Robert A. Mundell’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 1999
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have been very lucky in my career. I was lucky first of all to find a profession that suited me. As an undergraduate at UBC in Canada, I fell in love with economic theory. It was the right choice for me.
I went to the University of Washington in Seattle. This was a very good place to study, and I learned a lot. But it wasn’t the right place for my PhD. So I asked three professors for advice: One said: “Go to the place where you can get the best fellowship.” A second said: “Go to the best place and borrow whatever money you need.” The last one said: “Marry a rich girl and let her support you!”
I took the advice of the professor who said to go to the best place and borrow. I went to MIT and borrowed, took three courses, passed my doctorate exams, and lived happily ever after.
In the spring of that academic year, I got a Canadian Scholarship, named after the former Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King, which let me study wherever I wanted. I decided to go to the London School of Economics to write my thesis for MIT, under James Meade, Nobelist with Bertil Ohlin in 1977. I took a ship to Italy, passed through Siena where Valerie, Nicholas and I now happily reside every summer, and hitchhiked to Stockholm, where I spent a splendid week. That was the summer of 1955, and I knew I was destined to return to Sweden!
How much we owe to good teachers, good education, and good advice! But caveat emptor! I shall not tell my two-year-old son Nicholas to do what I did, but to do things his own way!
As the song says:
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing;
And then, when tears subside,
I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And, may I say not in a shy way,
Oh no, oh no, not me,
I did it, my way.
Watch the Banquet speech
Their work and discoveries range from how cells adapt to changes in levels of oxygen to our ability to fight global poverty.
See them all presented here.