Wednesday, October 08, 2014
1. Economics. Thompson Reuters Sciencewatch has placed Israel Kirzner on its short list for the prize in economics for his work on entrepreneurship. If the prize is to be awarded for making genuinely insightful and valuable breakthroughs then Kirzner certainly deserves it. His work has been unfortunately ignored by much of the profession, even though it directly addresses many issues that seem puzzles when one is limited to accepted mainstream theory. Sciencewatch puts a Kirzner-Baumol prize as one of three likely outcomes, and "we" at UC would welcome that also because entrepreneurship deserves a great deal more attention in economics, because Baumol is also a deserving candidate, and this would be an NYU sweep of the prize. (Yours truly wrote his doctoral dissertation at NYU with Dr. Kirzner as advisor.) If "we" were selecting the prize winners, Kirzner-Baumol would win.
Alas, our prediction is otherwise. I have no real insight on what might happen, but I would guess that if Baumol wins the prize it will be for other things, such as his cost-disease theory. So I will go out on a limb and predict Baumol as a lone winner.
2. The Peace Prize. This one is usually good for a laugh, at least of late. The U.N. Climate Committee? The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons? Barack Obama? The E.U.? Good grief! Even The Onion couldn't match this. In predicting this one, picking almost anyone or anything at random seems a reasonable strategy here, although one wonders if genuinely deserving candidates shouldn't be eliminated from the pool. If there were any justice to this prize, this would be a good year for the committee to strip past prizes from undeserving candidates, beginning with the E.U. for its greed, cowardice, and plain treachery in abandoning Ukrainians and appeasing Putin as he wages war on Ukraine and imposes tyranny at home. There's "European values" for you. But given that the prize must be awarded, Unforeseen Contingencies would award it to the protesters of Euromaidan (especially the "Heavenly Hundred") and the volunteer brigades who are fighting the Russian Army in eastern Ukraine. They are doing more for peace and freedom than anyone else in Europe. The IDF is a close second.
But given the track record of the committee, I predict another wild card winner. I suggested ISIS as a possible candidate in one of my classes (what better way to whimper "please don't hurt us" than to award them a Peace Prize?) One of my students (thanks James!) suggested Vladimir Putin as an even more likely candidate, which strikes me as very much in keeping with past picks such as Yassir Arafat. Hence Unforeseen Contingencies predicts ISIS, or Putin, or a shared prize between them.
And the winners are...