By awarding the Nobel memorial prize for economics to three pre-eminent researchers on the causes and remedies for poverty, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has not just honoured a particular body of academic work but given a shot in the arm for the broader standing of the economics profession itself.

The failure to foresee the financial crisis as well as the neglect of growing inequalities for a long time has reinforced an image of the academic economists as so many Panglosses, too caught up in their own other-worldly models to see the world as it is.

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