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Mervyn King

What’s the Point of the Economics Nobel?

The evidence of 50 years says the discipline’s at its best when framing questions and offering insights — not delivering solutions.

Quite a production.

Quite a production.

Photographer: Soren Andersson/AFP/Getty Images

Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the Nobel Prize in Economics, as it has come to be known. It was first awarded in 1969 by the Swedish central bank as an addendum to the other, much older, Nobel prizes (and is correctly known as the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel). This upstart status subtracts nothing from the esteem, or cash, accorded to the laureates. The latest winner, or winners, will be announced Monday.

What have we learned from half a century of these awards — and is there any point to them?