Maurice Allais

Maurice Allais
Maurice Allais
Walrasian economics
ALLAIS PN Maurice-24x30-2001b.jpg
Born 31 May 1911(1911-05-31)
Died 9 October 2010(2010-10-09) (aged 99)
Saint-Cloud[1] near Paris
Nationality French
Field Macroeconomics
Behavioral economics
Alma mater École Polytechnique
Influences Léon Walras
Irving Fisher
Vilfredo Pareto
Influenced Gérard Debreu
Edmond Malinvaud
Contributions Overlapping generations model
golden rule of optimal growth
Transaction demand for money rule
Allais paradox
Awards Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics (1988)
Information at IDEAS/RePEc

Maurice Félix Charles Allais (31 May 1911 – 9 October 2010) was a French economist, and was the 1988 winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics "for his pioneering contributions to the theory of markets and efficient utilization of resources."


The economist

Born in Paris, France, Allais attended the Lycée Lakanal, graduated from the École Polytechnique in Paris and studied at the École nationale supérieure des mines de Paris. His academic and non-academic posts have included being Professor of Economics at the École Nationale Supérieure des Mines de Paris (since 1944) and Director of its Economic Analysis Centre (since 1946). In 1949 he received a Doctor-Engineer title from the University of Paris, Faculty of Science. He also held teaching positions at various institutions, including at the University of Paris X-Nanterre, and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

As an economist he made contributions to decision theory, monetary policy and other areas. He was reluctant to write in or translate his work into English, and the folly of this decision became clear when many of his major contributions became known to the dominant anglophone community only when they were independently rediscovered or popularized by English-speaking economists. For example, in one of his major works, Économie et Intérêt (1947), he introduced the first overlapping generations model (later popularized by Paul Samuelson in 1958), introduced the golden rule of optimal growth (later popularized by Edmund Phelps) or described the transaction demand for money rule (later found in William Baumol's work).[2] He was also responsible for early work in Behavioral economics, which in the US is generally attributed to Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky.[3]

His name is particularly associated with what is commonly known as the Allais paradox, a decision problem he first presented in 1953 which contradicts the expected utility hypothesis.

In 1992, Maurice Allais criticized the Maastricht Treaty for its excessive emphasis on free trade. He also expressed reservations on the single European currency.[4] In 2005, he expressed similar reservations concerning the European constitution.[5]

His interest in physics

Besides his career in economics, Maurice Allais performed experiments between 1952 and 1960 in the fields of gravitation, special relativity and electromagnetism, in order to investigate possible links between these fields. He reported three effects with respect to these experiments:

  1. An unexpected anomalous effect in the angular velocity of the plane of oscillation of a paraconical pendulum, detected during two partial solar eclipses in 1954 and 1959. This claimed effect is now called the Allais effect.
  2. Anomalous irregularities in the oscillation of the paraconical pendulum, with periodicity 24h50min, which corresponds to the tidal lunar day.
  3. Anomalous irregularities in optical theodolite measurements, with the same tidal periodicity.

Over the years, a number of pendulum experiments were performed by scientists around the world to verify his findings. However, the results were mixed.[6]

Allais's explanation for his observations contradicts the theory of relativity, thus he became a relativity critic.

Subsequently, in order to compare the optical anomaly with established experimental results, Prof. Allais performed a statistical analysis of the thousands of interferometer measurements of Dayton Miller and claimed to find periodicities corresponding with the sidereal day, the equinoxes and other celestial events [7].

According to Allais, the anomalous effects demonstrate an insofar unknown anisotropy of space, as well as an absolute velocity effect.

Allais disagreed with Robert S. Shankland's analysis of Miller's data, which many physicists consider as a conclusive dismissal of the subject. Shankland attributed the deviations from relativity predictions to systematic errors of readings and thermal instabilities, despite Miller's claims to the contrary. Actually, some physicists, like Alan Kostelecky, are testing the possibility of space anisotropy (not directly related to Allais's fringe work). This type of mainstream research is currently ongoing.[8]

Roger Balian wrote a note to rebut Allais's interpretation of Miller's result,[9] which was in turn rebutted by Allais[10]

Not only was Allais interested in physics; he also wrote on the history of physics. In the relativity priority dispute, he saw Albert Einstein as a plagiarist and denied the validity of mainstream experimental data.[11] He often mixed the two subjects in the same papers.


Allais died on 9 October, 2010 at his home near Paris at the age of 99. He reportedly died of natural causes.[12]

Notable quotes

  • "In essence, the present creation of money, out of nothing by the banking system, is similar – I do not hesitate to say it in order to make people clearly realize what is at stake here – to the creation of money by counterfeiters, so rightly condemned by law."


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ History of economic thought website. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
  3. ^ John Kay, Financial Times, 25 August 2010 p 9.
  4. ^ L'Humanité (French) 17 September 1992
  5. ^ L'Humanité (French) 26 May 2005
  6. ^ Decrypting the Eclipse. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
  7. ^ [2]
  8. ^ [3] [4] [5]
  9. ^ "Remarques sur les notes de Maurice Allais [...]" Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences", 2000, t. 1, série IV p.249-250
  10. ^ "L'Origine des régularités constatéees dans les observations interférométriques de Dayton C. Miller 1925–1926 : variations de température ou anisotropie de l'espace" (with abridged English version), Comptes rendus de l'Académie des sciences, 2000, t. 1, série IV, p.1205-1210
  11. ^ Paradoxe. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
  12. ^ "French Nobel prize winner Maurice Allais dies in Paris". BNO News. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 


  • R. S. Shankland, S. W. McCuskey, F. C. Leone, and G. Kuerti, "New analysis of the interferometric observations of Dayton C. Miller", Rev. Mod. Phys. 27, 167–178 (1955).
  • R. S. Shankland, "Michelson's role in the development of relativity", Applied Optics 12 (10), 2280 (1973).

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Maurice Allais — Maurice Félix Charles Allais [mɔˈʀiːs aˈlɛ] (* 31. Mai 1911 in Paris; † 9. Oktober 2010 Saint Cloud bei Paris) war ein französischer Ingenieur und Wirtschaftswis …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Wirtschaftsnobelpreis 1988: Maurice Allais —   Der französische Ökonom erhielt den Nobelpreis für »seine bahnbrechenden Beiträge zur Theorie der Märkte und der effizienten Ressourcennutzung«.    Biografie   Maurice Félix Charles Allais, * Paris 31. 5. 1911; 1931 33 Studium an der École… …   Universal-Lexikon

  • ALLAIS (M.) — ALLAIS MAURICE (1911 ) Né le 31 mai 1911 dans une modeste famille de crémiers parisiens, rien ne destinait Maurice Allais à devenir le brillant théoricien récompensé par le prix Nobel d’économie en 1988. Major de sa promotion à l’École… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Allais — ist der Familienname mehrerer Personen: Alphonse Allais (1854–1905), französischer Schriftsteller und Humorist Émile Allais (* 1912), französischer Skirennfahrer Maurice Allais (1911 2010), französischer Ingenieur und Wirtschaftswissenschaftler …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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  • Allais effect — The Allais effect is a claimed anomalous precession of the plane of oscillation of a pendulum during a solar eclipse. It has been speculated to be unexplained by standard physical models of gravitation, but recent mainstream physics publications… …   Wikipedia

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