Nobel Prize: Six things to know about Jean Tirole

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Nobel Prize: Six things to know about Jean Tirole
French professor Jean Tirole, the winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Economics. Photo: Remy Gabaldi/AFP

French economist Jean Tirole picks up his Nobel Prize for Economics on Wednesday, a victory that French PM Manuel Valls said "thumbed the nose at French bashing". Here's six things to know about the economist everyone is talking about.


1. "One of the most influential economists of our time"
Tirole, who was born on August 9, 1953, in the city of Troyes, is a professor at the university in Toulouse, southern France and has long been tipped as a potential economics laureate.
The 61-year-old specialises in both the theoretical and practical application of game theory - the study of strategic decision making, as well as in industrial organisation.  For his important analysis of big companies, market power and regulation, the Nobel Prize jury said "he was one of the most influential economists of our time".
The jury argued that Tirole's work has provided a framework for designing policies for a number of industries, ranging from telecommunications to banking that could help governments manage mergers or cartels and regulate monopolies, the bank said.
The citation comes amid growing controversy over the market power of such companies as Amazon and Google.
2. Leader in his field

While little known outside his field, Tirole has racked up an impressive body of work that includes some 200 articles in economics and finance and has given scores of distinguished lectures. Tirole has written 11 books, including on the theory of industrial organisation. He holds some seven honorary doctorates from universities around the world.

3. Studied in the US

After studying engineering and mathematics in Paris, Tirole moved to the US to complete a PhD at the renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was a professor for eight years. 
4. Previous accolades
Aside from a multitude of academic distinctions, Tirole in 2007 won the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) Gold Medal, awarded to those who have made an exceptional contribution to the innovation and influence of French research.
He also in 1993 won the Yrjo Jahnsson prize of the European Economic Association, for economists who have made a significant contribution in theoretical and applied research.
In 2010, Tirole won two prizes, the Claude Levi-Strauss Prize for his significant contributions to the social sciences and the CME Group's Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Prize in Innovation Quantitative Applications.
5. Breaks US dominance of Nobel prize
Some 18 out of the last 20 winners of the Nobel Economics Prize have been from the US. Tirole laments this fact but understands why America has dominated the award in recent years. Earlier this month, he said the dominance of the United States in the category showed they had "invested heavily to attract the best economists. I greatly regret this, but at the same time, I cannot cry foul."
6. Third Frenchman to win Economics Prize:
Tirole follows in the footsteps of two French economists:
Gerard Debreu: He won in 1983 in the midst of a career spent in the United States for the most part. His work focused on proving the existence of general economic balance in a market economy.
He won the Nobel Prize "for having incorporated new analytical methods into economic theory and for his rigorous reformulation of the theory of general equilibrium," according to the Swedish central bank (Sveriges Riksbank).
Maurice Allais: He won in 1988 "for his pioneering contributions to the theory of markets and efficient utilization of resources," according to the Sveriges Riksbank.
Allais favoured market-based exchanges within a group of countries that had generally equivalent economies and could form a free-trade zone, but was protectionist with respect to trade between countries with very different economies.


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