2010 TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award Winners

January 2011

The TIAA-CREF Institute presented the 2010 TIAA-CREF Paul A. Samuelson Award for Outstanding Scholarly Writing on Lifelong Financial Security to:

Carmen M. Reinhart
Dennis Weatherstone Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington D.C.

Kenneth S. Rogoff
Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics,
Harvard University

This Time is Different – Eight Centuries of Financial Folly
(Princeton University Press, 2009)

Combing through data from 66 countries and across five continents, Reinhart and Rogoff focused on patterns of currency crashes, high and hyperinflation, government defaults on international and domestic debts, housing and equity prices, capital flows, unemployment and government revenues to demonstrate that these crises are not isolated events.

Reinhart and Rogoff show how closely each of these events hew to a discernible and predictable pattern through the last eight centuries. The book provides realistic tools for future prevention of societal financial crises through the identification of critical recurring precipitating events.

A certificate of excellence is awarded in recognition of:

Sumit Agarwal
Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago

John C. Driscoll
Federal Reserve Board

Xavier Gabaix
New York University

David Liaison
Harvard University

The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions Over the Life Cycle and Implications for Regulation
(Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, The Brookings Institution)

While many consumers make poor financial choices, older adults are particularly vulnerable to such errors. The authors raise a red flag about the increasingly large and complex balance sheets of older adults, who will comprise a growing fraction of the population over coming decades. They study life-cycle patterns in financial mistakes using a proprietary database with information on 10 types of credit transactions. Financial mistakes include suboptimal use of credit card balance transfer offers and excess interest rate and fee payments. In a cross section of prime borrowers, middle-aged adults made fewer financial mistakes than either younger or older adults. They conclude that financial mistakes follow a U-shaped pattern, with the cost-minimizing performance occurring around age 53. Thus, both younger and older adults may need additional guidance and support from the financial services industry in order to avoid costly errors in the use of consumer credit. Older adults may be particularly vulnerable to such errors, since about half of the population between ages 80 and 89 have a medical diagnosis of substantial cognitive impairment. They analyze several approaches that may help individuals avoid financial mistakes, including disclosure, nudges, financial "driver's licenses," advance directives, fiduciaries, asset safe harbors, and ex post and ex ante regulatory oversight. These strategies will be useful to policy makers and financial firms who seek to help older adults confront the challenges of cognitive aging.

2010 Panel of Distinguished Judges

George A. Akerlof, University of California, Berkeley
Gary Engelhardt, Syracuse University
Amy Finkelstein, MIT
Judith R. Lave, University of Pittsburgh
Thomas Rietz, University of Iowa


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