Economics prize: who wants one? – it’ll cost you

Can you believe it: the first Nobel prize in economics was sold at auction last week? Like the science, peace and literature prizes, the economics prize is awarded for making an important advance in human understanding or harmony. But when you look at the list of economics winners, you may wonder whether there has been any winning economist who deserves that accolade (Milton Friedman, Gary Becker, Robert Lucas, Eugene Fama). Some of them have actually set economics back, not forward. Maybe it is not accident that the economics prize is not funded or chosen by Norway’s Nobel Foundation but by the Swedish Riksbank, the central bank.

But then if you look at some of the winners of Peace prize, things are not much better (Henry Kissinger, Menachim Begin, Mother Teresa, FW de Klerk, Shimon Peres, Barack Obama (after less than one year), and the European Union (?)).

Anyway, last week, the first Nobel Prize in economics to go for auction sold for $390,848. That’s more than for prizes in physics, but far from the million-plus payouts for prizes for medicine or peace.

It was the prize awarded Simon Kuznets in 1971 that sold. Kuznets is known as the author of the gross domestic product measurement that now serves as the key benchmark for the size and growth of economies worldwide. He’s also famous for the Kuznets Curve, which suggests that as a country’s level of economic development increases, inequality initially rises but then falls. This latter conclusion has been disputed by Thomas Piketty and others in their recent works (see my post,

The price for the Kuznets prize was nowhere near that of Francis Crick and James Watson‘s Nobels, which sold in 2013 and 2014 for millions each. Their discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA puts them among the most famous scientists of the century.


Why the difference in price for these prizes at auction: the intrinsic value of the medal?; supply and demand?; inflation?.  I leave that for any of these eminent economists to tell us:

5 thoughts on “Economics prize: who wants one? – it’ll cost you

  1. Luxury item, not mass produced. It doesn’t take part in any part of the circulation of commodities. It’s just speculation and is not subjected to economic laws.

    1. The neoclassicals actually claimed (well, they probably still do) that the fact that they didn’t have this kind of “dualistic” value system found in LTV-based theories, and instead provided a “unitary” theory of value made their economics superior.

      I don’t buy that argument, but it’s an interesting bit of trivia.

  2. Here comes some pretty uninteresting corrections on the Nobel prizes from a swede.
    The only prize awarded by the Norway Nobel Committé (chosen by the norwegian parliament) is The Peace Prize. The prizes for literature, physics, chemistry and physiology or medicine is awarded by the different branches of The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. These five prizes are specified in the testament of Alfred Nobel. The economic prize was not part of Alfred Nobels testament and was first given in 1969 and is strictly speaking not a Nobel prize, but a prize given “in Memory of Alfred Nobel”. The funding for the prize comes from Riksbanken, but the chosing of the recipient of the prize is made by a committé chosen by The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

  3. That’s an easy question Michael. It is only the perfection of market mechanism that embodies the natural human/social relations known to us since the beginning of time:)

    On the serious note, i wanted to thank you for amazing job you have been and are doing doing, trying to shed light on the savageness of the current system by applying and using theories of Marx.

    We are slowly but surely running out of time before we cross the point of no return and socialism is presenting itself as the only viable and sustainable alternative. A lot of work has to be done in order to refute the current market paradigm which isn’t just hurting us humans but is changing the whole environment to the point where it will not be recognizable and will loose its ability to sustain life. We need more people like you and i sincerely hope that you and your team will continue to carry our flag, the flag of proletariat, proudly.

    I have started spreading parts of your work from this blog on a forum that i am a part of, and i hope that you don’t mind. Each and every one of us needs to do what ever he can in order to raise the consciousnesses of our struggle and attack the fallacy’s of capitalism. Not doing something will lead to continued and worsening immiseration, wars, killing and destruction, a circle which we will never be able to leave until we change the mode of production and redistribution or cause our own extinction.

    All the best,


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