ASSET, the ASsociation of Southern-European Economic Theorists (ASsociation Soud-Européenne d'Economie Theoretique / ASociacion Sud-Europea de Economia Teorica), is a group of twenty one economics departments and economics research centres located in Cyprus, France, Greece, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Tunisia and Turkey. The purpose of the association is to encourage cooperation and exchange of researchers and ideas among the participating research institutions in the general field of analytical and quantitative economics and econometrics. To this end, ASSET organizes various scientific activities, in particular an annual meeting hosted by a different member institution each year. The scientific activities and meetings of ASSET are open to international scholars from all parts of the world.


History of ASSET


ASSET had as its origin a Franco-Spanish collaboration that began in 1979 on the initiative of researchers of the universities of Aix-Marseille, Barcelona, Bilbao, Madrid, and Toulouse. Its activities received financial support from 1984 to 1986 within the framework of Franco-Spanish cooperation, Subsequently ASSET obtained support, in 1987 and 1988, from the CNRS and the CAICYT. ASSET has also been the beneficiary of grants from a number of universities, in particular the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, and for the period mid 1989 to mid 1993 received funding within the framework of the SPES programme of the European Union. This was then followed from 1994 by funding within the framework of Human Capital and Mobility Programme of the European Commission.


Initially ASSET's administration was handled by a chairman, assisted by the ASSET Board, which is composed of representatives from the member institutions. Juan Urrutia (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid) was the chairman until 1990. From 1990 onwards the chairman of ASSET was Louis-André Gérard-Varet (EHESS & GREQAM, Marseilles).


Starting in 1997, ASSET was placed under the responsibility of a president, elected for a period of two years by the ASSET Board. Louis-André Gerard Varet (EHESS & GREQAM, Marseilles) served as the first president elected under the new system.


Also in 1997, ASSET decided to elect a vice president and a secretary general to serve, together with the president, as officers in charge of running its official business. The vice president is elected for a period of two years and is also the president-elect, destined to become president after the current president's term expires. The first vice-president elected in 1997 was Salvador Barbera (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). The secretary general is elected for a period of four years and is responsible for the administration of ASSET. The first secretary-general was Alan Kirman (GREQAM, Marseilles).


Since 1986 ASSET organizes an annual meeting, an international conference, that currently brings together about 200-250 researchers. This conference is open to researchers not only from institutions situated in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region, but also from institutions outside this area. ASSET makes a concerted effort to promote the participation of young researchers from its members institutions in its annual meeetings. Through this conference ASSET is gradually becoming a focal point in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean region for scientific exchanges in all areas of economics.


On the occasion of its annual meetings, ASSET invites renowned economists to give plenary lectures. In 1990, one of the invited lectures was named the Vilfredo Pareto Lecture. The presenter of the Vilfredo Pareto Lecture is chosen by the ASSET Board. Since January 2023, the Vilfredo Pareto Lecture has been renamed to Jean-Jacques Laffont Lecture.


A second invited lecture, initially named as the ASSET Lecture, was inaugurated in 1993. In 2003 it has been renamed the Murat Sertel Lecture in memory of Murat R. Sertel (1942–2003), who passed away on January 25, 2003, in Aix-en-Provence, France, due to a heart attack while attending an academic workshop. Murat Sertel had participated in ASSET events starting from its early days, and he was a member of ASSET's Board for numerous years as the representative of Boğaziçi University. Among his many achievements was the founding of the Review of Economic Design, where he served as editor-in-chief until he passed away. The presenter of the Murat Sertel Lecture is chosen by the local organizing committee of the annual meeting.


Following the passing away of ASSET’s first elected president, Louis-André Gerard-Varet, in January 2001, ASSET instituted the Louis-André Gérard-Varet Prize in his memory. Louis-André Gérard-Varet was Director of Studies at EHESS and Director of GREQAM at Marseille. He was ASSET’s chairman from 1990 to 1997 and its president from 1997 to 1999. ASSET awards the Louis-André Gerard-Varet prize each year to a young author (either a current graduate student or a recent PhD within two years of graduation) of an outstanding paper singled out by the program committee among those submitted to the ASSET annual meeting. The recipient of the prize must be attending the annual meeting, and in the case of co-authored papers, all authors must be individually eligible.


During the initial years of ASSET, the member institutions explored various means to promote communication among scholars across their institutions as well as within the international scientific community. Towards that end, a working paper series entitled "Southern European Economic Discussion Series" (SEEDS) was launched in 1982 to dissiminate the research findings of the members of ASSET to 250 universities worldwide. More than 160 papers have been distributed as part of SEEDS, and of these about three quarters have found their way into first-class international journals. In 1997, Oxford University Press started publishing monographs in economics and econometrics by members of the ASSET network as a special ASSET series. An ASSET editorial committee used to select the volumes for publication. Given the multitude of ways researchers can disseminate and promote their work nowadays, especially over the internet, the working papers series, in its initial format, has been discontinued.