Nobel Predictions and Wishes

 

 

It's that time of the year again where people are abuzz about who made the cut and who didn't. No. I'm not talking about the MLB playoffs. I'm talking about the Nobel Prize in Economics.

It's the time of the year where geeks like me get giddy with excitement. For a moment, an economist makes headlines. It's a fun time, the closest we come to the excitement of a sport.

Since this is my blog and I can do whatever I want, I thought I'd post my completely arbitrary predictions about who will win. Disclaimer: if you believe these predictions are based on any scientific procedure, I have an ocean front property in Arizona to sell you.

Prediction:

  • Robert Barro - "for his contribution to the theory of economic growth"

Wishes (and why):

  • Israel Kirzner - "for his contributions to the theory of entrepreneurship"
    • Because he's my favorite living economist. The opening of his book Competition and Entrepreneurship is the reason I became an economist. I can still remember reading it in the library. My blog is named after his first book. Need I say more about how I'm a fan of Kirzner?
  • AndreiShleifer and RobertVishny - "for their contributions to the study of corporate governance and finance"
    • Shleifer is one of the most creative economists in the last few decades. His work on regulation, behavioral economics, and law and economics is top notch.
  • Randall Wright andNobuhiroKiyotaki - "for their contributions to the theory of money."
    • Wright is teaching my monetary class next semester. I enjoy his work enough and would love to say I studied with a Nobel winner. I know it's stupid, but hey, why not cheer for the home team?

There we are. With the full backing of science, my prediction and hopefuls.

What do you guys think?

P.S. I don't care that the Economics Nobel isn't a "real" Nobel.

The Gary Becker Method

The econ blogosphere is blowing up (rightfully so) with articles, tributes, and obituaries to the late Nobel Laureate Gary Becker. Prof. Becker passed away on Saturday at the age of 83.

While I don't have any anecdotes about Becker like Russ Roberts or Steven Levitt, I do want to highlight some thoughts on Gary Becker's method. After all, the blog's title comes from a Kirzner book on method. Over the past few days, a few posts, mostly from Austrians who love talking about this stuff, have discussed Becker's work with an emphasis on this.

What was the Becker method?

Most people have stressed Becker's application of economic reasoning to traditionally non-economic areas of inquiry. Becker saw economics as a method of inquiry about human decision-making. Economics was not just the study of markets. This was the focus of Becker's Nobel lecture "The Economic Way of Looking at Life"-

Unlike Marxian analysis, the economic approach I refer to does not assume that individuals are motivated solely by selfishness or gain. It is a method of analysis, not an assumption about particular motivations. Along with others, I have tried to pry economists away from narrow assumptions about self interest. Behavior is driven by a much richer set of values and preferences.

The analysis assumes that individuals maximize welfare as they conceive it, whether they be selfish, altruistic, loyal, spiteful, or masochistic. Their behavior is forward-looking, and it is also consistent over time. In particular, they try as best they can to anticipate the uncertain consequences of their actions. Forward-looking behavior, however, may still be rooted in the past, for the past can exert a long shadow on attitudes and values. Continue reading