The Nobel Prize Goes to an Odd (but Worthy) Economic Trio

I awoke yesterday to the happy news that two of my friends won the Nobel Prize in economics.*

Gene Fama was one of the three recipients.  He and I share two important beliefs about the world.  First, we value empirical research in economics -- i.e., getting deep into the data to understand what is going on.  Second, we both believe that golf should be played quickly!  So every weekend, at least once, Gene and I get up before the sun rises and get in 18 holes (walking) in about 2.5 hours.  Gene is 74 years old -- he didn't take up golf until his sixties, and I've seen him post a scorecard with multiple birdies on it. 

Gene believes deeply and fundamentally in markets, which is why pairing his prize with Robert Shiller, a market skeptic, is quite odd.  But Shiller is a wonderful economist -- someone whose work I read a lot and was inspired by early in my own career -- and I'm glad he was chosen.

Darwin as Economist?

One session at the recent AEA meetings addressed "popular economics," with a panel including Diane Coyle, Robert Frank, Steve Levitt, and Robert Shiller. (Shiller wrote a bit about it on Slate.) Many interesting things were said. To me, the most interesting was that Frank is writing a book arguing that Charles Darwin, more so than Adam Smith, is the true forefather of modern economics. (He has already written a Times column on the topic.)

Hating Economists but Loving Economics

Robert Shiller points to an interesting conflict in economics today: "We are in the midst of a boom in popular economics: books, articles, blogs, public lectures, all followed closely by the general public. Yet this boom in popular economics comes at a time when the general public seems to have lost faith in professional economists - because almost all of us failed to predict, or even warn of, the current economic crisis, the biggest since the Great Depression."

Brother, Can You Spare a Trill?

Economists Mark J. Kamstra and Robert J. Shiller propose a new tool for government financing: "trills" -- i.e., shares in U.S. GDP.

Shiller’s Subprime Solution(s)

In my last post, I focused on what we still don’t know about the causes of the subprime crisis. But here I’ll tell you about six solutions proposed by Robert Shiller in his book The Subprime Solution. (He has also recently published an op-ed in The Washington Post and an op-ed in The Wall Street […]

What We Still Don’t Know About the Mortgage Crisis

On Tuesday, September 16, at a rally at the Colorado School of Mines, Barack Obama criticized John McCain, saying: Just today, Senator McCain offered up the oldest Washington stunt in the book: you pass the buck to a commission to study the problem. But here’s the thing; this isn’t 9/11. We know how we got […]

Where Have All the Macroeconomists Gone?

A reporter friend of mine recently asked me for a short list of academic economists he should call to better understand the current financial and economic mess. I found it a more difficult question than it should be. It really has been quite striking how silent most economists have been in this hour of need. […]

Freakonomics Quorum: Is It Time to Believe in the Housing Bubble?

Barbara Corcoran, Robert Shiller, N.A.R. chief economist Lawrence Yun and others discuss whether housing bubbles exist (and, if so, whether we're in one)

A Real-Estate Roller Coaster (Literally)

The Yale economist Robert Shiller has indexed American housing prices going back to 1890. You know how people like to say that such-and-such experience “was a real roller-coaster ride”? Well, the blogger Richard Hodge at SpeculativeBubble.com wanted to see if housing prices really were a roller-coaster ride. So he plotted Shiller’s inflation-adjusted index onto a […]