3 Win Economics Nobel for Job Market Analysis

The Associated Press

STOCKHOLM – Two Americans and a British-Cypriot economist won the 2010 Nobel economics prize Monday for developing a theory that helps explain why many people can remain unemployed despite a large number of job vacancies.

Federal Reserve board nominee Peter Diamond was honored along with Dale Mortensen and Christopher Pissarides with the 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.5 million) prize for their analysis of the obstacles that prevent buyers and sellers from efficiently pairing up in markets.

Diamond — a former mentor to current Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke — analyzed the foundations of so-called search markets, while Mortensen and Pissarides expanded the theory and applied it to the labor market.

Their work, dating back to the 1970s and ‘80s, sheds light on why the classical view of markets, in which prices are set so that buyers and sellers always find each other and all resources are fully utilized, doesn’t always apply to the real world.

One example is the housing market, where buyers can struggle to find new homes even though there are a number of unsold properties available.

Another is the labor market. Because searching for jobs takes time and resources, it creates friction in the job market, helping explain why there are both job vacancies and unemployment simultaneously, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said.

“The laureates’ models help us understand the ways in which unemployment, job vacancies and wages are affected by regulation and economic policy,” the citation said.

Their work resulted in the so-called Diamond-Mortensen-Pissarides model, a frequently used tool to estimate how unemployment benefits, interest rates, the efficiency of employment agencies and other factors can affect the labor market.

“One conclusion is that more generous unemployment benefits give rise to higher unemployment and longer search times,” the academy said.

Diamond, 70, is an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an authority on Social Security, penvexing” in her state.

The No. 2 House Republican, Rep. Eric Cantor of Virginia, said a national moratorium would remove the protections that lenders need.

“You’re going to shut down the housing industry” with a national stoppage, Cantor said. “People have to take responsibility for themselves.”

In recent days, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., in a tough re-election race, urged five large mortgage lenders to suspend foreclosures in his state until they establish ways to make sure homeowners don’t lose their homes improperly. Attorney General Eric Holder said that the government is looking into the matter, and Democratic lawmakers urged bank regulators and the Justice Department to probe whether mortgage companies violated laws in handling foreclosures.

The attorneys general of up to 40 states plan to announce a joint investigation soon into banks’ use of flawed foreclosure paperwork, a person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press late Saturday.

On Friday, Bank of America became the first bank to halt foreclosures in all 50 states. Three other institutions — JPMorgan Chase & Co., Ally Financial’s GMAC Mortgage unit and PNC Financial — have stopped foreclosures in the 23 states where foreclosures must be approved by a judge.

President Barack Obama vetoed a bill last week that would have made it easier for banks to approve foreclosure documents, which the White House said could hurt consumers.

Axelrod spoke on CBS’ “Face the Nation” while Wasserman Schultz and Cantor appeared on “Fox News Sunday.”