Editor’s note: Please also see the 2010 results of the Kellogg School/Northwestern faculty poll.
If there were any year the Nobel Prize in Economics could rival the famed Peace Prize, it would have been this year. That is, until it was announced this morning that the prestigious award would go to President Barack Obama. Obama is only the third sitting U.S. president to receive the award, and indeed only the fourth president to ever receive the prize. Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson both won during their tenures in office (1906 and 1919 respectively), while Jimmy Carter won most recently in 2002. Yet the show will go on, and Monday the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences will announce the winner of the Nobel Prize in Economics.
Curious which economist will claim the coveted prize this year, I surveyed the faculty of the Kellogg School and Northwestern University’s economics department. In three days of voting, 66 faculty members responded. Their overwhelming favorite? Robert Shiller, Yale economist, co-creator of the Case-Shiller house price indices, and author of Irrational Exuberance. Richard Thaler, the behavioral economist from the University of Chicago, was a close second with Jean Tirole and Oliver Williamson tying for third place. Eugene Fama took fifth place, but curiously his colleague and co-author of the Fama-French three-factor model Kenneth R. French received no votes at all.
Despite Fama being a relative favorite in this poll, one professor, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, did not think he would stand a good chance of winning. “The Nobel committee has been known to react to recent events, such as the—ahem—recent worldwide financial meltdown,” the faculty member said. “In some circles of opinion—I have heard—it is common to speculate about whether these events have helped or hurt some of the researchers who made their name doing work in finance.”
Many faculty also acknowledged that Nobel Prizes are often awarded to groups of people. Robert Shiller and Richard Thaler were the favored grouping with five votes (six if you include another vote that added Matthew Rabin to the mix).
The Department of Economics voiced the most opinions of the group with 19 members voting, while Finance faculty claimed second with 13 voting.
The Economics department also had an inclination to buck the trends predicted by citation analysis and the bookmakers, submitting eleven write-in votes—far more than any other department. Finance professors were in near-lockstep with nearly 40 percent of them voting for Robert Shiller.
The Nobel Prize in Economics will be announced Monday, October 12 at 6:00 AM CDT. Check back here to see which department picked a winner.
Addendum: Other sites have also picked their favorites. Check out Thomson-Reuters for their citation-based guesses. Ladbrokes had odds for the award, but it looks like post time has passed. Fortunately, Greg Mankiw has their odds archived. Harvard also has a pool open to the general public, but it costs a dollar.