Chapter 10: George A. Akerlof
University of California at Berkeley, CA, USA © Peter Badge/Typos1 in cooperation with the Foundation Lindau Nobelprizewinners Meetings at Lake Constance, all rights reserved. The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2001 shared with A. Michael Spence and Joseph E. Stiglitz, all three ‘for their analysis of markets with asymmetric information’. INTRODUCTION ‘Let’s not stay here in the office. Everything is grey here. They even painted the walls grey, did you see? I hate grey. I just hate it. Let’s go outside and get some light and air’. It’s true, it’s a warm sunny day, so why stay indoors for our interview? George A. Akerlof seems to have itchy feet anyway. He’s visibly uneasy at first. Constantly in motion. Almost a little shy, tense. And also, whether it’s about those freshly painted grey walls in the hallway at Berkeley’s Evans Hall that truly disturb his aesthetic sense, or about some possible nuisances that others might suffer – George Akerlof is permanently tuned to the world around him. He’s always trying to be helpful, and his very receptive radar system never gives him a break. He’s gentle, sensitive and considerate to a point to make you feel guilty. When we sit down at the Caffe Strada on Bancroft Way, nice steaming café lattes in front, it’s not for long. After only a couple of minutes, he interrupts himself: ‘Are you sure your microphone is strong enough? It’s 198 George A. Akerlof 199 pretty noisy here.’ He’s right, the...
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