Saturday 10 October 2009


Our Department holds an esteem-only Nobel sweeps each year. Last year, my three guesses were
  • Dixit/Krugman trade
  • Alchian/Demsetz micro
  • Tullock/Krueger rent-seeking
I was half right. But, as nobody else had Krugman even joint, I won the sweeps. This year is tougher. Last year just felt like a trade year and I had an itch that they were going to give it to Krugman.

This year, I'd expect them to stay away from macro/finance unless there were an obvious big name from 20 years ago who laid out the mechanisms explaining what's currently going on. I don't know of any.

So my picks for this year
  • Weitzman/Nordhaus/Grossman (Gene) for environmental
  • Alchian/Demsetz micro
  • Tullock/Krueger rent-seeking

Yeah, the first one is a bit of a cheat since they'll only award to two. But I'd reckon decent odds on an environmental pick in a year where economists are otherwise taking a beating. Last one is always my dark horse. Odds are slim to none, but Tullock very much deserves it. I haven't put any money on it over at InTrade -- no liquidity over there, and it isn't exactly the kind of market where we expect prediction markets to do well.

In other Nobel news, fun reactions to the Obama Peace Prize:
  • Gans
    Basically, the Nobel Prize Committee are awarding the US people for their choice and what it means. In terms of symbolic moves, that seems pretty appropriate even if it is not what we usually expect.

  • Kevin Grier
    Here's Kevin Grier wondering whether an Obama prize will make it harder for Obama to pursue an aggressive foreign policy. Maybe we aren't giving the prize committee enough credit: maybe they aren't giving him a medal to wear, but an albatross. Are they hoping that this will render politically unsaleable a lot of possible foreign policy options that would be unbecoming of a Nobel Peace Prize winner?

  • Mankiw (seriously hilarious)
    The surprise choice of first-year graduate student Quintus Pfuffnick for the Nobel Prize in Economics drew praise from much of the world Friday even as many pointed out the youthful economist has not yet published anything in scholarly journals.

  • Fafblog
    n other news, the Nobel Prize for Literature was awarded to a man who set fire to a library and then promised to write a book about it.

  • Cheryl Cline
    I, unlike many others, did not come to the mistaken conclusion that it was merely an Onion story.

  • Art Carden hoping that Kanye attends the Nobel awards ceremony.

  • Patri Friedman
    It's so ridiculous and ludicrous that it seems like something that would be done as a parody by The Onion, or by the anti-Obama people who point out (with some truth, I think) that he is an empty vessel of empty words that people project their own hopes onto. His policies since entering office have been more of the same old same old - warmongering, anti-civil liberties, plus a dash of expanded federal spending and power.

...And the nays have it.

Update: I've seen a few folks calling a Fama/French/Thaler prize for behavioral finance. But Kahneman got it with Smith in '02, so it might be tough for Thaler to still be in the running. I'd still expect them to steer clear of finance this year, and especially efficient markets folks. Hey, I'd think it very cool if they decided to go with an EMH prize to Fama this year of all years, and Fama is odds-on in some markets. I'd still be surprised.


  1. Alchian is dead and you have to be alive at the time of the announcement to get the prize.

    I’ll go with the theory of the firm and bet on Williamson/Hart/Holmstrom.

  2. My picks in the Dept. pool were

    1. Weitzman (probably joint with Nordhaus)
    2. Deaton (maybe joint with Hausman?)
    3. Williamson (probably joint with Hart)

  3. Doh! Serves me right for copying me picks from prior years without checking obits.