Townsend Awarded 2011 Laffont Prize in Economics

January 12, 2012

Robert M. Townsend, CFSP faculty director and the Elizabeth & James Killian Professor of Economics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was named the 2011 recipient of the Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize in economics.

The Institute of Industrial Economics (IDEI) and the city of Toulouse, France has awarded the prize to a prominent economist annually since 2005. The award was established to honor the late economist Jean-Jacques Laffont, who founded IDEI in 1990. 

Professor Townsend accepted the award in Toulouse, France on Thursday, January 12, 2012 and presented an accompanying lecture titled, "Financial Design and Economic Development." The lecture, which was open to the public, was given at the Mairie de Toulouse capital building in the Salle des Illustres ("Hall of the Distinguished").

Townsend is a development economist whose recent work focuses on analyzing the role and impact of financial systems on developing economies by studying applied general equilibrium models and contract theory. He is the author of Financial Structure and Economic Organization (1990), The Medieval Village Economy (1993), Households as Corporate Firms (2010) with Krislert Samphantharak, Financial Systems in Developing Economies (2011), and numerous professional articles in economics and development.

Townsend has been on the faculty of MIT since 2008. Prior to that, he taught at the University of Chicago, where he remains a Research Associate. Townsend also leads several prominent research initiatives in addition to the Consortium on Financial Systems and Poverty, including the Townsend Thai Project and the Enterprise Initiative.

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