Who will win Monday’s Nobel Prize in economic science?

by on October 7, 2017 at 12:07 am in Economics | Permalink

From the WSJ:

Clarivate Analytics, formerly a unit of Thomson Reuters, maintains a list of possible Nobel Prize winners based on research citations. New additions to its list this year were Colin Camerer of the California Institute of Technology and George Loewenstein of Carnegie Mellon University (“for pioneering research in behavioral economics and in neuroeconomics”); Robert Hall of Stanford University (“for his analysis of worker productivity and studies of recessions and unemployment”); and Michael Jensen of Harvard, Stewart Myers of MIT and Raghuram Rajan of the University of Chicago (“for their contributions illuminating the dimensions of decisions in corporate finance”).

Dozens of additional names appear on Clarivate’s list of possible future economics winners, including prominent figures on the American economics scene like Stanford’s John Taylor, a monetary-policy scholar who President Donald Trump is said to be considering for Federal Reserve chairman; Paul Romer of New York University, an expert on economic growth and the chief economist at the World Bank; Martin Feldstein of Harvard, who was chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan and has studied pensions, taxation and other topics in public finance; William Nordhaus of Yale University, who has studied climate change; Dale Jorgenson of Harvard, who has studied productivity; Robert Barro of Harvard, who has researched economic growth; Oliver Blanchard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the former top economist at the International Monetary Fund; and Richard Thaler of the University of Chicago, who has studied behavioral economics.

Former Fed chairman Ben Bernanke’s name has been floated in the past, given his academic work on the Great Depression, and his longtime collaborator Mark Gertler of NYU appears on the Clarivate list.  So does Richard Posner, the recently retired federal judge who has written on the intersection of law and economics.

I’ve never once been right, but this year I’ll predict William Nordhaus (“Green Accounting”) and Martin Weitzman (climate change and economics of risk).

1 Enrique October 7, 2017 at 12:15 am

Since “economics” is such a broad field, I nominate Eliezer Yudkowsky.

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2 GoneWithTheWind October 7, 2017 at 11:10 am

The Nobel prize has become so political that it is worse than meaningless. It is more like the Oscars and just an indicator of what a handful of people’s biases are. But I’ll play the game and my guess is that Obama will win it.

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3 blah October 8, 2017 at 1:19 am

Awesome. Finally a candidate who is at least slightly deserving.

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4 drive-by commenter October 8, 2017 at 10:14 pm

such is the self-importance of internet pseudo-intellectual communities, that they think anyone else cares about their champions.

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5 Ray Lopez October 7, 2017 at 12:30 am

Every year the Nobel Committee likes to set a “theme”, be it collective action (Elinor Ostrom) or behavioral economics (that Jewish couple) or RBS / historical economics (Nordhaus? doing this from memory…Oh, I see Nordhaus has not won and is a climate guy…hmm it’s Prescott). What is this year’s theme? For the Peace Prize, it was an anti-Trump “No Nukes” message. For economics, what? TC is saying “global warming” is the theme, which also would nominate Nordhaus. That’s a good guess I guess too. I will nominate “Robert Hall” because I never heard of him outside of physics (“Hall Effect”) and he’s suitably obscure so not to raise any hackles, unlike the more political people like Feldstein et al.

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6 edgar October 7, 2017 at 12:35 am

Hernando de Soto

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7 Dick the Butcher October 7, 2017 at 2:30 pm

I would have nominated Hernan Cortez, but he’s been dead for over 400 years.

My back-up choice is Bozo the Clown.

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8 Larry Siegel October 8, 2017 at 5:14 pm

De Soto is great but not well known. The WSJ list was good; my favorite from that list is Barro and maybe Posner, but I think the Nobel committee will go with a more “relevant” choice such as Nordhaus.

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9 Yancey Ward October 7, 2017 at 12:37 am

Who will win the Nobel Prize for Sociology?

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10 skeptic tank October 7, 2017 at 12:40 am

“economic science”? you are joking, right?

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11 Dick the Butcher October 7, 2017 at 2:42 pm

To paraphrase Dr. Sheldon Cooper, “I have no respect for the field.”

But, that is too harsh.

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12 Martin October 7, 2017 at 12:55 am

There is no such thing as a Nobel Prize in economics. The economics prize was created by Sweden’s Central Bank in 1969 and is called the “Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.” It was not established by Nobel, but supposedly in memory of Nobel. It was done completely against the wishes of the Nobel family.

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13 msgkings October 7, 2017 at 1:05 am

Here’s what I love about this guy. This poster ‘Martin’ shows up every year for Tyler’s Nobel post, and says this exact same thing. And he never posts again for another year. Mad props.

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14 Al October 7, 2017 at 1:49 am

That is dang amazing.

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15 Charlie October 7, 2017 at 1:57 am

Like clockwork. Gotta admire the commitment.

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16 carlospln October 7, 2017 at 1:58 am

And yet the resident Thought Police are relentless in pushing this Fake News up your backside.

Every fucking year.

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17 ChrisA October 7, 2017 at 2:48 am

Might be a bot?

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18 Larry Siegel October 8, 2017 at 5:16 pm

And every year I say that if the Nobel family didn’t like the prize, they would take it off their foundation’s website http://www.nobelprize.org.

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19 dearieme October 7, 2017 at 6:08 am

Call it, for short, the Counterfeit Nobel Prize.

What about the two prizes that are genuine but lame?

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20 Matt October 7, 2017 at 6:16 am

What about the two prizes that are genuine but lame?

Physiology and Chemistry? They are at least inaptly distributed these days (it would be better to have one in biology, shift part of chemistry to that and part to physics, and have one in something like “logic, mathematics, and computer science”, for sure) but in practice, this doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem.

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21 Borjigid October 7, 2017 at 10:30 am

Post of the year.

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22 msgkings October 7, 2017 at 11:44 am

It’s his only post of the year, every year

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23 Borjigid October 7, 2017 at 9:39 pm

Did you actually go back and check? That’s fantastic.

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24 Paul October 7, 2017 at 4:05 pm

If there were a Nobel prize for consistency you’d get it.

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25 jhon lee October 10, 2017 at 1:10 pm

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26 prior_test3 October 7, 2017 at 12:55 am

The Posts’s way of forrmulating of what will be awarded on Monday seemed quite accurate – ‘An award in economics in memory of Alfred Nobel (which is not one of the original Nobel Prizes) will be announced Monday.’ Bit long for a post tittle, of course.

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27 Barkley Rosser October 7, 2017 at 1:07 am

Bob Subrick at JMU agrees with you, Tyler, and I can see the argument. Enviro has never gotten it, except indirectly through people like Ostrom. It is due. And we know that the Royal Academy sometimes does make political statements. The prize for Buchanan, which Asser Lindbek had said would be given over his dead body, was given while he still lived at least partly as a protest against the wild deficit spending of the Reagan administration. There have been other instances.

There is no doubt that Swedes in general do not like Trump and are also firmly of the view that global warming is a real thing. While Obama was admired by about 85% of the population when he stepped down, Trump is admired by about 5% of the population, possibly the largest drop of support among any of the nations on earth for the US president as he changed. Mexico is more anti-Trump at only 3% supporting him, but they only supported Obama at a 49% rate.

So, how to stick it to president that the overwhelming majority of Swedes absolutely loathe and whom they are seriously upset about regarding his views on global climate, which they take very seriously? Well, this may well be the year finally for Nordhaus and Weitzman, and maybe another to go along with them, although that set of possibles for that third is fairly large.

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28 Bill October 7, 2017 at 9:00 am

Perhaps Karl Goran Maler to go along with Weitzman and Nordhaus.

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29 Jonathan Falk October 7, 2017 at 1:12 pm

I’d go with Nicholas Stern to go with Nordhaus and Weitzman.

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30 TMC October 7, 2017 at 3:14 pm

So Nordhaus and Weitzman get a million dollar hissy fit prize. Good for them.

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31 Fabrizio Ghisellini October 7, 2017 at 3:41 am

Clarivate Analytics forgets one minor detail:it is not always the case that the Nobel prize in Economics goes to professional economists. Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist, won some 15 years ago.So the prize could well go to Gerd Gigerenzer ( psychologist with the Max Planck Institute in Berlin) for his seminal discoveries in behavioral decision making through the use of heuristics!

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32 Martin Van Buren October 7, 2017 at 4:08 am

There is no such thing as a Nobel Prize in creation-science. The creation-science prize was created by Sweden’s Central Bank in 1969 and is called the “Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Creation-Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.” It was not established by Nobel, but supposedly in memory of Nobel. It was done completely against the wishes of the Nobel family.

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33 prior_test3 October 7, 2017 at 5:24 am

The problem with this attempt is the fact that while there actually is a Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, awarded annually to great fanfare if not exactly great accuracy,.most notably on the part of those associated with the economics profession, there is no “Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Creation-Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.”

The part about Martin’s comment appearing like clockwork is a much more fruitful subject, at least among loyal readers, of whom Martin seems to be in the first rank. Especially as every year, Martin is simply highlighting what is actually written on the awarded medal – ‘Sveriges Riksbank till Alfred Nobels Minne 1968’ https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economic-sciences/medal.html

Compared to the prize seemingly the most important in Nobel’s own eyes, which is inscribed ‘Pro pace et fraternitate gentium’ with “Prix Nobel de la Paix”, the relevant year, and the name of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate [..] engraved on the edge of the medal.’ https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/peace/medal.html

Given enough time, and enough lessening in public scorning of the economic profession’s pretensions, who knows, maybe future economic sciences award winners won’t have to pretend about winning a Nobel prize, but instead can proudly show their awarded medal in public without it clearly showing its non-Nobel nature.

The odd thing is that in the physical sciences, accuracy in using objective terms is considered a basic requirement. In the economic sciences, this is not demonstrably not true, demonstrated annually by broad swathes of the economics profession.

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34 Hiding with Heidigger October 7, 2017 at 6:31 am

“The odd thing is that in the physical sciences, accuracy in using objective terms is considered a basic requirement. In the meta-physical sciences, this is not demonstrably not true, demonstrated annually by broad swathes of the metaphysics profession.”

Come now, can you really name a single metaphysician who doesn’t speak in the clearest, most succinct language? Bet you Kant!

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35 Matt October 7, 2017 at 6:22 am

The idea of giving the prize to Posner seems very weak to me. He was modestly creative (but not more than that) in his application of other people’s work to a new area (law). Even there, it was more that he was amazingly industrious and that he fit well with the zeitgeist of the early 80s than that he was a particularly original thinker. He has no really new contributions to economics at all. (His understanding is at a fairly elementary level, an he then relentlessly applied that to a number of topics for several years.) It would be a bit like giving the prize in literature to Michael Crichton, or the prize in physics to a popularizer like Lawrence Krauss.

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36 Art Deco October 7, 2017 at 9:44 am

Some employer of his ca. 1960 thought him a ‘genius’. From a distance, he seems more like an Andrew Greeley-style graphomaniac. Greeley went through his life as if he were in a never-ending manic phase.

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37 A Truth Seeker October 7, 2017 at 6:41 am

I would suggest Mr. Meirelles, the designer of Mr. Temer’s reforms, the Brazilian perestroika. He was an important baker, led the biggest protein producing company in the world and made more than 70 million dollars in consulting fees in 2016.

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38 Rafael R October 7, 2017 at 1:42 pm

[+1] “Brazilian perestroika” lol

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39 Ted Craig October 7, 2017 at 8:06 am

Two people I am convinced are never going to collect a prize in Sweden: Robert Barro and Philip Roth.

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40 godfree Roberts October 7, 2017 at 8:14 am

As usual,names of the only successful economists, all Chinese of course, do not appear on anyone’s shortlists.

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41 A Truth Seeker October 7, 2017 at 8:41 am

Kissinger and Arafat tot he contrary, I don’t think they give Nobel Prizes for harvesting prisoners’ organs, murdering dissidents, crushing Tibet and supporting North Korea.

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42 Rafael R October 7, 2017 at 1:44 pm

How about Niel Wallace?

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43 middle aged veterinarian October 7, 2017 at 1:47 pm

If if is not an economist it might be Mark Granovetter. I would bet on Emmanuel Saez or Phillipe Akhion if a message is being sent and it is not Nordhaus.

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44 Oskar Sigvardsson October 7, 2017 at 2:10 pm

I wouldn’t rule out Thomas Piketty.

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45 Attila Smith October 7, 2017 at 2:46 pm

Being a pessimist, I fear this is a real possibility.
Since Piketty is a pretentious holier than thou pontificating socialist I suppose the Sveriges Riksbank Committee must think it would be very progressive and chic to award him the prize.
Here is an article where he explains why Macron’s decision to suppress the “Solidarity Tax on Wealth” in France (ISF = Impôt de Solidarité sur la Fortune) is a “grave moral, economic and political fault” (“une lourde faute morale, économique et politique”)
http://www.huffingtonpost.fr/2017/10/07/la-suppression-de-lisf-une-lourde-faute-morale-economique-et-historique-juge-thomas-piketty_a_23235827/
Great ecomists are recognized by their “moral and political” judgments, surely.
As an aside, I think the the photograph in the linked article is quite revealing: Evolution has had millions of years to make Homo Sapiens quite good at reading faces.

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46 Paul October 7, 2017 at 4:09 pm

I predict Piketty.

Given this blog’s track record that’s a good as putting a curse on him.

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47 Attila Smith October 7, 2017 at 4:38 pm

Thanks for the curse err… prediction, Paul!

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48 Paul October 10, 2017 at 2:11 am

It’s Monday. It’s Thaler. It worked.
And MR predictions still have a perfect record of failure.

49 econ_history October 7, 2017 at 8:12 pm

Every year I bet Joel Mokyr, in part because people always forget about economic history when talking about possible winners.

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50 Cyril Morong October 8, 2017 at 6:41 pm

It is the last story in the article

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/the-odd-truth-aug-2-2005/

Manure Theft
SALEM, Mass. – A Harvard economics professor is in some deep doo-doo, for stealing a truck-load of manure. A judge has ordered Martin Weitzman to pay a horse farmer $600 for the droppings and contribute $300 to the Boy Scouts. Had Weitzman bought the manure, he would have paid just 35 bucks. But it could have been a lot worse for the professor. The judge dismissed charges of larceny, trespassing and destruction of property.

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51 Merijn Knibbe October 9, 2017 at 6:15 am

One of the problems with (macro-)economics is the rift between measurement (which takes place in statistical insitutes and central banks) and academics. The prizes have to be awarded to individuals and Chemistry, Physics and physiology/medicine prizes are awarded for measurement related activities. https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/lists/year/?year=2017 Awarding the prize to an individual economic statistician is however tricky, as work at the statistical institutes is often of a very collective nature. But the activities of the ILO (labor statistics) the fed and other central banks (Flow of Funds) or even some academic groups (the database behind this Mir/Storm article which show that once global imports are taken into account there is no decoupling between GDP and CO2 production) are worthy of the prize. Let’s recognize this and award the prize to the bean counters.

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