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Daron Acemoglu won the John Bates Clark Medal in 2005, and the late Elinor Ostrom, a political scientist, won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2009.The reason for their interest is obvious: malfunctioning political institutions are a major reason that poor countries are poor.For a generation or more, in rich countries, both banks and politicians have seemed complicated and not terribly important, so many economists have ignored them.Development economists have paid closer attention to politics and have been rewarded for their efforts.If 2008 was a sharp reminder that banking matters, then 2016 has reminded us that politics matters too — and, in both cases, the reminder has not been especially welcome. Until recently, both banking and politics tended to be something of a niche interest in the economics profession.
Several other economists have looked at sharp political discontinuities to estimate the value of political connections — for example, when Senator Jim Jeffords left the Republican party in 2001, handing control of the Senate to the Democrats, this surprise was reflected by a dip in the share price of companies with political connections to the Republicans.
And the share price of companies linked to Democrats suffered when a judicial ruling decided the tight 2000 election in favour of George W Bush.