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6 July 2016

Shortlist announced for the 2016 NS Speri prize for political economy

Five world-class political economists vie for the prize, which is announced in September.

By Helen Lewis

Five world-class academics have been nominated for this year’s New Statesman Speri Prize.

The award is a collaboration between the New Statesman and the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute (SPERI) at the University of Sheffield. It is given to the scholar who has succeeded most effectively in disseminating original and critical ideas in political economy to a wider public audience over the preceding two or three years. It carries an honorarium and an invitation to give a New Statesman/SPERI lecture in London. 

The shortlist this year is:

Tony Atkinson

A senior research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford, and Centennial Professor at the London School of Economics, Atkinson has researched poverty and inequality for decades, and has inspired a generation of scholars to enter the field, including Thomas Piketty. He works on income distribution, and co-authored Lectures In Public Economics with Joseph Stiglitz.

Wendy Carlin

Carlin is professor of Economics at University College London, research fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research in London, and a fellow of the European Economic Association. She is leading the CORE project, which aims to reform the undergraduate economics curriculum. “We impose a curriculum that is increasingly remote from what economists now know, and more distant still from the pressing problems that drew our students to economics in the first place,” she wrote in 2013.

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James K. Galbraith

An academic who writes regularly in the mainstream media, Galbraith is a professor at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs and at the Department of Government, University of Texas at Austin. During the financial crisis, he argued strongly in favour of Keynesian policies, and in 2014 he wrote The End of Normal: The Great Crisis and the Future of Growth.

Philippe van Parijs

In recent years, the idea of universal basic income has moved from the margins to the mainstream, finding favour with both Silicon Valley libertarians and the radical left. Van Parijs has been an eloquent proponent of the concept, and is also a professor at the Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium. 

Simon Wren-Lewis

The respected macroeconomist has advised the Bank of England and is now a professor of economic policy at the Blavatnik School of Government, Oxford University. He is the author of a lively, frequently updated and widely read blog, Mainly Macro, Wren-Lewis is committed to presenting his ideas in an accessible, challenging way for both economists and non-economists. Recent subjects have included the economic untruths peddled in the Brexit debate, and how academics might have better engaged with the public. 


The first biennial prize was won in 2014 by Mariana Mazzucato, a professor in the economics of innovation at the University of Sussex. 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.

The Prize Jury is Helen Lewis, Deputy Editor of the New Statesman; George Eaton, Political Editor of the New Statesman; Professor Tony Payne, Director of SPERI; Professor Andrew Gamble, professorial fellow, SPERI; Rachel Laurence of the New Economics Foundation; and Lord (Stewart) Wood, former adviser to Ed Miliband.  

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