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The Heller-Hurwicz Economics Institute was launched in 2010 to establish an intellectual powerhouse of the world’s top faculty and graduate students focused on creating effective tools of economic theory that will lead to policies and institutions that address major socioeconomic problems. The Institute is a global initiative in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota designed to inform and influence public policy by supporting and promoting frontier economic research and by communicating its findings to leading academics, policymakers, and business executives around the world.

The Heller-Hurwicz Economics Institute focuses on areas where there is potential to break new ground in teaching and research, discover frontier tools of economic theory, and apply them to policies and institutions that will address global challenges today and in the future. These areas include:

  • Advancing Leo Hurwicz’s pure theory of mechanism design—that is, improving theoretical understanding of how properly designed institutional rules can channel individual self-interest toward achieving social goals
  • Progress in understanding the optimal design of social safety nets—government insurance programs such as Medicare—which depend on taxation of some and transfer to others, while fostering work incentives
  • Furthering the design of fiscal and monetary policy, areas that Walter Heller pioneered directly by initiating President Johnson’s War on Poverty, and designing tax policies to shape the path of economic growth
  • Exploring issues of corporate governance to formulate systems and policies that are mutually beneficial for corporate managers and their incentive structures; and corporate owners, i.e., shareholders, who seek profit growth but also investment safety
  • Developing financial regulatory systems that judiciously balance rewards for beneficial financial innovation with safeguards to ensure fundamental stability in the overall financial system
  • Improving design of policies that align financial incentives and environmental protection, harnessing market forces to accomplish broader social goals by recognizing the externalities of economic activity