Tuesday, April 19, 2011

R H Coase: 100 not out

Ronald H. Coase turned 100 last December. He's one of my favourite scholars because his ideas are both simple and profound at the same time, and because of his ability to express them with elegance and clarity. I also admire his intellectual courage: virtually all his ideas, which are now so widely accepted by his peers, began as intellectual heresies. Some 20 of the famous Chicago School of Economics, including Director, Friedman and Stigler, invited Coase to Chicago to discuss one of these ideas, which has come to be known as The Coase Theorem. Stigler recounts what happened:

We strongly objected to this heresy. Milton Friedman did most of the talking, as usual. He also did much of the thinking, as usual. In the course of two hours of argument the vote went from twenty against and one for Coase to twenty-one for Coase.
And despite his advanced age, Coase is still at it. He has a new book coming out later this year entitled How China Became Capitalist. In a fascinating interview with his coauthor Ning Wang, Coase discusses some of the ideas in the new book - and much else besides.

No comments: