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Laureates of the Global Economy Prize 2015 declared

The laureates of the well-respected Kiel Institute Global Economy Prize have been determined. This year, the prize will go to former Soviet head of state Michail Gorbatschow, to General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, to entrepreneurs Kristine and Douglas Tompkins as well as to economist Sir Christopher A. Pissarides. This has been notified today by Professor Dennis J. Snower, President of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Kiel Lord Mayor Ulf Kämpfer and Klaus-Hinrich Vater, Schleswig-Holstein Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IHK) Vice President. The eleventh Global Economy Prize will be awarded on Sunday, 21 June, in the Kiel town hall. All laureates will attend in person.

The Kiel Institute Global Economy Prize is awarded to honor influential personalities in politics, business and science. It is meant to highlight those who have been pioneers in finding solutions to global economic problems, who have been willing to participate in a dialog with people from other walks of life, and who have championed a society based on individual initiative and responsibility. The prize which is not endowed with prize money will be handed to each a high-ranking policymaker, a renowned economist and some out­standing entrepreneurs.

“All our laureates were willing to forego the security of customed institutions and norm in order to pursue a goal of overarching meaning and significance”, according to Professor Snower. In this spirit, it appears virtually impossible to overrate the vision and far-sightedness of  Michail Gorbatschow, who understood the limits the Soviet political system imposed to individual freedom and thus accepted the end of this very system – although he grew up in it and became its top leader. “Michail Gorbatchow changed the political landscape of the world and set in rotation an ongoing worldwide debate on the appropriate political and economic foundations of human thriving. Without him we would not be celebrating 25 years of German Unification in 2015”, Snower explained. Especially against the background of recent political tensions with Russia the Global Economy Prize will hopefully be a strong signal to continue engagements notwithstanding frontiers and conflicts.

With his idea of search unemployment laureate Christopher Pissarides has thoroughly widened our understanding of what is actually happening in the labor market. Up to then, economists were convinced that only the level of wages determined the rate of unemployment. “The idea that mutual lack of knowledge made it difficult to match supply and demand has been revolutionary at this time”, Professor Snower pointed out.

Kiel Lord Mayor Ulf Kämpfer lauded Jeffrey Immelt as one of the most important post-war CEOs. Immelt succeeded in reorienting the ailing General Electric towards winning ways by reanimating old strengths and pushing some spectacular buyouts. Although strongly advo­cating free markets, he stuck up for environmental protection and backed national environ­mental regulation in favor of private company return. Kristine und Douglas Tompkins never hesitated to break new grounds, according to Klaus-Hinrich Vater, IHK vice-president. “You have to take your hat off to such daring entrepreneurial spirit.” Living up to their ideals has always been paramount to them and in this they are a beacon to the world.

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