Lars Jonung goes to Gothenburg for the 2021 Felix Neubergh lecture

Published: 2021-10-08

In November professor emeritus Lars Jonung will go to Gothenburg invited by the School of Business, Economics and Law to give the Felix Neubergh Lecture for 2021. In addition, he will be awarded a medal and 50 000 kronor. The lecture has been given every year since 1977. The event is made possible by a generous donation by the banker Félix Neubergh from Gothenburg. 

Lars Jonung will soon discuss how inflation targeting can be improved upon at Handelshögskolan in Gothenburg. Photos: Anders Ylander, Johan Persson

Lars is in good company. The lecture has been delivered by prominent economists like Gunnar Myrdal, Barry Eichengreen, Jon Faust and Mats Persson, by policymakers like Harold Wilson and Kjell-Olof Feldt and by central bankers like Bengt Dennis, Urban Bäckström, Sirkka Hämäläinen and Lars Heikensten. 

Congratulations, Lars! What will your Felix Neubergh Lecture be about?

“The title of my lecture is ‘Problems with inflation targeting today. Are they due to the monetary theory of Knut Wicksell?’. I want to trace the challenges facing inflation targeting presently to the work by Knut Wicksell. He published in 1898 a book in German, translated later as Interest and Prices. This volume laid the theoretical foundation for inflation targeting, presently the standard approach to central banking across the world,“ Lars says. 

He continues:

“Recently, inflation targeting has been the subject of critical objections, most prominently the focus on price stability has been regarded as contributing to financial instability and financial crisis as reflected in the global financial crisis of 2008-09. In addition, central banks, like the Bank of Sweden, have failed for long periods of time to reach their inflation targets. Why have these problems emerged? In my lecture, I will provide an answer by comparing the world envisioned by Wicksell in his original work to the world of today, characterized by advanced financial systems and well-developed asset markets. In this way, I hope to identify and explain the shortcomings that are associated with inflation targeting as it is implemented today. I will also suggest how inflation targeting can be improved upon.“

So the theory of Wicksell from 1898 is still important and usable?

“Yes, absolutely. It is amazing that the approach to monetary policy recommended by Knut Wicksell, professor in economics here in Lund 1901-1916, is now adopted by central banks like the Federal Reserve, the ECB and the Riksbank. Wicksell’s theory has been rediscovered when inflation targeting was adopted by central banks starting in the early 1990s. Wicksell should now be looked upon as an pioneering economist along the names of John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman,“ Lars explains.

Are you going to Gothenburg “in the flesh”?

“Yes, I insisted on that when I received the invitation and I’m looking forward to give a lecture on site!”

The Felix Neubergh Lecture is given every year on two alternative themes: Every other year the theme is economics and/or banking and finance, and every other year the theme is archeology.
Learn more about this year's lecture

Who was Knut Wicksell?
Learn more at Department of Economics

About Lars Jonung

Lars Jonung

Professor emeritus
Department of Economics

lars.jonung@nek.lu.se

Lars Jonung in the research portal