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.

 

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