Former Yale professor Christopher Sims, who now teaches at Princeton, was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences along with New York University professor Thomas Sargent on Monday.
Sims and Sargent, who will share the monetary award of 10 million Swedish kronor, or $1.5 million, were honored for research that illuminates the causal relationship between economic policy and macroeconomic variables. Though Sims has taught at Princeton since 1999, he had already begunthe work that earned him a Nobel Prize during his nine-year tenure at Yale, and Yale professors interviewed said they were happy to see Sims receive the award.
“[Sims] is kind of an academic purist and doesn’t often speak to the press, and it’s good to see that he gets this type of recognition for his work,” said economics professor Robert Shiller.
Shiller, who was a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology when he first heard Sims speak at an event, said Sims has critiqued economic models that rely on assumptions. Sims approached data like a statistician, Schiller said, looking for basic patterns with a “refreshing” respect for data rather than trying to confirm specific theories.
“This work continued a longstanding tradition of time series econometric research at Yale’s Cowles Foundation that goes back to earlier Nobel laureates in economics at Yale,”economics professor Peter Phillips said in an email Monday.
President Richard Levin, who as chair of the Yale economics department recruited Sims to Yale, said he was “delighted to see [Sims] win the prize” and was disappointed when Sims decided to leave Yale.
During his tenureat Yale from 1990 to 1999, Sims taught both macroeconomics and econometrics.Phillips saidSimshad a substantial impact on both these programs, adding thathealso served as the director of graduate studies for the Economics Department from 1992 to 1994.
Sims could not be reached for comment Monday.
Shiller saidthat Sims was not afraid to challenge his students, and would often write extremely difficult questions on graduate school exams.
Still, Schiller added that Sims had a devoted following of graduate studentsand that Simswas generally known as “the smartest guy in the room.” Donald Andrews, a professor of economics at Yale, said in a Monday email that Sims was a “terrific adviser” to students.
“He was a great colleague when he was here and we were sad to see him leave,” Andrews said. “He was passionate (and still is) about his research and its potential to help the individuals who feel the brunt of economic downturns most heavily.”
Sims is the third tenured Princeton faculty member to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics Sciences during the last decade. The other two, Paul Krugman ’74 and Daniel Kahneman, won prizes in 2008 and 2002, respectively.