 members of the RSAS Ninth Class (Social Sciences division) make the final choice in October. RSAS membership is closely controlled and ideologically incestuous (what flavor economic and political ideology would you guess a bunch of Swedish social sciences academics would favor?),

17 Art Deco October 10, 2015 at 11:49 am

Nobel Prizes generally are supposed to be awarded to “those who … shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind”. –

Can we eliminate the Peace Prize? The modal recipient is a functionary of some wheel-spinning international agency, (or the agency itself) and has been from the very beginning. When they get creative, they get even more obnoxious (see Rigoberta Menchu, Yasir Arafat, Le Duc Tho, &c) or descend into sheer silliness (Bernard Lown & pen pals, Albert Gore, Barack Obama).

18 Barkley Rosser October 10, 2015 at 4:37 pm

There have been plenty of joke peace prizes,but the one this year is not too bad. Jumping the shark here, “Art.”

19 Art Deco October 10, 2015 at 4:59 pm

You mean and award to some political club which is merely non-objectionable makes decades of awards to apparatchiks and clowns all good? I can see the students at Madison have been getting their money’s worth.

20 Barkley Rosser October 11, 2015 at 9:01 pm

“Art,” the quartet is not just some “political club” made up of “clowns” and “apparatchiks.” You really need to grow up, or better yet, stop sticking your head out of your mouth.

21 Thiago Ribeiro October 10, 2015 at 12:02 pm

“realizable estate shall be dealt with in the following way: the capital, invested in safe securities by my executors, shall constitute a fund, the interest on which shall be annually distributed in the form of prizes to those who, during the PRECEDING YEAR, shall have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind. ” (emphasis mine)
People had to take liberties with the proccess since day 1.

22 Art Deco October 10, 2015 at 5:00 pm

Which is why the estate should be liquidated and distributed to his great-great-grandchildren. The whole exercise is a political farce.

23 Rahul October 11, 2015 at 8:24 am

Male guilt?

24 Lion of the Judah-sphere October 10, 2015 at 8:36 pm

Roland Fryer of course.

25 vmsmith October 11, 2015 at 6:02 am

The Nobel Committee is not involved in the selection. This is not a real Nobel prize. It was established by Sweden’s central bank in the 1960s, not by Alfred Nobel. It’s formal name is the “Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.” To be sure, the winners are selected by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, just as the winners in Chemistry and Physics are, but the Nobel Committee is not involved. My understanding is that it’s not even a prize in economics anymore, but a prize in social sciences.

26 carlolspln October 11, 2015 at 6:51 pm

Its all about the upward mobility, here, Mr. Smith.

This has been thoughtfully pointed out for the proprietors here on multiple occasions.

Apparently the thrill of contiguity with ‘real’ sciences [actual Nobels] is too powerful to resist.

If you don’t believe me, just wait for the 12 October announcement.

27 Economist October 10, 2015 at 8:47 am

Diamond and Dybvig seems like a good guess and Diamond certainly deserves it and is widely respected.
The environmental guys might win because of politics.
I will comment from Mars if RCTs win.

28 Nathan W October 10, 2015 at 8:48 am

Ooooo… many Republicans will certainly agitate about Nobels being a part of an elitist global leftist conspiracy if Weitzman wins.

I particularly like his survey of economists which show their views of long term discount rates. Very simple and illuminating. I can’t easily find a copy of the paper itself, but here’s the abstract: https://ideas.repec.org/p/fth/harver/1843.html

His work is particularly useful in militating for present action to address long term issues, namely climate change.

29 Art Deco October 10, 2015 at 5:02 pm

many Republicans will certainly agitate about Nobels being a part of an elitist global leftist conspiracy if Weitzman wins

Actually, it’s an exercise in Scandinavian vanity, and hardly pretends to be anything else.

30 David R. Henderson October 10, 2015 at 9:47 am

Like Tyler, I have never predicted right either. And so I have given up. Gut feel, though, and I’m not advocating, just predicting: Dick Thaler. If he won it, my WSJ piece would be particularly easy to write.

31 Jack PQ October 10, 2015 at 8:05 pm

Despite his fame, my understanding is that Thaler is an outsider and unlikely to get the prize. Kahneman already got it for behavioral economics (psychology & economics, for the purists). Thaler has documented many anomalies, but Kahneman and Tversky developed theory. Thaler has not coined any key theory or concept, to my knowledge.

32 Diomides Mavroyiannis October 10, 2015 at 10:38 am

Why is Hendry notable? I’ve only seen his autometrics work, anything else?

33 Ryan October 10, 2015 at 10:22 pm

Yes, an odd choice for metrics.

I’d bet on the Yale double header: Peter Phillips and don Andrews.

34 Christian List October 10, 2015 at 11:28 am

Lars Christensen and Scott Sumner for the concept of market monetarism.

35 TuingTest October 10, 2015 at 11:44 am

Who cares?

36 Asher October 10, 2015 at 1:48 pm

Unbelievable that Baumol has not won the prize yet. Given his contribution + his age, he is the most deserving candidate.

37 JW October 13, 2015 at 2:28 pm

I assume that he is not even being considered anymore. If they were going to give him one, why not earlier? Same as Tullock. He will never win.

38 rayward October 10, 2015 at 2:07 pm

Of course, when, not if but when, ngdp targeting is adopted by the Fed, then is there any doubt who deserves the Nobel in economics.

39 dearieme October 10, 2015 at 2:15 pm

Well I think it should go to the leading economics blogger of the day.

40 D October 10, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Holmstrom and Milgrom

41 Attila Smith October 10, 2015 at 3:11 pm

“Since I’ve never once been right about a particular year, trying to pick someone would only curse them”. Dear Tyler: if I sent you some of his nail clippings, would your curses also work on a detestable colleague of mine who might well win a prestigious prize? Needless to say, I don’t believe in Voodoo but I’ve heard it works for non-believers too.

42 Barkley Rosser October 10, 2015 at 4:39 pm

They have sometimes given it to an old guy, sometimes a long with others. Baumol has been the currentl old guy on the list for awhile now, so he is a serious candidate.

Environmental has never gotten it, so this might be the year. I would agree with the WSJ rather than Tyler that Weitzman is more likely than Dasgupta, although the latter is certainly a real possibility. Stern is also, maybe a few others as well, but Nordhaus the clearly most likely for that one.

43 Søren Kerndrup October 11, 2015 at 4:13 am

Agree that environmental economics could be a good choice. It is an important expanding area in economics and one of the most important areas for a prosperous society. More on unsure of the theoretical “inventions”. Most og the invention seems to be on the applying economics to understand the challenges and possible solution. Agree that Nordhaus and Stern will be the candidates here

44 Rahul October 11, 2015 at 8:33 am

Most of the work in Environtal Econ. seems to be rather underwhelming and drudgery though (as compared to other areas of Econ.).

What are some brilliant insights from the area?

45 Adrick October 10, 2015 at 4:49 pm

Allan Drazen

46 William Sjostrom October 10, 2015 at 7:51 pm

The obvious pioneer among the old guys is Arnold Harberger, who largely invented modern cost-benefit analysis and the empirical study of tax incidence. The committee’s decision to date to ignore him ranks up there with ignoring Armen Alchian and Aaron Director.

47 Max October 11, 2015 at 12:14 am

Harberger should also get the Peace Prize for his support and involvement in Pinochet’s dictatorship

48 Bharat Punjabi October 11, 2015 at 10:49 am

Harberger ruined his prospects by supporting Pinochet`s dictatorship

49 Steve Sailer October 10, 2015 at 8:55 pm

I had Angela Merkel down for the Peace Prize, Ta-Nehisi Coates for Literature, and Clock Boy for Physics for inventing the concept of Time to keep everything from happening at once, so I think I’ll sit out this one.

50 Max October 11, 2015 at 12:12 am

Tabarrock for the Tabarrock curve (LOL)

51 Bharat Punjabi October 11, 2015 at 10:48 am

It will go to environment (Nordhaus, Dsagupta) or to Bhagwati

52 Scott Cunningham October 11, 2015 at 11:39 am

Angrist, Card and Krueger.

53 nSdnUgvHtlTBGSa October 11, 2015 at 9:51 pm

anGmVdXjXSnPWmbBWg 3817

54 Larry Siegel October 12, 2015 at 12:28 am

Baumol and Barro. Maybe Harberger. (Just wishful thinking.)

55 Barkley Rosser October 12, 2015 at 4:08 am

If David Warsh gets his wish it will be Holmstrom and Gorton. The former has been on some lists but the latter has not. This would be a surprise award, but I doubt it will be them, perhaps because Holmstrom’s work is too close to Tirole’s, so will have to wait a bit. But, they would not be an unworthy pair of recipients.

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