Nobel Prize Conversations

Through their lives and work, failures and successes – get to know to the individuals who have been awarded the Prize in Economic Sciences. The host for this podcast is Adam Smith, who also has the happy task of conducting telephone interviews with new laureates just after they have received the news of their prize.

These easily-accessible conversations delve into how these personalities found their research fields, how they view collaboration, curiosity and failure, and what keeps them going. The laureates share what they have learned from their career and what they like to do outside of their work – from music to fly-fishing and horseback riding. We let the discussions flow freely, resulting in richly varied stories on topics ranging from poverty prevention to markets for kidney exchange to nudging in behavioural economics.


Christopher Pissarides

Meet Christopher Pissarides, a humble London School of Economics professor who finished his PhD in two years and was awarded the 2010 Prize in Economic Sciences.

He and his co-laureates Peter Diamond and Dale Mortensen were awarded the prize for finding ways to incorporate real-world frictions into the mathematical models that describe market behaviour. Their Diamond-Mortensen-Pissarides (DMP) model is one of the most widely-used analytical tools for labour markets. Besides discussing labour markets, we speak about educational systems, how life has been affected by covid-19 and how Pissarides experienced moving from Cyprus to the UK.

This episode concludes Nobel Prize Conversations season 1. We hope you have enjoyed this season and look forward to welcome you back soon for season 2.

Esther Duflo

Esther Duflo’s research improves our ability to fight global poverty. In just two decades, co-laureates Duflo, Banerjee and Kremer have transformed development economics with their innovative experiment-based approach, which is now a flourishing field of research. Thanks to their work we have clearer perspectives on the core problems within areas such as education and health.

In this episode Adam Smith speaks to Esther Duflo about how her drive to understand and fight poverty began at an early age. They discuss the world in coronavirus times, and the fears and prejudices connected to migration. Duflo also shares her tips for managers and her best collaboration techniques.

Esther Duflo received the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2019 together with Abhijit Banerjee and Michael Kremer for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.

Daniel Kahneman

How does it feel to be one of the most famous behavioural psychologists of our time? Daniel Kahneman says that it is perfectly fine to be famous as long as you don’t let it go to your head. From an early age, Kahneman was interested in people – he took after his mother who, both with irony and objectivity, was fascinated by the people in her surroundings. When he was just ten years old he wrote his first essay on the psychology of religion.

In this digital conversation podcast Daniel Kahneman talks about eureka moments, scientific collaborations, stereotypes and racial discrimination, and also advice: “In general I try to give as little advice as possible.”

Daniel Kahneman was awarded the 2002 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel “for having integrated insights from psychological research into economic science, especially concerning human judgment and decision-making under uncertainty”.

Oliver Hart

Imagine you’re married, but you never discussed children with your partner beforehand. Then imagine your partner doesn’t want children, but you do. Your wedding day contract made no mention of kids, and legally everything is fine – but you’re still disappointed. Contracts are everywhere in society, and the example of children and marriage is just one example that shows that many contracts are – as Oliver Hart would say – incomplete.

In this conversation Hart explores the importance of words and language for a researcher, how being good at economics is about learning to THINK like an economist and how his parents influenced him to think that anyone who’s not left-wing is an idiot.

In 2016 Oliver Hart was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, together with the Finnish economist Bengt Holmström, for his contribution to contract theory.

Christopher Sims

How important is the money in your pocket? Try buying a sandwich with an IOU and a promise to come back and pay, and you’ll soon understand. Christopher Sims’ research explores topics from the meaning of money to his prize-awarded work on cause and effect in the macroeconomy. In this conversation he touches on sandwich shops, terrific teachers and a horse with a name that’s almost impossible to pronounce.

In 2011, Christopher Sims and fellow economist Thomas Sargent were awarded the Prize in Economic Sciences for developing methods that help define ‘what caused what’ in economics.

Alvin Roth

Should you be able to buy a kidney? Economic Sciences Laureate Alvin Roth would call that, and other taboo exchanges, repugnant transactions. Roth pioneered ways of describing outlier markets where prices don’t work, explaining why you can’t buy a job at Google, acceptance at Yale – or a human organ.

In 2012, Alvin Roth was awarded the Prize in Economic Sciences for his work in matching markets.

Roger Myerson

Belonging to a community is wonderful, but for Economic Sciences laureate Roger Myerson sharing outside your community is more important. By crossing maths with history and politics, Myerson arrived at new insights about economics, found his love for game theory and moved onwards into new ways to describe situations where markets don’t work properly

Roger Myerson was awarded the 2007 Prize in Economic Sciences, shared with Leonid Hurwicz and Eric Maskin, for mechanism design theory.

Paul Romer

Protecting the ship, building relationships and organising surprise weddings – in this week’s episode, Economic Sciences laureate Paul Romer discusses everything from the special moment he experienced just hours before collecting his prize to the importance of unity, purpose and inclusion.

Romer shared the 2018 Prize in Economic Sciences with William D. Nordhaus for integrating technological innovations into long-run macroeconomic analysis.

Angus Deaton

Angus Deaton dreamed of being a pianist, a rugby player or a mathematician – but he just wasn’t good enough. After these setbacks, however, he discovered economics, and in 2015 he was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for his analysis of consumption, poverty, and welfare.

Listen to a conversation about some wild ideas, beautiful places and the role trout fishing can play in problem-solving.

Richard Thaler

Nudges, sludges and the connection between stubbornness and success – in this first episode of Nobel Prize Conversations, host Adam Smith interviews Economic Sciences laureate Richard Thaler. His work has helped us to understand how people make choices in the real world and has also given us tools to nudge people towards better decisions.


First published January 2020