Read practically anything about current economic or sociopolitical events and you will almost certainly see the name of some economist. Such mentions are quite common in our day-to-day absorption of the world around us. Given the widespread role of economists in today’s society, this makes sense. However, how many of those names actually stick with you? Just about everyone knows, at least by name, who John Maynard Keynes or Milton Friedman is. But have you heard about Dale Mortensen, the economist at Northwestern University who won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Economics for his analysis of markets with search frictions? Are you aware of what that means?* Considering his recent award, it might be possible. How about Ardo Hansson? He’s the lead economist for China with the World Bank, and he recently discussed how higher interest rates in that nation won’t necessarily lead to an inflow of capital. Given the current interconnection between the Chinese and American economies, this is highly relevant information. Unfortunately, the economists that speak on this and other topics oftentimes get overshadowed in the media–their words may make headlines, but their names seem to be forgotten.
Unless you are a practicing economist, you likely are not aware of all of those involved in this fascinating field. Even if you are one to attempt to keep up on such things (you being an economist or not), it can be hard to establish and subsequently rank the importance of everything said by each of these brilliant individuals. We place a lot of responsibility on ourselves to stay on top of what is going on, and yet we still struggle to decide who deserves the most public recognition.
With our new weekly post, Economist of the Week, we’ll do our best to provide you with who we feel has contributed most to the field of economics in regards to recent events. This might not include just one person but rather may incorporate broader ideas. We will be exploring concepts both old and new, so some honors will be bestowed posthumously. When possible, we’ll analyze the person responsible for developing particular theories and how their own experiences in life might have led their thinking in such a direction.
We understand that it’s impossible to be entirely objective with such a post. If you have any disagreement regarding something that we say in the future, let us know. We’ll include that reminder every week.
Furthermore, and starting now, we are accepting nominations and recommendations if you strongly believe there is any one person that ought to win. Send us an email or use the contact tab above. Include the name of the economist you would like to see featured as well as the reasoning behind your nomination of him or her. If you’d like to be recognized for your recommendation if it is selected, please include your name as you would like it to be displayed publicly.
*Mortensen’s research, which was also conducted with Peter Diamond of MIT and Christopher Pissarides of the London School of Economics and Political Science, analyzed why so many people could be unemployed when so many job openings existed. Read more about it at Northwestern University NewsCenter.