Blogosphere commentary on the passing of Ronald Coase, to accompany my earlier post, includes:
Professor Coase joined the University of Chicago Law School faculty in 1964, and received the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1991. He continued to produce scholarly work into his 100s! In a survey of readers several years ago, Coase ranked 4th (after Holmes, Posner, and Dworkin) among the most influential legal thinkers in American law of the past century. It was a remarkable act of foresight for the Law School to hire Coase, who did not have a law degree, and to do so long before interdisciplinary scholarship had become the norm at leading law schools.
Ronald Coase, the Nobel Prize winning economist and legal theorist, has passed. He had a profound influence on law and economics. His essay, The Problem of Social Cost, is the single most influential law and economics article--and surely one of the most influential legal theory pieces from any methodological perspective. Among his many other essays, The Federal Communications Commission and The Nature of the Firm were both hugely influential. He was a giant!
The Coase theorem was first presented by Coase in his 1959 work on the FCC and allocating radio spectrum (jstor). Radio stations interfered with one another (i.e. externalities). Yet Coase argued that with well-defined property rights, spectrum could be allocated in a market just like other goods. In this talk from our MRUniversitycourse, Economics of the Media, I discuss spectrum allocation, Coase’s triumph at the Chicago dinner and the much longer time to acceptance and application in the real world of the FCC and spectrum auctions.
Not surprisingly, we’ve discussed Coase quite a bit here at Truth on the Market. Follow this link to see our collected thoughts on Coase over the years.
Probably my favorite, and certainly most frequently quoted, of Coase’s many wise words is this:
One important result of this preoccupation with the monopoly problem is that if an economist finds something—a business practice of one sort or other—that he does not understand, he looks for a monopoly explanation. And as in this field we are very ignorant, the number of ununderstandable practices tends to be rather large, and the reliance on a monopoly explanation, frequent.