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8 September 2014updated 24 Jun 2021 12:58pm

Shortlist announced for the New Statesman/SPERI prize in political economy

Six world-class thinkers have been shortlisted for the inaugural New Statesman/SPERI prize in political economy, which will be announced in October.

By Helen Lewis

The shortlist for the inaugural New Statesman/SPERI prize in political economy has been announced. The award is a collaboration between New Statesman magazine and the Sheffield Political Economy research institute.

The Prize will be awarded biennially, starting in 2014, to the scholar who has succeeded most effectively over the preceding two or three years in disseminating original and critical ideas in political economy to a wider public audience. The first winner of the Prize will be announced in October and will deliver the New Statesman SPERI Prize Lecture in London at the Royal Institution in November. He or she will also be invited to publish an essay in the New Statesman.

Below are the shortlisted candidates, selected on 4 September by the judging panel: Helen Lewis, deputy editor of the New Statesman; political editor George Eaton; Tony Payne, professor of Political Economy and Director of SPERI at the University of Sheffield; Andrew Gamble, professor of Politics at the University of Cambridge and Chair of the International Advisory Board of SPERI; Sarah O’Connor, economics Correspondent at the Financial Times; Gavin Kelly, chief executive of The Resolution Foundation.


Ha-Joon Chang

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Chang, a reader in economics at the University of Cambridge, is a great populariser of political economy. His most recent books, 23 Things They Don’t Tell You about Capitalism and Economics: A User’s Guide, make the field accessible to both students and lay readers.  His earlier coinage of the phrase ‘kicking away the ladder’ – to describe how developed countries tried to stop developing ones from using the same policies that had helped them get rich – has been enormously influential. The judges noted in particular his gift for lucidity and clear analysis.

Mariana Mazzucato

Mazzucato is a professor in the economics of innovation at the University of Sussex.  She is an accomplished broadcaster and writer, and her 2013 book The Entrepreneurial State contained a wealth of examples showing how the state – not just the private sector – could foster innovation. The judges praised the originality of her thinking, her willingness to challenge the conventional wisdom and her capacity take her arguments forward with gusto.

Thomas Piketty

Piketty is a professor at the Paris School of Economics and author of the book Capital in the 21st Century.  With it he has achieved a remarkable feat: the book is not only one of the year’s most talked-about volumes, but offers a bold, broad analysis of inequality.  The judges felt Piketty’s work hit the political moment beautifully and has provided a fixed reference point for all debates on the subject since.  They admired both his ambition and literary flair.

Wolfgang Streeck

Streeck is one of the directors of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Germany.  He has long offered a first-rate analysis of the ‘German model’ of the social market economy and of European social democracy more generally, highlighting both their strengths and limits.  His research has always been deepened by the time he has spent as a political adviser.   The judges noted with interest that his writing has become notably more pessimistic in recent years.

Anne Wren

Wren’s work on the service economy deserves to be better known.  The judges said that reading her work on low wages in the services sector had the effect of ‘turning on a light-bulb’ for them and noted that The Political Economy of the Service Transition was ‘a book for our times’.  As a research associate of the Institute for International Integration Studies at Trinity College, Dublin, she combines economic insight with political acuity.

Simon Wren-Lewis

Wren-Lewis is a leading macro-economist who will become Professor of Economics at the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford from October.  He talks to a mainstream audience and writes clearly about complex issues without dumbing down.   The judges particularly admired his blog, where he launches himself into the public debate around his subject with polemical passion.  His work on fiscal rules was thought to be very much ‘of the moment’.


The prize winner will be announced in October.