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American trio wins 2007 Nobel for economics

STOCKHOLM, Oct 17: A Russian-born academic who escaped both the communist revolution and the horrors of World War II became the oldest person to win a Nobel Prize on Monday, garnering a joint award for a pioneering market theory.

Leonid Hurwicz, 90, and fellow Americans Eric Maskin and Roger Myerson, won the 2007 Nobel in economics for laying the foundations of a theory that determines which market-based systems work best.

A bemused-sounding Hurwicz, who has taught at the University of Minnesota since 1951 after moving to the US to escape World War II, said he had not expected to win.

"On the contrary, I thought that my time perhaps had passed already," the American citizen said in a telephonic interview.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said the award honoured the trio's work on "mechanism design theory," which assesses how well different institutions fare in allocating resources and the need for government intervention.

The theory was the brainchild of Hurwicz, who was born in Moscow the year of the Russian revolution. Maskin of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton and Myerson of the University of Chicago refined and tested his ideas. Maskin was born in 1950 and Myerson in 1951, the same year Hurwicz joined the faculty of Minnesota, a school less noted than "Ivy League" institutions for innovative research. Maskin, who has an applied mathematics doctorate from Harvard, said he was relieved to find all three of them had won.

"I guess my first thought when I heard Hurwicz was one of the winners was a sense of relief. Hurwicz has been a candidate for many years and he's now 90 years old and time was running out," Maskin said in a telephone conference with journalists. reuters

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