Wolfson Economics Prize

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This article is about the 2012 and 2014 Wolfson Economics Prizes on the eurozone and new garden cities respectively. For the literary prizes, see Wolfson History Prize.
Wolfson Economics Prize 2012
Wolfson Economics Prize Logo.png
Awarded for the best exit plan for an EMU member state
Sponsor Simon Wolfson
Date 5 July 2012 (2012-07-05)
Country United Kingdom
Presented by Policy Exchange
Reward £250,000
First awarded 2012
Currently held by Roger Bootle and team (Capital Economics)
Official website www.policyexchange.org.uk
Wolfson Economics Prize 2014
Awarded for the best delivery plan for a new garden city
Sponsor Simon Wolfson
Date 3 September 2014 (2014-09-03)
Country United Kingdom
Presented by Policy Exchange
Reward £250,000
First awarded 2012
Currently held by David Rudlin (URBED)
Official website www.wolfsonprize.org.uk

The 2012 Wolfson Economics Prize was a contest for proposals on how the Eurozone could be safely dismantled.[1] The contest was initiated by Baron Wolfson of Aspley Guise and organised by the Policy Exchange think tank. The contest ended on 5 July 2012, when the Capital Economics team, led by Roger Bootle, won the prize.[2]

The second Wolfson Economics Prize was launched on 14 November 2013. The question for this new prize was “How would you deliver a new Garden City which is visionary, economically viable, and popular?”[3] It was won by David Rudlin of urban design consultancy, URBED.

2012 Prize[edit]

Launch[edit]

On 18 October 2011, British businessman and Conservative life peer Simon Wolfson launched a contest[note 1] that offered a £250,000 reward "for an individual to come up with a plan for how the euro could be safely dismantled."[1]

The deadline was set on 31 January 2012.[4]

Wolfson, at the launch, stated:

There is now a real possibility that political or economic pressure may force one or more states to leave the euro. If this process is mismanaged it could threaten European savings, employment and the stability of the international banking system. This prize aims to ensure that high quality economic thought is given to how the euro might be restructured into more stable currencies. Consideration will need to be given to what a post-euro eurozone would look like, how transition could be achieved and how the interests of employment, savers, and debtors would be balanced. Importantly, careful consideration must also be given to managing the potential impact on the international banking system.

The contest was organised by Policy Exchange, the London-based British think tank. Policy Exchange has been described as "the largest, but also the most influential think tank on the Right".[5] Policy Exchange describes itself as "an independent, non-partisan educational charity seeking free market and localist solutions to public policy questions."[6]

Simon Wolfson, Baron Wolfson of Aspley Guise, is chief executive of clothing retailer Next. He is the son of former Next chairman David Wolfson, Baron Wolfson of Sunningdale, also a Conservative life peer.

Scope of submissions[edit]

The organisers determined that submissions should focus on:[7]

  • Whether and how to redenominate sovereign debt, private savings, and domestic mortgages in the departing nations
  • Whether and how international contracts denominated in euros might be altered, if one party to the contract is based in a member state which leaves the European monetary union
  • The effects on banking system stability
  • The link between exit from EMU and sovereign-debt restructuring
  • How to manage the macroeconomic effects, including devaluation, inflation, confidence and effects on debts
  • Different timetables and approaches to transition (e.g. "surprise" redenomination versus signalled transitions)
  • How best to manage legal and institutional matters
  • Evidence from relevant historical examples (e.g. the end of various currency pegs and previous monetary unions)

Panel of judges[edit]

The panel of judges who would decide on the award was as follows:[8]

Submissions and finalists[edit]

Some of the world's top economists[11] were among the participants with a total of 425 entries.[12]

Among the entrants was 11-year-old Jurre Hermans from the Netherlands[13] who, notably, likened Greek debt to a pizza. Hermans' plan suggested that Greeks should be incented to return euros for debt repayment and, if they did not, should be fined at least the equivalent of what they held back. Returned euros would form, according to Hermans, what he described as "a giant pizza of money, slices of which would be handed back to creditors".[13]

Antal E. Fekete, Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at the Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada,[14] proposed a return to the gold standard.[15]

In his Daily Telegraph column, business journalist Jeremy Warner suggested that "there is no need for an award", since he has a "very simple plan": In any country that decided to leave the Eurozone, each euro would be swapped for one "new euro" plus units in the country's new currency in proportion to the country's share of eurozone GDP. For instance, if Greece were to leave, the euro would be split 97.5 percent "new euro" and 2.5 percent "new drachmas".[4]

Capital Economics, in their entry, stated that a country contemplating leaving the euro would have to "keep its plans secret until the last minute," introduce capital controls, start "printing" a new currency only after formal exit, seek a large depreciation, default on its debts, recapitalise busted banks and seek close co-operation with remaining eurozone members. "Such a rebalancing of the economy away from reliance on net exports would be in the interests of the whole of the current membership of the eurozone, as well as countries outside it”.

The short list of finalists[16] was:

Winning Entry[edit]

On 5 July 2012, Policy Exchange announced[17] that the winning entry was submitted by the team led by Roger Bootle from Macroeconomics research consultancy firm Capital Economics, titled Leaving the Euro: A Practical Guide.[11]

The proposal recommended that member-states who want to exit should introduce a new currency and default on a large part of their debts. The net effect, the proposal claimed, would be "positive for growth and prosperity". It called for keeping the euro for small transactions and for a short period of time after the exit from the Eurozone, along with a strict regime of inflation-targeting and tough fiscal rules monitored by "independent experts".[11]

The Roger Bootle/Capital Economics plan also suggested that "key officials" should meet "in secret" one month before the exit is publicly announced, and that Eurozone partners and international organisations should be informed "three days before".[11]

Roger Bootle said, after the announcement, "if executed correctly, the pain of exit would relatively soon be replaced by a return to growth," something that would encourage other distressed states still in the currency zone to exit as well, adding[16]

"The biggest danger of contagion will be if Greece makes a success of leaving the monetary union".

2014 Prize[edit]

Launch[edit]

On 14 November 2013, Simon Wolfson announced that he intended to offer a new £250,000 Prize to the entrant who best answers the question "How would you deliver a new Garden City which is visionary, economically viable, and popular?" He had previously expressed an interest in this topic in an article in The Times on 4 December 2012, and garden cities had in 2012 been cited as credible responses to the UK's housing shortage by both David Cameron and Nick Clegg, the UK's Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister respectively.

The deadline for submissions to the 2014 Prize was Monday 3 March 2014. Entrants were asked to submit an essay on the topic of up to 10,000 words (plus a 1,000 word non-technical summary).

Panel of judges[edit]

The panel of judges who would decide on the award is as follows:

  • Trevor Osborne FRICS, Trevor Osborne Property Group (chair of the judges)
  • Professor Denise Bower, Professor of Engineering at the University of Leeds
  • David Cowans, Group Chief Executive of Places for People
  • Pascal Mittermaier, Director of Sustainability for Europe, Middle East and Africa, Lend Lease
  • Tony Pidgley, Chief Executive of Berkeley Group

Submissions and finalists[edit]

On 14 April, Simon Wolfson announced that there had been 279 entries to the 2014 competition. The finalists were announced on 4 June 2014 and were:

Barton Willmore, led by James Gross. Barton Willmore is the UK’s largest independent planning led town-planning and design consultancy. Barton Willmore's entry sets out a ten-point plan for the delivery of a new garden city, arguing for the development of a cross-party consensus and the production of a National Spatial Plan to identify suitable locations for new garden cities. Garden City Mayors, heading up Garden City Commissions, would be appointed to champion garden cities and find specific locations for development.

Chris Blundell FRICS FCIH, Director of Development & Regeneration at Golding Homes. Chris is a development professional with over 30 years’ experience and has entered in a personal capacity with the support of Golding Homes. His entry argues that a garden city should accommodate between 30,000 and 40,000 people (about the size of Letchworth) and that its delivery should be led by Garden City Development Corporations.

David Rudlin of URBED, with Nicholas Falk (also URBED) and input from Jon Rowland (John Rowland Urban Design), Joe Ravetz (Manchester University) and Peter Redman (Managing Director, Policy and Research at TradeRisks Ltd). URBED is an urban design and research practice. David’s entry argues for the near-doubling of an existing large town in line with garden city principles, to provide new housing for 150,000 people (about the size of Oxford or Canterbury). The entry offers a proof of this ‘urban extension’ concept based on a fictional town called Uxcester.

Shelter, the leading housing and homelessness charity, led by their Head of Policy Toby Lloyd. This entry proposes a new garden city on the Hoo Peninsula (Medway, Kent) commencing with a settlement of up to 48,000 people (about the size of Welwyn Garden City) at Stoke Harbour as part of a larger cluster of settlements eventually totaling 150,000 people.) The entry proposes a model designed to attract massive private investment into the provision of high quality homes, jobs, services and infrastructure. The delivery model prioritises speed and volume over profit margins, aims to acquire land at low cost and transfer valuable assets to a Community Trust for the long term. Local people would be offered unique opportunities to invest in the city, including through buying shares.

Wei Yang & Partners in collaboration with Buro Happold Consulting Engineers, led by Pat Willoughby. Wei Yang & Partners is a London-based practice with an international portfolio of master planning, town planning, urban design and architectural projects. Dr Yang is also advising the Chinese Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development on its urbanization programme. Their entry argues that an ‘arc’ beyond the London Green Belt (stretching from Portsmouth to Oxford to Cambridge to Felixstowe) is the best location for the development of new garden cities; and that the Government should publish a New Garden Cities Strategy identifying broad ‘areas of search’ for suitable locations, with a 30 year timescale.

Winning Entry[edit]

The 2014 prize was announced on September 3rd 2014, at an awards ceremony in London. The Winner was David Rudlin of URBED, assisted by Nicholas Falk (also URBED) and with input from Jon Rowland (John Rowland Urban Design), Joe Ravetz (Manchester University) and Peter Redman (Managing Director, Policy and Research at TradeRisks Ltd). His concept revolved around the expansion and "greening" of existing cities, in a way which did not disturb their existing centres or green spaces.[18]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Prize is unrelated to the annual literary Wolfson History Prize that is sponsored by the Wolfson Foundation, from another branch of the Wolfson family.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "£250,000 reward for dismantling the Euro: British businessman offers cash prize for best escape route", Daily Mail, 19 October 2011
  2. ^ "Capital Economics wins Wolfson prize", Financial Times, 5 July 2012
  3. ^ [1]
  4. ^ a b "I'm claiming the £250,000 Wolfson prize for how to break-up the euro", Daily Telegraph, 6 January 2012
  5. ^ "The Right's 100 Most Influential: 50-26", Daily Telegraph, 2 October 2007
  6. ^ "About Economic & Social Policy", Policy Exchange website
  7. ^ "Launch of the £250,000 Wolfson Economics Prize", Policy Exchange press release, 18 October 2011
  8. ^ "Distinguished European economists join £250,000 Wolfson Economics Prize judging panel", Policy Exchange press release, 15 November 2011
  9. ^ Derek Scott obituary, The Guardian, 2 August 2012
  10. ^ Manfred Neumann CV, University of Bonn website (retrieved 19 March 2013)
  11. ^ a b c d "Wolfson prize for euro exit plan won by Roger Bootle", BBC News, 5 July 2012
  12. ^ "Eurozone crisis live: Wolfson Economics Prize shortlist revealed", The Guardian business blog
  13. ^ a b "Wolfson Prize: Schoolboy plan to save euro commended", BBC News, 3 April 2012
  14. ^ "How to Ensure the Stability of the New European Currencies?" by Antal E. Fekete
  15. ^ "A Footnote to the Wolfson Economics Prize Contest", Antal E. Fekete, 5 January 2012
  16. ^ a b "Eurozone exit plan wins Wolfson Economics Prize", The Independent, 5 July 2012
  17. ^ "Roger Bootle named winner of the Wolfson Economics Prize", Policy Exchange press release, 5 July 2012
  18. ^ BBC News http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29056829.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]