David R. Henderson  

A Nobel Prediction

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I have my wishes about who will win the Nobel Prize in Economics on Monday. But I always distinguish between what I want and what I expect.

I have never predicted the Nobel accurately, after trying for over 20 years. Even when I've got it right, e.g., Gary Becker, I got the year wrong.

So this isn't a prediction about a particular economist. It's a prediction about a kind of economist or kind of economic research.

One of the Nobel committee members in 2008 said that one reason to award it to Paul Krugman that year was to "kick George W. Bush in the leg." (I might not have the quote quite accurate, because I'm hurrying off to class, but that was the gist.)

I have little doubt that most, and probably all, committee members want Hillary Clinton to beat Donald Trump and are understandably concerned about Trump (although, in my view, not concerned enough about Clinton.) For that reason I predict that they will award the Prize to an economist or economists who are on the opposite side of some important issue(s) from Trump. So I predict it will be someone who is easily identifiable with Hillary Clinton (Larry Summers, for example) or who is an outspoken advocate of carbon taxes (William Nordhaus, for example.) However, one slight possibility: it could be a strong advocate of free trade: I think Jagadish Bhagwati is overdue. The problem, from the committee's viewpoint, is that although that would stiff arm Trump, it wouldn't exactly be a ringing endorsement of Clinton. On the other hand, maybe the committee would rather implicitly endorse a policy than implicitly endorse a candidate.

UPDATE: Andy Wood provides the exact quote below. And it wasn't about Krugman's Nobel; it was about Jimmy Carter's.


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CATEGORIES: Incentives




COMMENTS (16 to date)
Effem writes:

Good observation. Gotta love the "intellectual honesty" practiced by our elites.

Charlie writes:

I hope you will come back and post the accurate quote. The only reference I could find to the quote: "kick George W. Bush in the leg" is to this blog post.

Frankly, I'm pretty surprised you would put quotes around something you suspected to be inaccurate. This seems to be exactly the kind of thing that drives you crazy. Why not wait til after class and get it right?

RSF writes:

Well, he didn't attribute it to an actual person. I don't see the big deal about an exact quote.

Andy Wood writes:

I found this with Google:

Jimmy Carter, the former US president, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday in what the chief judge said was a deliberate snub for President Bush over his war plans for Iraq.

"It is clear that with the position that Carter has adopted in the question of Iraq, [it] must be seen as a criticism of the policy that the current US administration has adopted in relation to Iraq," said Gunnar Berge, the Norwegian committee chairman.

When asked if the award to Mr Carter, 78, was a "kick in the leg" for Mr Bush, Mr Berge replied: "Yes, the answer is an unconditional yes."

A "kick in the leg" is the Norwegian equivalent of a "slap in the face".

David R. Henderson writes:

@Andy Wood,
Thanks for researching it and putting it here.
@RSF,
Exactly.

Geoffrey Layton writes:

What about Deirdre McCloskey?

don bumpass writes:

just to clarify the date of the Nobel Peace prize:

CNN.com - Jimmy Carter wins Nobel Peace Prize - Oct. 11, 2002

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002 to Jimmy Carter, for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to ...

http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/europe/10/11/carter.nobel/index.html?_s=PM:WORLD

Ken McKenna writes:

The Nobel Prize in economics and the committee that confers it are absolutely identified in the public mind with the leftist globalist elites against whom Brexit, Trump and assorted anti-free-trade and anti-immigration forces have been rebelling ... with increasing success. It's by no means clear to me that awarding that Prize in a form construed as endorsing Clinton would be a lift for her prospects. Not at all. Of course the Nobel Committee has not exactly distinguished itself as sensitive to American political sentiments and nuances. So who knows what they'll do?

Capt. J Parker writes:

Dr. Henderson said:

The problem, from the committee's viewpoint, is that although that would stiff arm Trump, it wouldn't exactly be a ringing endorsement of Clinton.

And the other problem that ought to be from the committee's point of view is that picking recipients of the Economics Nobel based on politics wouldn't be a ringing endorsement of the stature of economics as a social "science"

BTW: Summers will never get the Nobel and he certainly won't get it if the committees criteria is to boost the chances of having the first female POTUS - not after Summer's non-PC gaff about the under-representation of female scientists at elite universities may be stemming in part from “innate" differences between men and women.

Mr. Econotarian writes:

Open Border enthusiast perhaps? That would be on the opposite side of Turmp...

David Seltzer writes:

Look at John H. Cochrane's body of work. Consumption based asset pricing, a rigorous alternative to CAPM.

Josiah writes:

Traditionally it's been the Peace Prize that's been used to send political messages, not the Econ Nobel (which is selected by a different group of people). You could still be right, though.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Josiah,
Traditionally it's been the Peace Prize that's been used to send political messages, not the Econ Nobel (which is selected by a different group of people). You could still be right, though.
Good point, and that, combined with Andy Wood’s point above, tells me that I’m likely wrong about motivation.

Pithlord writes:

You should apologize to Krugman. No one doubts the Peace Prize is political. But you basically said he only got the Economics Prize for political reasons. I don't care whether you like Krugman or not -- that just isn't right. It's not as if they haven't awarded it to people you agree with.

David R. Henderson writes:

@Pithlord,
You should apologize to Krugman. No one doubts the Peace Prize is political. But you basically said he only got the Economics Prize for political reasons.
You should read more carefully. I did not say that.
And in case you’re willing to read, you can read what I actually did say in pointing out what Krugman accomplished to win the Nobel prize. I wrote the WSJ piece on it in October 2008. Hoover reprinted it here.
I also wrote this piece that covers some of the same ground. For some reason, they dated it April rather than October.

Emerich writes:

The Nobel for economics has just been announced. If past years are a guide, professional economists will think up reasons why the recipients are deserving choices (they are, after all, now very influential colleagues). While I have little doubt that Hart and Holmstrom are good, perhaps very good economists, I'll say: the Nobel committee needs some professional counselling. I mean, by professional economists of course. Yes, I know, the candidates get nominations from past winners, etc. etc... But of all living economists, have these two really contributed the most insight into economic processes and mechanisms above all other economists in recent decades? Or is the Nobel committee too insular?

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