Acceptance speech by Ralph Koijen

22 November 2021

Acceptance speech by Ralph Koijen at the virtual ceremony awarding the 20th edition of the German Bernacer Prize to Ralph Koijen


Thank you for all the kind words that have been said today and for organizing such a wonderful event, especially given the unusual virtual format.

It is a great honor for me to receive the Bernacer prize; it is an exciting day for me. I am very grateful to the selection committee, the sponsor of the prize, the Observatory of the European Central Bank and the Bank of Spain for this event and for this recognition of our research. I am particularly delighted, and it is difficult to not be a bit intimidated, to join this group of European economists, whose work I greatly admire.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank several people.

I want to thank my current and past colleagues at Chicago Booth, NYU Stern, London Business School, and Tilburg University. I also want to thank the PhD students I got to work with at these universities; they are the next generation of economists pushing the frontier and I greatly enjoy working with them.

At LBS, I am particularly grateful to Helene Rey. Helene is not only a phenomenal researcher who has had an important influence on my own work, but Helene is also exceptionally supportive of junior faculty with new and different ideas, and this has benefited me on many occasions and I am sure many others. I am therefore very happy that Helene could participate in today’s event.

I want to thank my long-term coauthors, and in particular Jules van Binsbergen, Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh, Moto Yogo, and in recent years Xavier Gabaix. Each of them is a brilliant economist (in fact, Helene, Stijn, and Xavier are all earlier recipients of this award) and you can imagine that working with them makes research a lot easier and a lot more enjoyable.

I truly hope that our research brings us closer to understanding the way in which the world works, that it can be helpful to inform policy, and that it can be helpful to improve people’s lives, even if only a little. This shared objective with my coauthors is very valuable to me, and their willingness to explore new and uncertain directions to achieve this goal. We currently face important and challenging economic questions, some new and some old, both in Europe and all over the world, and I hope that our research can contribute to answering them, again, if only a little.

I also want to take this opportunity to highlight that my work on the stability of insurance markets is joint with Moto Yogo and we started the agenda on asset demand systems together as well, so I am delighted that Moto can join us today and that we can share this recognition of our research together.

Stijn is not only a wonderful coauthor, but he is also one of my PhD advisors, together with Theo Nijman and Bas Werker from Tilburg University. I am delighted that Bas, Stijn, and Theo can be here today as well. And, if you thought we are passionate about insurance markets, then you should meet Theo, whose passion for questions related to aging, retirement, and pensions still influences my own work to date.

My PhD was a bit of journey, starting in Tilburg, then spending 1.5 years at Duke and a year at NYU Stern visiting Stijn, to then start my first academic position in Chicago. I am extremely grateful to Bas, Stijn, and Theo for their support, patience, and encouragement during these early years of my career.

Lastly, I want to thank my parents, who are coincidentally in Chicago this week, my wife Lore, and our daughter Ella for their love, joy, and support over the years. I could not have done it without them.

I want to conclude by thanking Inmaculada for all the thought and effort that went into organizing today’s event. It has been very nice. Thank you again.