Edmund Phelps is the McVickar Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University, Director of Columbia’s Center on Capitalism and Society and the winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Economics.
Early in his career, he became known for his research at Yale’s Cowles Foundation in the first half of the 1960s on the sources of economic growth. His demonstration of the golden rule savings rate, a concept related to work by John von Neumann, started a wave of research on how much a nation should spend on present consumption rather than save and invest for future generations.
Phelps was at the University of Pennsylvania from 1966 to 1971 and moved to Columbia University in 1971. His most seminal work inserted a microfoundation, one featuring imperfect information, incomplete knowledge and expectations about wages and prices, to support a macroeconomic theory of employment determination and price-wage dynamics. That led to his development of the natural rate of unemployment: its existence and the mechanism governing its size. In the early 2000s, he turned to the study of business innovation.
He was a charter member of the Economic Advisory council of the EBRD and wrote most of the Annual Economic Outlook, which appeared in September 1993. He has been a consultant at the U.S. Treasury Department, U.S. Senate Finance Committee, and Federal Reserve Board.
During the last 40 years he has published extensively in professional journals. Edmund Phelps is author of “Structural Slumps: The Modern Equilibrium Theory of Employment, Interest and Assets” and “Rewarding Work: How to Restore Participation and Self-Support to Free Enterprise” (both Harvard University Press).
In 2008 he was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, won the Premio Pico della Mirandola for humanism and the Kiel Global Economy Prize.
Alongside his interest in the functioning and performance of capitalist institutions, Phelps has also done research on the causes and cures of joblessness and low wages among disadvantaged workers.