Gerard Debreu, 1921-2005

Another great economist, Gerard Debreu, winner of the 1983 Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, has also died.  Debreu was known for his work on general equilibrium, his proofs of the first and second fundamental theorems of welfare economics, and the integration of uncertainty into general equilibrium through state-contingent commodities.

“Mr. Debreu won the Nobel for his work on a mathematical approach to one of the most basic economic problems: how prices function to balance what producers supply with what buyers want.

A slender 100-page book he wrote that was published in 1959, ‘Theory of Value: An Axiomatic Analysis of Economic Equilibrium,’ is considered a classic of the field.

. . .

In contrast to other winners in economics, Mr. Debreu focused on basic research rather than applications of economic theory.

‘You would not get much of an economic policy discussion out of him,’ Assar Lindbeck, chairman of the panel that reviewed nominations for the Nobel committee, said when he announced the award to Mr. Debreu 21 years ago. ‘He is the kind of teacher who starts in the top left corner of the blackboard, fills it with formulae and reaches the bottom right corner at the end of the class.'”