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Economists have studied how markets work for a long time. Generally, they work well. But markets do not always perform as expected. Jean Tirole of France won the Nobel Prize in Economics for studying why markets are imperfect, or inefficient, and what governments can do to regulate them. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced the $1.1 million prize in Stockholm on Monday. It called Mr. Tirole “one of the most influential economists of our time.” The organization said he had done important research in a number of areas. But, it said, “most of all he has clarified how to understand and regulate industries with only a few powerful firms.” A small number of companies that control an industry is called an oligopoly. For about 30 years, Mr. Tirole researched periods when markets failed, that is, when they did not provide good results in price and competition. He looked at how a small number of large companies, or even a single company, can strongly influence industries. Banking and telecommunications were among the industries he studied. The Noble committee said that unregulated markets often produce socially undesirable results. They can result in higher prices or companies that use their market position to block others. The committee said it chose Mr. Tirole because he thought about how best to regulate markets. Mr. Tirole works at the Toulouse School of Economics in Toulouse, France. He is 61 years old. The Royal Swedish Academy will honor Mr. Tirole at the Nobel Award ceremony in Stockholm, Sweden, December 10th.