Monday, October 10, 2005

And The Winners Are...

by Tom Bozzo

The Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel (the NYT didn't quite get the proper name) for 2005 goes to Robert Aumann and the University of Maryland's Thomas Schelling, for "for having enhanced our understanding of conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis." See also Max Sawicky and this interesting gloss on Aumann's work at Marginal Revolution.

Schelling arrived during my time as a grad student in College Park, and I'd met him a couple times, though I can't offer the sort of personal insight I might have if Mancur Olson had lived longer and the selection committee seen fit to make it a Terp twofer.

Given the sniping at economics that sometimes picks up this time of year, I think giving part of the prize to a Big Thinker like Schelling is useful. Looking at the list of past laureates, it's possible to critique a certain class of selection as people who were wrong in ways that extended the reach of the discipline (e.g., Becker in the direction of sociology, Fogel in the direction of history), or who were wrong in ways that fueled more useful research programs (Lucas, Kydland, Prescott). Defenders of these laureates may feel free to tell me how full of crap I am.
I'm trying to decide if I want to defend Prescott.

Meanwhile, I will note that Becker's "Nobel" is possibly the greatest evil done by the committee, since it reassured him of the correctness of his work, not just its value.

Of the five people you mention, only Becker strikes me as someone who really could have revolutionized the field if he could have gotten past his preconceptions.

The Chicago School has a lot to answer for, but the evils done to its own are oft overlooked and unlikely to be interred with their bones.
Dude, Kydland was the bomb.
Ken: In citing K&P, I have the citation for RBC in mind more than that for the time consistency of policy.

Bryan: Thanks for raising the level of the discourse.
I can't say that I even met TS at UMd, but I had a classmate who had him as an advisor and I can't help but wonder how having a Laureate as a reference/coauthor must help. Go Terps! ;-)
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