I was thinking earlier today that there really needs to be an advent calendar or something to lead up to the Nobel Prize announcement…I mean, wouldn’t it be so great to open a little paper door each day and see the face of (in the vast majority of cases) an old nerdy white guy? So of course I googled “advent calendar” to try and find an image that I could photoshop some pictures onto, but somewhere in that process I reminded myself that just about anything can be found in the Internet, so I decided to aim higher and googled “advent calendar economics.” And guess what? I didn’t quite get old nerdy dudes, but I did find an advent calendar of charts from The Economist, which is pretty exciting. (Note: You and I may have different definitions of exciting.) In related news, I need a graphics department.
Anyway, the Nobel Prize announcements for this year have started, and the economics prize is scheduled to be announced on Monday, October 14th. What this means is that a bunch of accomplished economists are going to be sleeping on pins and needles Sunday night and probably waking up every five minutes because they decided, for example, that their cat’s meow sounded like an early-morning phone call from Sweden. (Sidenote: I fail to understand how this hasn’t become a prank call gold mine by now, especially since one of the first phone calls usually comes from a guy named, I kid you not, Adam Smith. I suppose the family of Edmund Phelps was right to be a tad suspicious.) Not surprisingly, such phone calls are one of the few reliable ways to get an economist to smile:
(I can’t help but find it funny that the publication that published that picture thinks it’s noteworthy that a Jewish economist won the Nobel Prize.) So, who’s going to win this year? In recent years, nerds have been able to rely on betting markets such as InTrade to provide reliable guesses, and they’d been able to entertain themselves via betting pools run by economic departments. (Harvard, for example, had one that was open to the public and quite popular, but the university shut it down a few years back. Boo.) Without these sources, economists are generally trapped in a free-for-all scenario, which probably explains why the Wall Street Journal included everyone but my grandmother in its list of potential Nobel winners. The upside of this, however, is that the article reads as a pretty decent overview of prominent economists and their work.
I have no idea how to even begin to guess who is actually going to win, so the best I can do is to say that my favorite economists on the list are the following, not necessarily for particularly well-developed reasons:
- Jerry Hausman – I took graduate econometrics with Jerry, and he actually focused on explaining the neat things that we could do with the math that we were learning. Also, he kept using “Manny Ortiz” as a sports example in class, and I still can’t figure out whether he was aware of what he was doing.
- Richard Thaler – I’m kind of surprised that Thaler, one of the main behavioral guys, didn’t share the prize with Dan Kahneman in 2002, so I root for him each year.
- Joshua Angrist – I am amused by any economist that both looks and sounds like Ben Stein. I also think his draft lottery papers are really interesting, since I can totally picture him being like “you know, it would really be nice if the government would randomize people into military and non-military conditions so that I could analyze the effect of military service on labor market outcomes” and then having a huge light bulb go off over his head.
- Alan Krueger – If he wins, I’m going to go ahead and assume that it’s for his work on the music industry.
Dear Sweden: It’s mean to put the econ Nobel announcement on a U.S. holiday, but I will suck it up and set my alarm anyway.