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Ronald Coase, 1910-2013

Quite rightly, Ronald H Coase, the Nobel Prize winner in economics, who died a few days ago at the remarkable age of 102, is being remembered as an exceptional thinker in economics. He is probably best known for this analysis – which seems obvious to us now – about why firms exist in the first place.

The University of Chicago Law School, with which he was associated for many years, has this nice appreciation of him. And here is the final paragraph:

Coase said in 2012 that his main scholarly talent was to identify solutions that were in plain sight. “I’ve never done anything that wasn’t obvious, and I didn’t know why other people didn’t do it,” he said. “I’ve never thought the things I did were so extraordinary.”


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9 comments to Ronald Coase, 1910-2013

  • Mr Ed

    There is no Nobel Prize in Economics, just a Memorial Prize in honour of Alfred Nobel, funded by the Swedish Central Bank, a cuckoo in the nest.

  • Paul Marks

    Rest In Peace.

  • RRS

    My favorite tagline by Coase:

    His reference to “Blackboard Economists.”

  • mike

    It was only two days ago I introduced the Coase theorem to a friend in the U.S.

  • the other rob

    There is much discussion of his work over on The Volokh Conspiracy, today.

  • Nick (nice-guy) Gray

    Sometimes, the obvious is the part that is most overlooked. As that loveable scallywag Holmes (what a character!) once noted, “You see but you do not observe.”

  • The Coase Theorem seems to be that if A is doing something detrimental to B, then the solution is for B to pay A not to do it.

    This makes perfect sense. In Chicago it’s called “protection money” and in the middle east it’s called “jizra”. I’m not an economist and feel I’m missing something here. Anybody got a better explanation than the one in the Wall St. Journal today?

  • Ernie G

    In 2011, Greg Mankiw showed an example of The Coase Theorem in Action.. (H/T to Glenn Reynolds)

  • RRS

    In the WSJ today (September 4, 2013):

    David Henderson writes on Coase and “Blackboard Economists.”

    The link at Marginal Revolution to the pieces at Reason are well worth reading, particularly in their denigration of the Economics Department at the University of Virginia during the period I was still in Charlottesville.