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Bob Dylan Wins Nobel Prize For Literature

STOCKHOLM – Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature today “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition,” the Swedish Academy. At age 75, the legendary singer-songwriter, who won fame during the protest movements of the Sixties, still performs. His extraordinary career has been chronicled in films, books, and dozens of record albums.

Over the course of his career, which spans more than 50 years, Dylan has 11 Grammy Awards, as well as an Academy Award and a Golden Globe Award. He has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in May 2012.

IMAGE: Bob Dylan performs at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, May 5, 2004. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith/File Photo

Economist Critical Of Privatized Prisons Shares Nobel Prize

By Daniel Dickson and Ross Kerber

STOCKHOLM/CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (Reuters) – British-born Oliver Hart and Finland’s Bengt Holmstrom won the Nobel Economics Prize on Monday for work that addresses a host of questions from how best to reward executives to whether schools and prisons should be privately owned.

Their findings on contract theory have implications in such areas as corporate governance, bankruptcy law and political constitutions, said the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which announced the 8 million Swedish crown ($928,000) prize.

“This theory has really been incredibly important, not just for economics, but also for other social sciences,” said Per Stromberg, a member of the prize committee and professor at the Stockholm School of Economics.

Contract theory considers, for example, whether managers should get paid bonuses or stock options, or whether teachers or healthcare workers should be paid fixed rates or by performance-based criteria.

Holmstrom, a 67-year-old professor of economics and management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said he had been friends with Hart for decades and was thrilled to be sharing the award with him.

“He’s my closest intellectual friend here and a personal friend also. And he has been important for my thinking and I hope I have been important for his thinking,” he told Reuters Television at his home in Boston.

Hart, an economics professor at Harvard University, has focused on understanding which companies should merge and with what mix of financing, and when institutions such as schools, prisons and hospitals should be privately or publicly owned.

At Harvard since 1993, Hart has argued that the incentives for cost reductions in privatized services, such as private prisons in the United States, are typically too strong.

Hart thought his research could win him the prize at some point. He said he awoke about 4:40 a.m. EDT and wondered whether it was getting too late to get a telephone call.

“Then fortunately the phone rang,” Hart was quoted as saying on the official Twitter account of the Nobel Prize. “My first action was to hug my wife, wake up my younger son.”

Holmstrom has studied the setting of contracts for workers from teachers to corporate bosses. He concluded that in high-risk industries, pay should lean toward a fixed salary, while in more stable sectors pay should be more biased toward performance rewards.

Asked at a Cambridge, Massachusetts, news conference about the current high level of executive pay, Holmstrom said, “It is somehow demand and supply working its magic.”

But he said he was concerned about the state of income distribution and the unhappiness of many workers about stagnant wages and incomes.

“I’d much rather live in a society where this wasn’t happening,” he said. “But I’m not prepared to speak about the question about how to repair it” because it would mean tinkering with complex markets.

The nine academics who won Nobel prizes this year in medicine, physics, chemistry and economics included five Britons, a Frenchman, a Finn, a Dutchman and a Japanese.

Six of the winners, including all five Britons, are based at U.S. universities.

(Additional reporting by Anna Ringstrom, Johan Ahlander and Bjorn Rundstrom, Ian Simpson in Washington and Rob Massey with Reuters Television in Boston; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Andrew Hay)

IMAGE: Harvard University professor Oliver Hart reads congratulatory emails after winning the 2016 Nobel Prize for Economics at his home in Lexington, Massachusetts October 10, 2016. Jon Chase/Harvard University/Handout via Reuters

Cheers In France As Economist Tirole Wins Nobel

Stockholm (AFP) – Jean Tirole won the Nobel Economics Prize on Monday for research on reining in corporate giants, a second French award this season hailed as a slap in the face for “France bashers”.

“One of the most influential economists of our time,” the jury called Tirole, whose fellow countryman Patrick Modiano took the prize for literature last week.

“Most of all he has clarified how to understand and regulate industries with a few powerful firms,” it said of the 61-year-old professor at Toulouse 1 Capitole University.

Taming huge corporations, and ensuring they don’t reap huge profits at the expense of ordinary consumers, has emerged as a growing concern in recent years.

The global financial crisis — triggered by a small number of giant players in the banking sector — has further pushed the complex issue up the agenda for global policymakers.

“Banking is a very hard thing to regulate, and we economists have to do more work on this,” Tirole told the Nobel Committee after learning he had won the prize, worth eight million Swedish kronor ($1.1 million, 878,000 euros).

News of his win triggered delight in Paris — as well as a note of vindication from the French prime minister, irked by a string of articles decrying the morose state of the nation.

“After Patrick Modiano, yet another Frenchman has come to the fore: Congratulations to Jean Tirole!” Manuel Valls tweeted after the announcement. “Talk about thumbing your nose at ‘French-bashing’.”

Modiano’s win last week was already hailed as a boost for a country in the doldrums with a stagnating economy and deeply unpopular government.

President Francois Hollande said the prize puts the spotlight on “the quality of the research carried out in our nation.”

Tirole’s work, the Nobel jury said, has provided a framework for designing policies for a range of industries from banking to telecommunications.

His citation comes amid growing controversy over the market power of such companies as Amazon and Google.

“Drawing on these new insights, governments can better encourage powerful firms to become more productive and, at the same time, prevent them from harming competitors and customers,” the jury said.

The concentration of corporate power has been a key concern for policymakers since the 1980s, when advanced countries moved progressively to allowing markets a freer role.

The trend has been strengthened across industries by technological advances and globalization, which produced unprecedented wealth but also exacerbated inequality.

A lot of Tirole’s research has focused on motivation and salary, with regard to large companies and the rise in pay among the top tiers of leadership — like Wall Street chief executives.

But his Nobel Prize came for his work on oligopoly and game theory — or the study of how strategic interactions affect an outcome.

An oligopoly is a state of limited competition, a popular example being the cellular companies Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, which together control around 90 percent of the market. A monopoly, on the other hand, is the dominance of one seller in the market.

Tirole’s research has also shown how some companies — for example producers of widely-used but patented software — are able to dominate not just their own industry, but also related ones further down the production chain.

One of his chief contributions is the notion that market dominance works differently in different industries, according to the Nobel jury.

His research suggests, for example, that it can sometimes make sense to allow firms to undercut each other by setting prices below production costs — something traditionally disciplined under competition, or anti-trust, law.

“The best regulation or competition policy should therefore be carefully adapted to every industry’s specific conditions.”

The prize will be awarded at a ceremony in Stockholm on December 10, the anniversary of the death in 1896 of the prizes’ creator, Swedish scientist and philanthropist Alfred Nobel.

Appropriately for an economist who has dedicated much of his career to the study of monopolies, Tirole’s award reduces an American near-monopoly over the Nobel economics prize in recent years.

Over the past decade, 18 out 20 economics prize laureates have been from the United States, including one Israeli-American.

Last year, U.S. scholars Eugene Fama, Lars Peter Hansen and Robert Shiller won for their work on spotting trends in the asset markets.

The economics prize winds up this year’s Nobel season, marked by the award Friday of the peace prize to 17-year-old Pakistani Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi.

AFP Photo/Eric Cabanis

Endorse This: When Malala Yousafzai Stunned Jon Stewart

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This morning, the Nobel committee announced that the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to children’s rights activists Kailash Satyarthi and Malala Yousafzai.

When Yousafzai was up for the award one year ago, she appeared on The Daily Show – and left host Jon Stewart speechless. Click above to see her inspiring story, then share this video!

Video via Comedy Central.

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