I am delighted and honored to introduce Professor Alan Blinder as this year’s winner of the Daniel Patrick Moynihan Prize.
The Moynihan Prize honors those who “champion the use of informed judgment to advance the public good.” In the field of economics, I can think of no better example of such a champion than Alan Blinder. The very heart of his distinguished career has been advancing the use of informed judgment in economic policymaking.
As Alan has observed, in our political economy, there exist two neighboring tribes, sharing common interests but separated by cultural and language barriers. On one side of the border there is the academy, particularly social scientists, who work to assess the costs and benefits of public policies, actual and possible. On the other side are the policymakers, including elected officials as well as those who work at various government agencies. Folks on the academy side generally feel that the policymakers would make better policy if they paid more attention to academic work. Meanwhile, policymakers often look across that divide desiring that academic work pay more attention to the practical realities of policymaking.
Like Moynihan himself, Alan Blinder is that rare person who both transcends this barrier and recognizes its significance. As he made clear to the Senate during his confirmation process to become Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, “Academic economists are often aloof from practical policy debates; but I have not been.” And he has regularly called on his academic colleagues to “train their powerful tools on real-world issues instead of chasing intellectual will-o’-the-wisps.”
Alan’s academic work is a testimony to those principles. He has used the powerful tools of economics to address the critical policy topics of our time. From his pathbreaking work on the great stagflation of the 1970s, through his analysis of central bank structure, independence, and communications, to his research on financial crises and his masterful summary of the past 60 years of monetary and fiscal policy, Alan’s work is always policy relevant, rigorous, and crystal clear.