Richard Stone

Banquet speech

Richard Stone’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1984

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since the 18th of October I have been the prey to many emotions. First of all came surprise at having been selected for this high honour. Then came elation as the truth of it sank in. Then bewilderment at the Niagara of publicity that engulfed me. Then panic at the thought of producing a decent lecture in six weeks. Then exhilaration at the wonderful welcome I have received in Stockholm. Today, overshadowing them all is gratitude.

First, I want to thank the Nobel Foundation for making me feel like le Roi Soleil, a feeling which I am sure is shared by my fellow laureates.

Second, I want to thank my Swedish colleagues for singling me out for this year’s Prize in Economics and the Royal Academy of Sciences for ratifying their choice. In so doing, they have given very great pleasure and encouragement not only to me but also to political arithmeticians, or, as we would say nowadays, economic statisticians, all over the world, as many of the letters I have received testify.

Third, I want to thank the Bank of Sweden for adding to the other Nobel prizes this one, which confirms incontrovertibly the standing of economics as a Science with a capital S.

Fourth, I want to thank the U.N. and the OECD for offering me soundboards of international resonance for my ideas.

Fifth, I want to thank the University of Cambridge for first giving me my education and then providing an ideal setting for my research.

Finally, I want to thank all the people who have written to me expressing, some seriously, some humorously, a degree of warmth and friendliness which I have found overwhelming.

I cannot conclude better than by quoting from one of these letters. But first I must explain that during the war, when I was working in the Central Statistical Office producing the first British national accounts, I always wrote with a quill pen – you know, one of those pens made out of a goose’s feather. Well, my boss of those distant days, Sir Harry Campion, has not forgotten it. His charming letter of congratulations ends with the words: ‘It just shows what can be done if you start with a quill pen and plenty of paper’.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1984, Editor Wilhelm Odelberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1985

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1984

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