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The Swedish Central Bank Prize in Economics

October 13, 2006

 

Since Lew Rockwell has blogged here about the Nobel Peace Prize, and Jeffrey Tucker and others (1, 2, 3) have blogged about the so-called Nobel Prize in Economics, I thought I'd take the opportunity to point out, once again, that these two prizes do not come from the same foundation.

In his will, the Swedish capitalist Alfred Nobel (1833–1896) used his fortune to institute the foundation that awards the world's most famous annual prizes to those who have made 'an outstanding contribution to society' in one of five categories:

  1. physics;
  2. chemistry;
  3. medicine;
  4. literature;
  5. peace.

Notice the distinct absence of economic science in that list.

The real Nobel Prizes have been awarded since 1901.

What would more accurately be called 'The Myrdal Prize' (see below) and is officially called 'The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel,' (emphasis added) was instituted in 1969 by the Central Bank of Sweden.

Why an economics prize in memory of Alfred Nobel? What's the connection? Could it be that the prize is less in memory of the man and more in imitation of the famous prize that bears his name?

To promote the confusion, the Swedish Central Bank has its prize awarded by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences at the same time as the Nobel Prizes – leading many to label it a 'Nobel Prize.' It isn't.

Why would the central bank of a socialist country decide to perpetuate this ongoing hoax? To ask the question is to answer it.

For the sordid history, read Tim Swanson's excellent blog post, 'The Myrdal Mystery: The Gift That Keeps On Giving.'

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