economics : Who is Jean Tirole and why did he win the the Nobel Prize in Economics
Answer by Jon Levin:
Jean Tirole is part of a generation of economists who, starting in the 1980s, applied game theory to study imperfect competition and regulatory economics. This group includes others who have won or likely will win Nobel Prizes – for instance Jean’s advisor Eric Maskin, who won the 2007 Nobel Prize. What distinguishes Jean is his remarkable breadth and productivity. No one in economics rivals Jean in being able to write down simple clear models to tell a story about industry structure or regulatory trade-offs or incentive distortions or corporate finance problems.
Jean is also a brilliant synthesizer of ideas. His textbook on industrial organization is still the best overview of the theory of imperfect competition and strategic interaction among firms, more than 25 years after it was published. His textbook on game theory with Drew Fudenberg is another classic. He has another great book on the theory of corporate finance, and one with Jean-Jacques Laffont on the theory or regulation that the Nobel committee emphasized a lot.
Jean has so many papers in so many different areas that it’s hard to pick out his greatest hits. The prize was awarded for his work on imperfect competition and regulation, but the fields where he has been a major contributor also would include organizational economics, political economy, corporate finance, innovation, contract theory, game theory and behavioral economics. His dissertation was on asset price bubbles in rational expectations models, and he’s even come back to that topic in recent years.
In short, this was a completely obvious Nobel Prize. There are not many economists in the world who are as widely respected among economists as Jean Tirole. Probably the only question was whether Jean would win the prize alone or with some of the other great microeconomic theorists of his cohort.