Photographer: Stan Honda/AFP via Getty Images

Oops! NYU Says Sorry for Wrongly Saying Professor Won Nobel

  • ‘Test’ page didn’t reflect advance information, school says
  • World Bank’s Romer considered candidate for economics prize

Well, that’s embarrassing.

The website for New York University’s Stern School of Business posted a statement announcing a press conference with Professor Paul Romer, currently on leave as chief economist at the World Bank, for winning the 2016 Nobel Prize in economics.

MUMBAI, INDIA  JANUARY 10: (EDITOR NOTE: This is an exclusive shoot of Mint) Paul Romer- Professor of Economics at New York University's Stern School of Business poses during an exclusive interview on January 10, 2013 in Mumbai, India. (Photo by ABHIJIT BHATLEKAR/Mint via Getty Images)

Paul Romer.

Photographer: Abhitjit Bhatlekar/Mint via Getty Images

Just one problem: The award won’t be announced until Monday. The page quickly disappeared, but not before gathering some notice, thanks to the Internet Archive website, which preserves pages as they appeared, including the inadvertent NYU release on Thursday.

“We are deeply distressed that a draft test web page, not officially linked to our website, unintentionally became viewable on the web,” NYU Stern said in an e-mailed statement. “It does not reflect the Nobel committee’s decision, or any special insight or advance information we had.”

The statement, sent by spokeswoman Carolyn Ritter, added that the press release was prepared for the “possibility” that Romer might win.

“We are deeply sorry that these routine preparations may appear presumptuous, and we apologize to all concerned,” the statement read.

Romer posted his thoughts to his own website, acknowledging the mistake.

“For more that 20 years, October has been the time when the eager beavers in the university PR department get a little too excited as they drill in preparation for the possibility that I might receive a Nobel prize,” he wrote.

The NYU Stern posting captured by the Internet Archive was flagged by Politico earlier on Thursday.

No Decision

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards the prize each year, also declared the press release inaccurate.

“The laureate or laureates won’t be told until on Monday after a decision has been made at the meeting that’s held just before it’s made official,” said Jessica Balksjoe Nannini, a spokeswoman for the academy.

Romer, 60, founding director of Stern’s Urbanization Project, has long been considered a candidate for the prize. The American is best known for his theories on how cities and countries can generate growth by promoting new technology.

Whether Romer wins this year -- NYU Stern promises it really doesn’t know -- might also be driven by what the academy thinks of Romer’s recent scathing critiques of the field of macroeconomic research.

In a paper based on a January lecture he declared, “For more than three decades, macroeconomics has gone backwards” by abandoning a commitment to objective facts in favor of models.

The “dismissal of fact goes so far beyond post-modern irony that it deserves its own label. I suggest ‘post-real’,” he said.

Perhaps the press release was also post-real.

— With assistance by Amanda Billner, and Andrew Mayeda

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