2009 TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award Winners 

January 2009

The TIAA-CREF Institute presented the 2009 TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security to:

George A. Akerlof
Koshland Professor of Economics
University of California, Berkeley

Robert J. Shiller
Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics
Yale University

"Animal Spirits: How Human Psychology Drives the Economy, and Why it
Matters for Global Capitalism"
(Princeton University Press, 2009)

The main contribution of “Animal Spirits” is to provide a plausible explanation for the often volatile activity that plagues financial markets and the economy, and to serve as a guide for managing these forces. The research question studied by Akerlof and Shiller is John Maynard Keynes’ famous claim that psychological forces, so called “animal spirits,” drive the economy. Moreover, if the economy is susceptible to psychology – such as the unfounded belief that housing or asset prices can do nothing but rise – what can government do to modulate the effect of these forces?

Akerlof and Shiller find copious evidence that psychology drives economic behavior in realms of activity from central banking through saving through real estate and financial markets, and call for active government policies to set sensible rules so that markets can function freely, well and without extreme swings. By exploring how psychology affects these markets, Akerlof and Shiller provide a valuable lesson to policymakers seeking to stabilize them.

2009 Panel of Distinguished Judges

Gary Engelhardt, Professor of Economics, Maxwell School of Citizenship and
Public Affairs, Syracuse University
Amy Finkelstein, Professor of Economics, MIT
Judith R. Lave, Professor of Health Economics, University of Pittsburgh
John Karl Scholz, Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Luis M. Viceira, George E. Bates Professor, Harvard Business School


© 2014 and prior years, Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association - College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), New York, NY 10017