Q&A with Eric S. Maskin, October 2007
Your questions to Eric S. Maskin
After the 2007 Nobel Prize announcements, visitors to Nobelprize.org had the possibility to submit questions to the 2007 Nobel Laureates. Here, Eric Maskin, answers a selection of the questions.
Question: It seems that regulation theory and applied regulation in general always tries to capture and control some market inefficiency or malfunction. But it seems this process goes in cycles: At the very moment the regulation is good enough and applied, the market creates a new inefficiency or product and/or learns how to escape from the grip of the applied framework. Do you believe your theory helps smoothen this dynamism in the long-run and how?
Hristo Minov, age 29, Bulgaria
Answer: To the extent that future inefficiencies can be anticipated (even if only probabilistically), ways of dealing with these inefficiencies can be incorporated into current regulatory mechanisms, thereby “smoothing” the dynamic.
Question: Is it possible to apply and have practical daily use of the mechanism design theory or similar analytical means in everyday governmental budget planning and execution decisions?
John G. McLaughlin, age 54, United States
Answer: If budget planning requires gathering information from people who may not always have the incentive to disclose that information, then the principles of mechanism design can definitely be of use in such planning.
Question: Is it economically viable to measure the performance of an individual based on the performance of otherwise interested subordinates? Most specifically, I refer to how many school systems budgets are affected by the performance of students, many of whom do not yet fully appreciate the value of education and therefore do not fully apply themselves to their studies.
D. Rutledge, age 25, United States
Answer: Performance by students usually gives us some indication – although, as you point out, not a perfect indication – of how well the schools are doing in teaching them.
Question: Who, or what, inspired you to enter your field of achievement?
Bobby Cerini, age 34, Australia
Answer: I entered economics because of a course I took on “information economics,” which I found fascinating.
Question: In one word, can you describe your reaction when you knew you had been awarded the Nobel Prize?
Young eager student, age 13, United States
Question: Has there ever been a time in your life and/or work when you have doubted what you were doing to the point that you seriously considered abandoning said work? Anna, age 16, United Kingdom
Answer: Yes, there have been plenty of times when I have felt discouraged enough to consider giving up.
Question: Congratulations for your well deserved awards. My question is: Who, of all the other Nobel Laureates in your field, would you most want to meet and why?
Jim Foley, age 45, United States
Answer: I think I have met nearly all the Laureates in Economics. Among the few I haven’t met, I suppose I’d most like to meet Ronald Coase because of his legendary power to persuade his colleagues of the validity of the Coase Theorem.
Question: First of all, congratulations! What will you do with the prize money? You have done something extraordinary to win the Nobel Prize – perhaps you deserve to spend it all on yourself!
Scott MacLeod, age 38, United States
Answer: My family is donating a good part of the prize money to CamphillSpecial School, a school for severely disabled children.
Question: At any given time you obviously have several questions in your mind that you want to find answers for in your research. How do you choose which ones to pursue first and spend most of your efforts on?
Nurmukhammad Yusupov, age 30, Uzbekistan
Answer: I choose questions to work on according to how much they excite me.
Nobel Prizes and laureates
See them all presented here.