Why no Asian Nobel economics laureates?

Fabled investor Jim Rogers brings up an important point: Why has there never been an Asian winner of the Nobel economics prize? Yet during the 44 years the prize has been awarded, it’s Asia’s economic dynamism that has astounded the world.

Meanwhile, economists in Europe and America, who have won all the economics prizes but one (for a professor at Hebrew University), have seen their own economies stagnate. It’s not a language problem because all major economics papers and books today are published in English. And the prize is awarded by Swedes on Sweden’s central bank.

Certainly, there have been stellar winners, such as free-market winners Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, James Buchanan and Ronald Coase. But most winners have been advocates of government controls, such as Robert Samuelson and Gunner Myrdal.

Rogers notes:

But 40 years later, the world is experiencing a historic shift from West to East. The great economic successes since 1969 are certainly not the United States or Europe. In this span, the US went from the largest creditor nation in the world to not just the largest debtor nation in the world, but the largest debtor nation in the history of the world. That U-turn may deserve a prize, but one that brings embarrassment rather than prominence.

Today, most major international creditor nations are found in Asia – economies like China, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Of course, America and California have enjoyed the vast growth of the computer industry. But even that is underpinned by most manufacturing, and even the engineering now, being done in Asia. America rules on software and design, but not in other areas.



Singapore has been the greatest economic success of the past four decades, but former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and Dr Goh Keng Swee, a former deputy prime minister who died in May,have never been acknowledged by Stockholm. And Dr Goh even held a degree from the London School of Economics.

China has also experienced huge economic success during this time, yet neither Deng Xiaoping nor any of his economists were ever awarded the prize.

Rogers also pokes fun at Paul Krugman (who is not directly named in the article), the most eminent and influential of living Nobel winners, especially because of his influential New York Times column:

In fact, one esteemed Nobel laureate published a paper in 1994 titled “The Myth of Asia’s Miracle” in the journal Foreign Affairs. The same winner proclaimed loudly in 2009 that it was untrue that huge amounts of Western assets had moved to Asia. Perhaps he had to try to cover for his 1994 paper. He has not returned his award. (This same laureate insisted this year that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac had nothing to do with the mortgage and housing collapse.)

I looked up Krugman’s paper of 20 years ago, “The Myth of Asia’s Miracle.” He actually wrote this, comparing the Asian growth to that of the Soviet Union in the 1950s:

Can there really be any parallel between the growth of Warsaw Pact nations in the 1950s and the spectacular Asian growth that now preoccupies policy intellectuals? At some levels, of course, the parallel is far-fetched: Singapore in the 1990s does not look much like the Soviet Union in the 1950s, and Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew bears little resemblance to the U.S.S.R.’s Nikita Khrushchev and less to Joseph Stalin. Yet the results of recent economic research into the sources of Pacific Rim growth give the few people who recall the great debate over Soviet growth a strong sense of deja vu. Now, as then, the contrast between popular hype and realistic prospects, between conventional wisdom and hard numbers, remains so great that sensible economic analysis is not only widely ignored, but when it does get aired, it is usually dismissed as grossly implausible.


What actually happened was that Stalin died in 1953. His successors, led by Khrushchev, freed most prisoners in the Gulag slave labor camps, which always consumed more resources than they produced; and freed some parts of the economy. And whereas Stalin executed his critics as “wreckers,’ even those trying to improve the system, the “thaw” after 1953 allowed limited criticism, provided it was intended constructively — such as to improve production methods.

The lessening of government controls seems similar to what happened in the Asian markets. First Japan enacted strong market reforms in the 1950s. Then the Asian “tigers” — South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore — enacted free market reforms. Then, massively, China switched from starvation-inducing communism to Deng’s market reforms. Vietnam followed.

Unlike in the Soviet Union, these were not just reductions in socialist controls, but full-blown, and increasingly thorough, market reforms. That’s why the Asian economies have kept booming.

By contrast, in the early 1970s, the Soviet economy faltered. It couldn’t keep up with the free economies. Everybody could see the contrast, for example, between East Germany and West Germany: same people, same language, different results.

Eventually, in 1989, the Berlin Wall was ripped down. In 1991 in the Soviet Union, the Communist Party was abolished and some market reforms were established. The Soviet Union broke part. Russia, despite many problems, is much better off than under communism.

Nowadays, it’s American and Europe, with their own growing governments and massive debt loads, that  resemble the Soviet Union in the early 1970s. No wonder Nobel economics laureate Krugman is our most famous economist.

The Asians should establish their own economics prize and give to their top free-market economists. Call it the Lao Tzu prize because the ancient philosopher said: “The people are hungery: It is because those in authority eat up too much in taxes.”



Write a comment
  1. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 31 January, 2014, 10:22

    In life it’s generally the squeaky wheel that gets the oil. From my experience asian people are modest people who go along to get along. I have never known an asian person to play the race card. Ever. Oh, I’m sure they exist but it’s a rarity. Their family values are reflected by their enrollment populations in the UC educational system. About half the students in our best universities are asian when they only account for maybe 9% of our population. Any reasonable person would find that remarkable in itself. I have a lot of respect for the asian culture. But they just aren’t the sort of people to throw a protest because one of their own has never received a Nobel in economics. Besides, they come from Norway, right? lol. Look, they awarded a Nobel to Obama. That should tell you what a Nobel is worth in real terms.

    But the committee recently nominated Ed Snowden for a Nobel. At least they got that one right.

    Reply this comment
  2. Donkey
    Donkey 31 January, 2014, 10:33

    You are right John the Asians should just start giving out their own awards, because they are not getting any awards from the west.

    As to the growth of the Asian markets, it can all be attributed to their endless supply of cheap labor and hungry people, it’s as simple as that my friend!! 🙂

    Reply this comment
  3. Wayne Lusvardi
    Wayne Lusvardi 31 January, 2014, 10:58

    This is a fascinating question that was asked 100 years ago by the sociologist and historian Max Weber. At that time there was no capitalism in Asia and he attributed it to Asian religion: Buddhism and Confucianism.

    What changed? I believe we are understating the role of U.S. to bring freedom and modernization to Japan, Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam and the U.K. to Singapore and Hong Kong. The Vietnam War was fought to protect Japan and the Asian Tiger nations as difficult as that may be to fathom by most Americans. The U.S. may have lost the battle of the Vietnam War but undisputably won the war as Capitalism took off in Asia afterward (but not in Vietnam) — a story that has been interpreted in terms of American retreat instead of Capitalism’s expansion.

    With the liberation of Asian nations, Asian religions changed. There is now a sort of brand of Confucianism that legitimates Capitalism. This is what happened during the Reformation in Europe when Protestantism broke off from Catholicism (which banned usury, lending, and profit making) and legitimated Capitalism and the Protestant work ethic.

    The social carriers of Capitalism are religious leaders who don’t get tapped for awards as economic thinkers. That was what Weber found and it is still true today.

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 31 January, 2014, 12:33

      “The social carriers of Capitalism are religious leaders who don’t get tapped for awards as economic thinkers.”

      What are you talking about? We don’t even practice ‘capitalism’ in America anymore. The chinese communists have a much purer form of capitalism than we do. Oh, Christianity and those who forced it on others were responsible for the bloodiest wars that this world has ever witnessed. Financial freedom and saving souls through the barrel of a gun. lol.

      Look at the outcome of our invasion of Iraq. We were going to give them ‘freedom and democracy’, right? Have you read the latest news? Jihad terrorists who were nonexistent in Iraq in Year 2000 have captured the cities of Falluja and Ramadi! lol.

      America goes to war to benefit America. Not to save the world. The reason we prospered after WW2 was because we helped destroy the economic productive capacity of the rest of the civilized world. We were the only one left standing to manufacture the goods needed by everyone else. But those days are gone. Now that we actually have to compete with the rest of the civilized global community we turn into the likes of communists whereby government bails out (owns) the means of production!!! lol. The incestuous relationship between the US government and big business in the last 10 years has been obvious to even the unsophisticated observer.

      So only white people are capable of economic brilliance!!! LOL! Laughable!!!

      Reply this comment
      • Wayne Lusvardi
        Wayne Lusvardi 31 January, 2014, 13:14

        The above discussion is on Capitalism in Asia and in the U.S. circa 1900.

        Thank you for articulating the Libertarian-Leftist position on this issue for all to read it.

        Reply this comment
        • LetitCollapse
          LetitCollapse 31 January, 2014, 14:48

          No. The original discussion was about why no one of asian descent has been awarded a Nobel in economics. You veered off track and began to discuss how America saved the asians from themselves. lol. I guess that was accomplished by invading their lands, dropping atomic bombs on their cities and killing them off by the millions.

          Look how we Americans liberated the native indians who were here long before we arrived. We destroyed their way of life and killed off most of their population. What did Weber say about them? That we knew what was in their best interests, so we wiped them out? lol. So very liberating! lol.

          Everywhere we’ve gone we’ve left a trail of blood and destruction. Now, to be fair, that’s not to say that America has not accomplished some great things and that we haven’t made some significant contributions to this old world. But most of what we do is totally self-serving and is done to benefit the wealthiest segments of our society. Not the common man who continues to lose ground from the perspective of standard of life. Obama even admitted to this at his recent SOTU address. He admitted his promise to elevate the middle class failed miserably. The top 5% continue to rob the bottom 95%.

          You can label me a “Libertarian-Leftist” or whatever you want. That’s a nice wildly inaccurate deflection. If you’ve read my stuff here you would know that I’m about the farthest thing from a “Libertarian-Leftist”. I am owned by NO political organizations. I am a slave to NO political ideology. I am simply promote right over wrong, truth over deception and freedom over enslavement and justice over injustice.

          The asian people have proven to me by their overwhelming disproportionate numbers in our UC schools of higher education that they are academically a cut above the other ethnic groups in California. And as a group they deserve full credit and praise for what they’ve accomplished. It reflects the values of their culture. And for the asians to show such excellence in the academic world and not receive due recognition by the Nobel committee indicates to me that something stinks in Norway!

          Reply this comment
  4. Queeg
    Queeg 31 January, 2014, 11:18

    A bunch of beer belly and schnapps noses in dank Euro winter caves made the awards rules..

    The original uber globalists.

    Then called colonists!

    Reply this comment
  5. LetitCollapse
    LetitCollapse 31 January, 2014, 12:44

    Didn’t they give Paul Krugman a Nobel in economics??? LOL!!!

    If that doesn’t prove the absurdity of the Nobel award system…there’s nothing I can do to help you.

    They gave Obama a Nobel Peace Prize and he’s been killing school children over in Pakistan with drones!!! Obama unilaterally waged a massive attack on the soverign nation of Libya with the consent of Congress and paved the way for the assassination of the sitting Libyan President – all in violation of the War Powers Act of 1973 and the international laws according to the Geneva Convention!!! And he has a Nobel Peace Prize hanging on the Oral Office wall!!! LOL!!!

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 31 January, 2014, 12:45

      ^^^^^^ correction.

      that should read “withOUT the consent of Congress”….

      Nothing follows.

      Reply this comment
    • SkippingDog
      SkippingDog 3 February, 2014, 21:03

      They also gave a Nobel in Economics to Milton Friedman, whom most of you supply-side nuts continue to revere long after his ideas have proven themselves as cold and now empty as his corpse.

      Reply this comment
  6. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 1 February, 2014, 08:48


    This Collapso does he like anyone or anything?

    He appears to be your alpha dog….pity…..ya led like sheep.

    Reply this comment
    • LetitCollapse
      LetitCollapse 1 February, 2014, 09:34

      I love REAL people. People who actually say what they see with their eyes and hear with their ears without letting political ideology think for them. I love independent critical thinkers. I love people who don’t hesitate to question BOTH sides of the aisle. I LOVE people who aren’t played for fools by a system that that threw them overboard 20 years ago. I love REAL people.

      This is an example of people who I LOVE. THESE are the people who I would invite in my place for dinner. THESE are the people who I would give the shirt off my back for. THESE are the people I would crawl out of bed for at 3am if they needed my help.

      Here is an example of THESE people:

      Reply this comment
      • LetitCollapse
        LetitCollapse 2 February, 2014, 17:16

        What happened to SteeLOL’s youtube video of the talking German Shepard? Why was it removed? Hmmm?

        Reply this comment
        • LetitCollapse
          LetitCollapse 2 February, 2014, 17:29

          It was under a different blog, little buddy.

          ‘mon back….’mon back, peddler…….

          (beatcha to it, steeLOL)

          Reply this comment
  7. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 2 February, 2014, 20:53

    Short and sweet….great.

    Reply this comment

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