Created 5/22/1998
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Notes for 1998 Commencement


J. Bradford DeLong

Eliot J. Swan Prize:

The Eliot J. Swan Prize is awarded each year to the second-year graduate student who had the most impressive record in his or her first year in the Berkeley graduate program. There is a strong sense in which awarding this prize to only one student masks reality. Worldwide, perhaps twice as many people are qualified for and would seek entrance to Economics Ph.D. programs than two decades ago, when I started thinking about where to go to graduate school. Yet there are not as many places in graduate programs today as in past decades. As a result, our graduate students today are truly impressively prepared and impressively dedicated--I know my own graduate student class is no match for those I now have the privilege to teach at Berkeley.

Thus it is an honor for me to award this year's Eliot J. Swan Prize to Mr. Federico Echinique-Monetti.


Ph.D. degrees:

To attain the Ph.D. degree is not easy, as any of those off to my left can tell you at great length. You must master the models, approaches, ideas, and findings of the discipline of economics. You must then use your mastery to demonstrate that you can make significant original contributions to the discipline.

But I want to focus not on what our Ph.D. candidates have done to reach this point but on what they will do in the future. About half of them will spend their professional lives as teachers and educators--teaching the economy and economics to students at all levels in universities and other educational institutions. About a quarter will spend their professional lives as practitioners of economic policy: applying the lessons of economics to shape the policies and decisions of public and private organizations. The other quarter will shift back and forth--and will be admired by practitioners for their deep knowledge of economic theory, and admired by academics for their real-world expertise.

And in so doing they will make the world a better place, as originators, extenders, transmitters, and appliers of the ideas of economics. For as John Maynard Keynes wrote at the end of his General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money:

"...the ideas of economists and political philosophers... are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority who hear voices in the air are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few yeras back. I am sure that the power of vested interests is vastly exaggerated compared with the gradual encroachment of ideas."

This it is my great privilege to present 1998's candidates for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Economics.

Professor of Economics J. Bradford DeLong, 601 Evans Hall, #3880
University of California at Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
(510) 643-4027 phone (510) 642-6615 fax

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