I got to attend the Sargent-Sims Nobel Prize celebration dinner at the UofC thanks to my wife.  Feelings of alienation were dissipated by the sight of Marco Battaglini and Steve Coate who are pretending to be macroeconomists these days.  And Golosov was wearing his macro hat that night.   So, I began feeling comfortable, if not exactly at home.

Some of my wife’s grad student cohort were also attending. They turned out to be very nice and they all recalled friendly dinners and student group interactions from days of old. Harvard wasn’t so friendly. I wondered why supposedly cutthroat Chicago types weren’t as competitive as the Harvard pinko liberals. It turns out surviving the first year at Chicago was so hard – a substantial chunk of the class was kicked out (is this still the case?) – that they had to stick together to “beat the system”.  A sort of communism was the byproduct.  At Harvard, it was less draconian and the natural tendency of economists is to be competitive – we study the benefits of competition after all. We ended up as (over-)confident mini-entrepreneurs.

The dinner finished with a bunch of speeches. Marty Eichenbaum recalled the heady days as a grad student on the frontline of the Minnesota revolution.  Tao Zha described the bittersweet experience of working with both Sargent and Sims – Sargent withdrew their accepted joint paper at AER after it received withering criticism from Sims and Sims withdrew their nearly accepted joint paper at Econometrica. These guys have high standards.  Lucas identified the key scientific contributions made by Sims and Sargent. Ed Prescott gave a surreal speech comparing Prescott-Sargent-Sims-Wallace to the back line of some famous Notre Dame football team from the 1920s (the “Four Horsemen of Notre Dame”).  The front line, “the mules”, were the Minnesota grad students who actually fought in the Revolution. (Sidenote: It is better to be horseman than a mule – see Mort Kamien entry below).  Hansen’s speech started with the observation that he was a mule!

Finally, we had Sargent and Sims or rather Sims then Sargent.  Sims pointed out there were some earlier Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  He mapped the Minnesota four into their Biblical counterparts as follows: Sargent=Conquest, Sims=Pestilence, Prescott=War and Wallace=Death (I may have inverted these!).  Sargent had a second-mover advantage which he employed to great effect.  He recalled a conference at Urbana-Champaign organized by In-Koo Cho. Hansen and Sargent arrived at the airport at same time as Sims.  Sims had rented a car and went to get it while Hansen and Sargent wrote a couple of their joint papers in the airport.  He returned and went inside to get them, leaving the car running with key inside.  The doors had an  autolock feature and they couldn’t get back in!  Hansen and Sargent got a taxi and left Sims to deal with the mess on is own.  With that the dinner was over.