US Nobel economists longtime friends, rivals

WASHINGTON, 2011 (AFP) – Christopher Sims and Thomas Sargent are friendly rivals whose careers have tracked each other’s from the time they were Harvard doctoral students to Monday’s announcement that they had both won the 2011 Nobel Economics Prize. As it happened, Sims and Sargent, both 68, were teaching a class together at Princeton University when they learned they were being honored for their work analyzing the causal relationships between economic activity and policy actions.

“I couldn’t be happier to be getting this prize, especially with Tom, whom I’ve known for many years,” Sims said in a joint news conference with Sargent at Princeton, hours before their joint class, “Advanced Macroeconomic Theory I.”

Sargent joked that the two had longstanding disagreements over the years, revealing that when Sims would read one of his papers, “his comments start like this — ‘this paper is deeply flawed.'”

“Chris isn’t always the easiest person to understand” but “he’s been extremely generous in commenting on papers,” Sargent said, who is a professor at New York University.

Sims said that “we’ve had a series of continuing arguments, some of which are still going on,” but that both work on “an approach to economics that recognizes the unc