A French researcher whose life's work has been devoted to regulating large companies has won the Nobel Prize for Economics. Jean Tirole, scientific director of industrial economics at Toulouse University, was named the 2014 winner of the Economics Nobel prize on Monday "for his analysis of market power and regulation," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.
A mathematician by training, Tirole's work focuses heavily on game theory and information theory, which focuses on how people use strategic information. His research is focused on the problems that regulators often face when taming oligopolies. Tirole, 61, has advocated for tailored approaches in favor of blunt regulations such as price caps. In 2013, he contributed to a report that called to "complete the euro" with deeper European integration. His research on "Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation" challenges the notion that individuals always respond to incentives.
The economics prize’s full title is "The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel." The academy said Triole's work had "breathed new life into research on such market failures." It said Triole has shown that the best regulation should carefully be adapted to each specific industry.
"His analysis of firms with market power provides a unified theory with a strong bearing on central policy questions: how should the government deal with mergers or cartels, and how should it regulate monopolies?” the academy said. "Tirole showed theoretically that such rules may work well in certain conditions, but do more harm than good in others. Price caps can provide dominant firms with strong motives to reduce costs -- a good thing for society -- but may also permit excessive profits -- a bad thing for society. Cooperation on price setting within a market is usually harmful, but cooperation regarding patent pools can benefit everyone. The merger of a firm and its supplier may encourage innovation, but may also distort competition.”
Tirole's articles and books on designing regulation policies allow governments to "better encourage powerful firms to become more productive and, at the same time, prevent them from harming competitors and customers,” the academy continued, according to the Guardian.
In 2013, the award was shared by three individuals: Eugene F. Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert J. Shiller. The first prize in economics was awarded in 1969 in honor of the 300th anniversary of the Bank of Sweden, the world’s first central bank, according to the New York Times.
Tirole is also the winner of the CNRS Gold Medal, the highest award in France for scientific research. He previously taught at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he completed a doctorate in economics in 1981. His books include "The Theory of Industrial Organization," "A Theory of Incentives in Procurement and Regulation" and "The Prudential Regulation of Banks."