I was delighted to wake up this morning and discover that I have yet another Nobel Laureate as a colleague.
The prize was “for having laid the foundations of mechanism design theory.” Mechanism design formalizes ways of thinking about how a social planner, manager, or parent can set up rules so that all parties involved have the incentives to act in the way that the planner/manager/parent prefers. This Nobel is not for the idea that you can design incentives this way, but rather for coming up with ingenious proofs that simplify the task of proving that, indeed, all parties have the right incentives — a task that can turn out to be awfully difficult.
In addition to being great economists (see my last post about what it means if you win the Nobel when you are young — both Maskin and Myerson are under 60 years old), they are both incredibly kind and generous people. In fact, they may challenge George Akerlof for the title of nicest people to win the Economics Nobel.
I don’t know Hurwicz personally. I’m embarrassed to say I don’t even know his research, for that matter. He must be at least 90 years old.