It’s Tuesday, December 10, 2013, and it’s Nobel Prize day. We had the morning open. I walked over to the Nobel Museum and purchased some gifts for my colleagues in the Provo. Then I walked back to my hotel room and tried to relax.
At 1:45 pm, it was time to start getting ready. After a quick shower, I started the process of putting on my tuxedo (tails and white bow tie). There were three studs in my shirt and I could only get two on. The maid, who was waiting to clean my room, helped me attach the third. I was then able to finish up, except now I couldn’t put on my bow tie. The maid again came to my rescue.
The helpful maid, Amira, is from Sudan, currently one of the most difficult places on the face of the world. She is Muslim, very nice, and certainly accommodating.
It was then off to a conference room in the Grand Hotel (where we were staying). There we took a variety of photographs. Unfortunately, Lars Peter Hansen–the Noble Prize Laureate–was not feeling well.
Then it was off to the Nobel ceremony at the Stockholm Concert Hall. We were bused there, and arrived plenty early. We took our assigned seats. After about a 30-minute wait, the King and Queen of Sweden arrived, and the ceremony began. The program alternated between musical numbers and award presentations. But first there was an opening address:
Alfred Nobel’s insight that the prize he established should be international right from the start, together with the careful work of the award committees, has been and is a prerequisite for the prestige the Nobel Prize enjoys.
The speaker also paid tribute to Nelson Mandela who had died earlier in the week. He was a past recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize.
At the award ceremony, they gave out the metals in bunches, first those for physics, then chemistry, then physiology or medicine, then literature, and finally economic science. The following was the introduction for my brother Lars:
Does long-term predictability necessarily mean that assets are priced incorrectly? It could instead be that low prices at a given point in time correctly reflect a high assessment of risk, or a high sensitivity to this risk, at that particular point in time. In order to test this risk-based theory, however, researchers needed new statistical tools. Lars Peter Hansen’s breakthrough was to develop the so-called Generalized Method of Moments, a tool that was to revolutionize not just research in finance but also empirical research in many other areas of economics.
After the King gave my brother his award, Lars bowed to the King, bowed to his introducer, and then bowed to the audience. As with the other recipients, there was then enthusiastic applause, particularly by Lars’s relatives and colleagues.
The banquet, which followed the award ceremony, was a small intimate affair for approximately 1,200. It was held in a large municipal court with a medieval atmosphere. Each award winner was allocated 14 tickets. The meal was a three course affair spreadout over 4 hours. Between each course, there was entertainment provided by 3 lovely ladies with beautiful voices performing light operatic pieces. They were accompanied by a male chorus.
After all the guests were seated, the Nobel Laureates, their significant others, royalty, and pols paraded down an elaborate stone stairway to the center of the hall . . . In a very equalitarian move, the Laureates and their wives were mixed in with royalty and pols. For example, one of the spouses was paired with the King of Sweden. Lars was paired with an elected Swedish representative to European Union. Because of where I was seated, at the end of a long banquet table, the King and his escort paraded right in front of me.
The menu for the night was:
- Guinea hen mosaic, carrot variation with Gotland truffle and chanterelle duxelle with truffle mayonaise
- Turbot cupola stuffed with Norwegian lobster, tartelette with lobster on a bed of cream cheese and spinach, pointed cabbage terrine, lobster sauce and almond potato puree
- Chocolate Silhouette with nougat and sea buckthorn explosion
Plus mineral water, champagne, wine, Guonstedt VO, and coffee. We were all served with very germanic efficiency. It was a sumptuous and delightful evening.
Toward the end of the banquet, a representative for each Nobel group was asked to make a short speech. Representing the economists was Eugene Fama of the University of Chicago. Lars cast the deciding vote in favor of Fama (over Robert Shiller). After the award ceremony was over, most went upstairs for some high-energy dancing. My sister-in-law was nice enough to briefly dance with me. I can now say that I have danced at a Nobel Prize Ball.
At midnight, before our coach turned into a pumpkin, we returned to our hotel.
Note: I feel like a society-page editor for the local newspaper.