I’m sure that many of you, like myself, were psyched last week for your annual Fantasy Econ Nobel Draft: it’s the new fantasy football, right? A group of friends from the Fed, past and present, like to wager on Monday’s prize every year. I’ve got Hansen, Milgrom, Rogoff and Sid Winter on my team, with many a beer at stake. If you wanted my sentimental “who deserves it most” picks, noting that I have abysmal knowledge of the legends in econometrics and broad swaths of macro, I would say that Milgrom, Nordhaus, Tirole and Peter Diamond strike me as the most deserving.
On a related note, the 1988 winner Maurice Allais passed away. You know him from the Allais paradox in utility theory. Two notes on him: First, if you’ve ever seen the Allais paradox cited, you must notice that the particularly erudite 1950s economist must have been bilingual at least, since Allais’ paper (aside from an extended abstract) is published in French in Econometrica. I could not find English translations of many of his other papers.
Second, (and I would love to be corrected on this point!), there is a good case that Allais is among the “least deserving” laureates. Look at citation count, for instance: he has essentially only one well-cited paper, and surely citation is at least a rough measure of influence. His other interesting work strikes me as less developed than his followers (particularly Debreu); for instance, Allais’ proof of the welfare theorems demands much more in the way of assumptions about, say, differentiability, then similar proofs by his contemporaries. I don’t really see how Allais was more influential than other theorists of his era like Abba Lerner.