Book on the Nobel Prize in Economics by Gabriel Söderberg of the Riksbank


Tomorrow, the Nobel Prize in Economics for 2016 will be awarded to this year’s laureates. Together with Avner Offer, Professor of Economic History at the University of Oxford, Gabriel Söderberg of the Riksbank has written a book on the Prize.

Picture of the book The Nobel Factor
On 10 December, the Nobel Prize in Economics will be awarded to this year's laureates, Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström. The Prize, which is actually called the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, was established in 1968 to mark the Riksbank's 300th jubilee.

The newly-published book "The Nobel Factor: The Prize in Economics, Social Democracy, and the Market Turn" was written by Avner Offer, Professor of Economic History at the University of Oxford, and Riksbank employee Gabriel Söderberg, who is also a researcher at Uppsala University.


Portrait of Gabriel Söderberg

Gabriel, how did this book come to be?

"The start of the project is linked to the reactions to the financial crisis of 2007–2008, when I was a doctoral student. Many people considered that poorly-regulated financial markets had been legitimised by economic theory which had created the conditions for the financial crisis. A number of research projects were started to analyse the role economic theory had played in the development of society and to discuss how economic theory should be changed."

What is the book about?

"It's about the relationship between economic theory and social policy. It's impossible to determine what the decisive factor is, but you could say that major shifts in social policy over the last 150 years have always coincided with paradigm shifts in economic theory. Our approach was to use the Nobel Prize in Economics as a useful methodological starting point. The Prize was created as a symbol for how the subject of economics had reached the status of science and is the subject's highest scientific distinction. At the same time, it's difficult to separate science and politics when economic theory also provides guidelines for how policy should be designed. The Economic Prize has been criticised on exactly this point, particularly in the 1980s and 1990s, as many laureates, as well as leading members of the Prize Committee, have been leading advocates of reforming economic policy. The Economics Prize thus becomes like a prism through which several different complex issues can be studied."

What kind of reviews has the book received?

"The reviews have, with the odd exception, been relatively positive. Attention has quite clearly been greater abroad than in Sweden, particularly in the United States, France and Germany."

Will there be more books in the years to come?

"Yes, I'm just completing a manuscript on the development of the Swedish financial sector and its regulation between 1900 and 2015. The book will be published in 2017. I've also started another book on economic instability in a broader sense. However, my research is conducted on a part-time basis, alongside my work at the Riksbank."

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