Nicknames for all-star economists

Authored by

Owen A. Lamont, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, Portfolio Manager, Research

Cool people have cool nicknames. Here are some people who are not cool: Economists. Our collective nickname is “the dismal science.”

Time for some rebranding. In this piece, I propose new nicknames for prominent economists.

Existing nicknames

There are a small number of satisfactory nicknames out there that we can build on. Nicknames from the world of finance and economics include:

  • “Helicopter Ben.” Fairly accurate name for Ben Bernanke, my former colleague at Princeton and, in my view, a hero who helped prevent Great Depression II.
  • “Super Mario.” Mario Draghi of the ECB.
  • “J-Pow.” Jerome Powell.
  • “The Oracle of Omaha.” Warren Buffett.
  • “Dr. Doom.” Used over the years to describe both Henry Kaufman and Nouriel Roubini.

Proposed new names

Here are my ideas for new nicknames. Just to be clear: I’m trying for affectionate nicknames for people I like, as opposed to insulting nicknames for people I don’t like.

Adam Smith: The Invisible Handyman. The Edinburgh Kid.

Smith’s current nickname, “The Father of Economics,” needs punching up.

Irving Fisher: Permanently High Irving.

A giant of 20th century economics, Fisher is today mostly remembered for his statement on October 16, 1929 that stock prices had reached “what looks like a permanently high plateau.” Fisher was responding to Roger Babson (for whom Babson College is named), a crackpot who predicted a market crash. Lesson: sometimes when a genius and a crackpot disagree about future events, the crackpot lucks out. Far from being “permanently high,” Fisher was an abstemious man who campaigned against alcohol and tobacco, and was a prominent supporter of Prohibition.

Friedrich von Hayek: Road Warrior. Serfin’ U.S.A.

Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom was published in 1944.

James Tobin: Jimmy Two Funds. The Tax Man. Q.

Tobin is responsible for the “two-fund separation theorem,” the “Tobin tax” on trading, and “Tobin’s q.”

George Akerlof: Georgie Lemons.

Akerlof’s “The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism” was published in 1970.

Eugene F. Fama: Eventually Five Factors. The Greatest.

Fama rocked the world of academic finance with the three-factor model in 1993, then took it up a notch with the five-factor model in 2015 (both coauthored with Kenneth French).

Lawrence H. Summers: The Secular Stag. Summer Breeze.

Summers proposed “secular stagnation” as an economic problem in 2013.

Robert J. Shiller: Excessively Volatile Bob. The CAPE Crusader.

Shiller argues that stock prices are excessively volatile and suggests using the Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings (CAPE) ratio.

John Y. Campbell: Johnny Cash Flow. Long John Loglinear. The Decomposing Man.

Campbell advocates using a log-linear approximation to decompose return variance into cash flow news and return news.

Richard H. Thaler: The Nudgemaster General.

The latest edition of Nudge, co-authored with Cass Sunstein, came out in 2021.

David Hirshleifer: Turkey Dave.

Hirshleifer’s presidential address to the American Finance Association1, while excellent, is mostly remembered for the creepy turkey video2 and his statement that “In closing, we academics, like the turkeys marching around a dead cat, sometimes get caught in closed loops which, at worst, degenerate into ritualistic cycles.”

John H. Cochrane: The Grumpster. Stochastic John.

Cochrane, who blogs as “The Grumpy Economist,” is a stochastic discount factor advocate.

Charles M.C. Lee: Maximum Carnage.

Lee was a participant in the fierce debate (described by Thaler (2015) as an “unprecedented four-part pissing contest”3) on closed-end funds in the early 1990s.

Terrance Odean: Terry Too Much.

Odean’s 1999 paper “Do Investors Trade Too Much?” had a clear answer: yes.

Antti Ilmanen: The Helsinki Hurricane. Anti-hero.

Ilmanen’s 2011 book Expected Returns is highly recommended.

Nicholas Barberis, Andrei Shleifer, and Robert Vishny: Barbershleishny.

Barberis, Shleifer, and Vishny (1998) presented a theoretical model explaining both under-reaction and over-reaction in stock prices.

Lasse H. Pedersen: The Dane with the Brain.

I love Pedersen’s 2015 book Efficiently Inefficient.


  1. Hirshleifer, David. "Presidential address: Social transmission bias in economics and finance." The Journal of Finance 75, no. 4 (2020): 1779-1831.
  3. Thaler, Richard H. Misbehaving: The making of behavioral economics. WW Norton & Company, 2015.

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About the Author

Owen Lamont Acadian Asset Management

Owen A. Lamont, Ph.D.

Senior Vice President, Portfolio Manager, Research
Owen joined the Acadian investment team in 2023. In addition to more than 20 years of experience in asset management as a researcher and portfolio manager, Owen has been a member of the faculty at Harvard University, Princeton University, The University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and Yale School of Management. His professional and academic focus is behavioral finance, and he has published papers on short selling, stock returns, and investor behavior in leading academic journals, and he has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Owen earned a Ph.D. in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a B.A. in economics and government from Oberlin College.