Nobel ambitions?


Prizes, here and there
Did the Nobel peace prize die, really, the day Henry Kissinger (‘73) got one? From that fateful day, all the other dubious choices seem top notch choices by comparison. The UN (‘01), for instance. Or the then newly elected – and still undeserving – American president, Barack Obama (‘09), who, it appears, was non-plussed himself when he got the award.
Well, add one more to the better-than-Kissinger list. The European Union. The EU is being credited with bringing stability and peace to a continent for more than half a century. This is a continent that contains not only once rivals France and Germany but also many other turbulent undercurrents. Nobel prizes have to be given after a really long testing and vetting period. Keynes famously didn’t get one for economics because it takes economic theories of that grand a scale many, many decades to be accepted and the work of that most influential economist of the twentieth century is still the subject of vicious debate. By those standards, we should realize that the prize for the EU is not to be judged by the events of today but by the much earlier dream for a union of sorts within Europe. But many don’t take such a charitable view and have a set of very valid arguments in their favor.
Interesting is also the possibility of the prize for economics going to the United States. Now, whereas the EU is going through a recession, at least its undeserved prize was for peace. For the US, whose own economy has seen better days, the economics prize would serve to cheapen the sanctity of the award. Even on a meta level, even if the recipient were hale and hearty, it begs to reason why practitioners of a science should get an award reserved specifically for theorists.
Or has the Swedish committee been made aware of the utility of such an award for jump-starting an economy; the way an Oscar nod spikes a film’s box office receipts, would consumer confidence hike up in response to the Nobel?