Good morning. The final act of the 2019 Nobel Prize season is upon us.
The biggest prize in the world of economics will be awarded this morning, to recognise outstanding contributions to the discipline.
Of course, there isn’t really a Nobel Prize for economics. Today’s award is a late addition to the fold, created in 1969 by the Swedish central bank to mark its anniversary.
Critics, including some of the Nobel family, have criticised the award, suggesting it shouldn’t be rubbing shoulders with Physics, Medicine, Chemistry, Literature and Peace.
However, the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel has rewarded important work over the last half century, and has been awarded to some of the profession’s most influential figures.
It’s not without controversy either. Many on the left would question how Milton Friedman picked up the award in 1976 for his work on monetarism, for example.
And back in 1997, Robert Merton and Myron Scholes were hailed for their work determining the value of derivatives — before such financial contracts helped to create the financial crisis.
Last year, the prize went to William Nordhaus and Paul Romer.
Nordhaus was recognised for his pioneering investigations into environmental economics, while Romer won for his work on the causes of economic growth (which helped inspire the endogenous growth theory beloved by former UK PM Gordon Brown).
As usual, there’s no official shortlist, but that’s no excuse not to speculate!
The awards committee could lean towards environmental work again, given the climate emergency. They could recognise work on trade, given the disruption caused by the US-China trade war. They could look to the economics of inequality, or to financial economics.
This year’s winner will pick up 9 million Swedish krona, or around £720,000, which will be shared if two, or three, winners are selected. As with the other Nobel prizes, it can’t be awarded posthumously.
- 10.45am BST: Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel