Let me start by expressing delight, but also some trepidation, at becoming president of this Society. Many years have passed since the time where Professor Aliprantis first mentioned it to me as a project. He would be very proud to see how it has flourished!
In preparing the traditional beginning message of the incoming president I have reread those of my two predecessors. Claude d’Aspremont sent his on January 1st of 2020. A date that was within days that the WHO first knew that something was amiss in world health, and within one week to two months that all the world become dramatically hit by the pandemics. In contrast, the message of Nancy Stokey of 5 January of 2021 is painfully aware of the new reality. It emphasizes the resilience of the Society and hopes that normalcy will be progressively restored in 2021. This has only partly happened, which means that the expression of hope has to be reiterated at the core of my message at this beginning of 2022. In fact, I’m confident that the corresponding message of January 2023 will be able to assert that the exceptional period is over and will be in a position to reflect on the lessons to be learned for the functioning of the Society from the three years of experience. I shall not elaborate on it here – we are still in fray of the battle – but I cannot resist tentatively mentioning two: (i) the demonstration of the effectiveness of on-line communication has to have much permanent value for an international society, and (ii) yet, switching to 100% online in normal times is not optimal, face-to-face interactions have an irreducible value-added.
I summarize how the program of the last two years was adjusted:
• The 20th annual SAET conference that had to take place at the Seoul National University in June 14-17, 2020 was deferred and took place, online but from the same venue, on June 13-17, 2021. We are grateful to Professor Youngsub Chun for his efforts and success in making it possible.
• The 2021 annual SAET conference had to take place in Paris. It has been rescheduled to 2023.
• The 2022 annual SAET conference will take place in Sydney, Australia and it is sponsored by the Australian National University. It will be in–person. But of course, we will have contingency plans in case we need to go hybrid or online. Special thanks are due to Professors Rabee Tourky and Idione Meneghel for taking the lead on this SAET event.
• The European Workshop in Economic Theory (EWET) was scheduled for June 7-9, 2020 in Akko, Israel. It had to be postponed and at the end it took place in a hybrid format in June 7-9, 2021. Robert Aumann delivered the Debreu Lecture on the day of his 91st birthday (of course, it was meant to happen in his 90th but the pandemics disposed otherwise). He was the brilliant speaker we all know and his talk included a lot of nice memories of Gérard Debreu. We are grateful to Professor Anna Rubinshik for her efforts and success in making it all possible.
• The EWET 2022 conference – it will be the 30th – is scheduled at the Warsaw School of Economics, July 7-9, 2022. The organizing committee is chaired by Professor Lukasc Wozny, to whom I send my warmest recognition for the effort. The conference will include as a special event a session dedicated to Professor Jerzy Los, mathematician, logician, philosopher and, last but not least, pioneer mathematical economist. It will mark the 102nd anniversary of his birth. The conference will be in-person, but the covid situation will be closely monitored just in case a switch to hybrid or online is necessary. Let’s hope not.
• The 8th Euro-African Conference on Finance and Economics /Mediterranean Workshop in Economic Theory, in which organization the SAET collaborates, had to take place at the University of Porto, Portugal, in June 1-2, 2020. It was postponed, and again in 2021. It is now scheduled for June 7-8, 2022 at the same venue. It is important for this conference to be face-to-face and so we cross our fingers that this will be possible. We want to express our thanks to the organizers for their adaptability to a difficult situation.
As we have just seen, the disruption of the pandemics has made it necessary to adapt the schedule and the format of our conferences. But I want to emphasize that the organization of the Society has succeeded in making sure that this did not happen, in any essential way, with our publications. In summary: our organization has not been spared. It has been severely challenged by the irruption of the pandemics. Yet it has responded most effectively. Thanks are due to all the people that have made this possible. I cannot list all of them, but let me mention, as representatives of the collective: Professors Nancy Stokey (outgoing president), Bernard Cornet (secretary), Eddie Dekel (chair of the Fellowship Committee) and Nicholas Yannelis (editor of our two journals).
I will not list the many problems, perplexities, and puzzles that economic reality is piling upon economists, in general, and economic theorists in particular. It could not be an exhaustive list and, at any rate, even if it is largely coincidental among many of us, the ranking of importance for its entries will probably not be. But so much seems true: sometimes, theory is ahead of reality, but more often, as probably it is the case now, reality is ahead. Be as it may, there is much work for us, theorist, to carry out, be it in imagining the future or be it in understanding the present (or the past). Which brings me to my last operational point: please, remember that member participation – in nomination and voting – in the process of electing fellows is crucial. The image of the Society is, after all, the sum of the images of all of us. The names of the most recent cohort, corresponding to 2021 and formed by 42 outstanding scholars, can be found in our website.
I conclude by sending my warmest regards for the year 2022. Please, be careful and take care of yourselves.
Andreu Mas-Colell, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, 6 January 2022.