Why haven’t global markets reduced inequality in developing economies? Why is Iran the only country in the world, where kidneys can legally be bought and sold? How could we possibly solve the “Innovator’s Dilemma” through the power of diversity? Those were just a few questions that the Nobel Laureates raised during the 5th Lindau Meeting of the Laureates of the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel.
by Alexander Binzer
This years’ Nobel Laureate meeting took place from 19-23 August, 2014. Throughout those five days, 19 Nobel Laureates and around 460 young scientists from more than 86 countries exchanged their ideas and expertise on central fields of economics ranging from game theory to systemic risk measurement. Keynote addresses by Angela Merkel and Queen Silvia of Sweden as well as a reading by Mario Vargas Llosa, who is a Nobel Laureate in Literature, supplemented the program. Consequently, the Lindau Meetings are clearly one of the landmarks on the agenda of the international scientific dialogue.
The original idea of the Lindau meetings goes back to the two Lindau physicians Dr. Franz Hein and Professor Dr. Gustav Parade as well as Count Lennart Bernadotte of Wisborg, who was a member of the Swedish royal family. They recognised the significance of the Lindau meetings for the reconciliation of the peoples of post-war Europe early and thus systematically developed it to an international forum for the exchange of knowledge between nations, cultures and disciplines. The first meeting was held in 1951 and ever since Nobel Laureates in physiology or medicine, physics, and chemistry have annually gathered in Lindau and inspired the next generation of researchers. In 2004, meetings on economic sciences have completed the set of Nobel disciplines in Lindau.
The overarching question of this year’s meeting was “How useful is economics – how is economics useful?”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel asked the Nobel Laureates in her opening speech why their discipline got so much wrong in recent years and challenged them to come up with new measures of wellbeing. In response, the Nobel Laureates criticized Germany’s policy to resolve the Euro crisis and referred to Harry Truman who famously asked to be sent a one-armed economist, being tired of having to hear “On the one hand, this” and “On the other hand, that” from his economic advisors. Global inequality, which has gained much public attention due to Thomas Piketty’s recent book, was another important topic that was widely discussed during the conference. From a CDTM perspective, the most interesting trend was probably Big Data and its implications on empirical research.
I got the chance to participate in this unique event through the CDTM’s cooperation with the Elite Network of Bavaria. As one of the academic partners of the Lindau Meeting, the Elite Network of Bavaria can nominate promising students and doctoral candidates that exhibit a strong research agenda to participate in the conference. Other partners include research institutions, national academies of science, universities or central banks. Similar to the CDTM, the Lindau Meeting is characterised by diversity. The participants come from a variety of national and scientific backgrounds providing a strong stimulus for interdisciplinary cooperation and exchange. Even though many topics are related to more classical macro- and microeconomics, there were also many participants whose research evolved around entrepreneurship and innovation.
Overall, Lindau was a truly amazing experience, since it offers a unique opportunity to get in touch with Nobel Laureates in an informal setting. Furthermore, it is also very inspiring to get to know other young scientists and to learn more about their research. Unfortunately, it is only possible to join the meeting once in a lifetime unless one wins the Nobel Prize. The 6th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting will take place next year from 28 June to 3 July. Then it will be an interdisciplinary event for the fields of physics, physiology or medicine, and chemistry.