Arnold Kling  

Nobel Prize Speculation

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Various economics blogs, such as Division of Labour, are speculating on candidates for this year's Nobel Prize in economics.

One thing I've noticed is that the winners tend to be people with concepts named after them. Coase theorem. Nash equilibrium. Black-Scholes pricing model. Granger causality. It seems like you're better off with one brand-name contribution than with a bunch of less-famous papers.

By that standard, William Baumol seems to me to have an edge. "Baumol's cost disease" fits the pattern of a concept with a brand name. Also, Baumol has a number of other contributions to the topics of economic growth and imperfect competition, which are deserving of more recognition.

UPDATE: another economist who gets a lot of speculative attention is Robert Barro. His recent work with Rachel McCleary on religion and economic growth is discussed in this New York Times article.

For Discussion. Which other economists who are under consideration have brand-name concepts going for them?

COMMENTS (9 to date)
John S Bolton writes:

Here is an odd nomination; Weinstein and Davis for the solutions of Ricardo's equation for the case of immigration, and where one of the countries has much higher productivity than the others involved. It seems monmentous, in that this was not done during the 100+ years that the problem was open. How many basic questions of economics have had no one claiming territory on them for that long? If I've evaluated this incorrectly, could it be briefly explained why one might believe so?

Michael Stastny writes:

1. Barro Regressions [= Growth Regressions]
2. Hodrick-Prescott Filter [= Whittaker filter]

My take: Conditional on the fact that Granger and Engle won the Nobel Prize last year, Fama has no chance of winning the prize this year.

Mungowitz writes:

Yep, Barro, or Prescott, in that order, as most likely.

And as for Fama: Doesn't help that Merton and Scholes won in 1997, either.

Anyway: Barro has to be the front-runner.

Lawrance George Lux writes:

Have a bias against Robert Barro, thinking McCleary does most of the grunt work. Though the movie was great, I did not think much of Nash either. I will only come out and say: anyone but Bhagwati. lgl

Carlos Rodríguez Braun writes:

On the question of economists and names, please see:
Julio Segura and Carlos Rodríguez Braun (eds.)
An Eponymous Dictionary of Economics
Edward Elgar, 2004, forthcoming.

C.Rodríguez Braun

Kevin Brancato writes:

Gordon Tullock:

The Tullock rectangle is the cost of rent-seeking.

Chris R writes:

Conditional on the fact that this is a US presidential election year, I think that the probability of someone perceived as a supporter of the president getting the Nobel is close to zero. Hence Barro, Prescott, and Fama will probably have to wait. Especially Barro.

My take has Krugman and Bhagwati getting it for much the same reason that Carter got a Nobel. Or someone else from an older generation, such as Phelps or Baumol. Taylor and Sargent would be dark-horse candidates. We haven't had a Macro Nobel in five years; we seem due. Black & Scholes were in 1997 which is a while ago, so that might work in Fama's favor.

So many choices!

rick writes:
My take has Krugman and Bhagwati getting it for much the same reason that Carter got a Nobel

Come off it. Krugman has contributed enough to win on merit without any help from anti-Bush Scandanavians.

Chris writes:

I agree, but the current political climate would provide extra motivation for this sort of selection.

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