Robert E. Lucas, Jr’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1995
Your Majesties, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you all know, Alfred Nobel did not choose to establish a prize in Economics. This prize was established in the 1960s, as a memorial, through the generosity of the Bank of Sweden. Generosity and, I would say, wisdom, as the establishment of a Nobel Prize in Economics has had a very beneficial effect on my profession, encouraging us to focus on basic questions and scientific method. It is as if by recognizing Economics as a science, the Bank of Sweden and the Nobel Foundation have helped us to become one, to come close to realizing our scientific potential. Now in 1995 this great honour is given to an economist who maintains that central banks should focus exclusively on the control of inflation, that they must be resolute in resisting the temptation to pursue other objectives, no matter how worthwhile these objectives may be. It would be understandable if people at the Bank of Sweden were now thinking: “Why don’t we tell this man to take his theories to the Bundesbank, and see how many kronor he can get for them over there?”
But this is no occasion for ill-feeling. It is not the time to criticize central bankers or anyone else. When Voltaire was dying, in his eighties, a priest in attendance called upon him to renounce the devil. Voltaire considered his advice, but decided not to follow it. “This is no time,” he said, “to be making new enemies”. In this same spirit, I offer my thanks and good wishes to the Bank of Sweden, to the Nobel Committee, and to everyone involved in this wonderful occasion.