James M. Buchanan Jr.

Banquet speech

James M. Buchanan Jr.’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1986

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is, indeed, a unique experience for me, so much so that I feel very much like the blind man in the nudist camp. I am feeling my way around. More seriously, I have the particular privilege of paying tribute to that great Swede, Knut Wicksell, whose ideas were so important in shaping my own. Ninety years ago, Wicksell sought unsuccessfully to extend economic science to political process. He identified the normative contradiction between treating individuals as ultimate sources of value and assessing the performance of “the economy” or “the polity” against non-individualistic standards.

Knut Wicksell provided me with a research agenda that was almost open-ended. My professor at the University of Chicago, Frank Knight, provided the role model for skeptical, critical courage that enabled me to challenge mainstream orthodoxy along the lines dictated by the Wicksellian program. Frank Knight both invested in me, and influenced me, because he and I personally shared an upbringing in the rural agricultural poverty of mid-America, as well as locational experiences in both Tennessee, my native state, and Virginia, my adopted state.

For my colleagues, friends, and guests from these states here, however, I must confess to a failure. Try as I may, I have been totally unable to establish any relationship between that great Swede Knut Wicksell and either Tennessee or Virginia.

Finally, let me add, and enthusiastically, that, in your capacities as hosts to me, my family and guests, this week, you have all, indeed, proven to be great Swedes.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 1986, Editor Wilhelm Odelberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1987

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1986

To cite this section
MLA style: James M. Buchanan Jr. – Banquet speech. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Sun. 21 Jul 2024. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/economic-sciences/1986/buchanan/speech/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.