Friday , October 23 2020

Nobel guess

Summary:
Covid has really hurt the annual Nobel Prize gossip in economics circles. Here's my guess: Claudia Goldin and Tom Sowell. The last several decades have been amazingly productive in economics. There are dozens of economists who have made Nobel-worthy contributions, and the committee has a hard job sorting through just who should get it and when. Among ...

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Covid has really hurt the annual Nobel Prize gossip in economics circles. Here's my guess: Claudia Goldin and Tom Sowell. 

The last several decades have been amazingly productive in economics. There are dozens of economists who have made Nobel-worthy contributions, and the committee has a hard job sorting through just who should get it and when. 

Among these, who has superb, scholarly, innovative research, on issues that everyone cares about at the moment  (as well as on other important issues), demonstrating the power of economics to address important problems, and happens to embody some of the diversity everyone recognizes is missing in our profession? Claudia Goldin and Tom Sowell. 

Sure, their research comes up with uncomfortable answers. That's what good research should do. 

I will surely be wrong. I have yet to correctly predict a Nobel!    

Update:

Tyler Cowen  guesses Card and coauthors. Remember, this is a Keynesian beauty contest. 

Tyler brings up the good question of the value of the Nobel Prize. My answer: Reputation. The prize is respected only if people think they make good picks. That doesn't mean obvious picks, it means ideally innovative picks that stand the test of time. The value of Peace and Literature prizes has certainly fallen for this reason -- they are too obviously making political and other points.  (The peace prize in particular should come with a stipulation, this person has not killed or ordered the killing of another human being.) The value of many other prizes is lower as their awards so clearly follow fashion of the day rather than reward serious work. 

I'm sure the economics committee is intensely aware of the extent the prize is scrutinized, and how much its value and reputation depend on how well they do their job. 

Update 2: 

As forecast, I was wrong. Congratulations to Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson. And to the committee.  This is a natural prize, and refreshingly normal. In these strained times, normal is courageous.  



John H. Cochrane
In real life I'm a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution at Stanford. I was formerly a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. I'm also an adjunct scholar of the Cato Institute. I'm not really grumpy by the way!

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