Leading economists from China, Italy, Russia, and the United States gathered at the Yale School of Management on September 12 for a conference to honor Robert J. Shiller, Yale's Sterling Professor of Economics and the winner of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences.
During the opening panel, focused on behavioral finance, Richard Thaler, an economist at the University of Chicago, said that Shiller's willingness to stand by his early research in the field, despite criticism, has led to lasting changes in behavioral finance and how economists study markets.
"The most remarkable thing about Bob is his courage," Thaler said. "He's willing to say and do things that are unconventional, unpopular, and he is persistent. He's done a lot of worrying on behalf of the world, but that worrying has been good for all of us."
Other panels at the event, hosted by the Yale Department of Economics and Yale SOM's International Center for Finance, explored Shiller's contributions to the study of housing markets, his Nobel Prize-winning research on asset prices, and his role in the creation of new financial instruments. Many of the panelists were former students and colleagues of Shiller's.
William N. Goetzmann, the Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies at Yale SOM and director of the International Center for Finance, said that Shiller has spent decades developing ways to use financial markets to help mitigate some of society's greatest risks.
He added that the conference was in the planning stages before Shiller won the Nobel Prize in 2013. "His recognition by the Nobel committee focused on his work in asset pricing," Goetzmann said. "However, he has been even more influential in the areas of behavioral finance, housing, and the importance of finance to society. The goal of this conference was to bring together the experts in these four fields who know Bob's work to discuss how it has influenced research and the broader world."