Monday, September 2, 2013

Ronald Coase has passed away

Very sad news.

I got into reading a lot of Coase for my senior thesis as an undergrad, which was on the impact of trade flows on vertical disintegration of domestic industries. Throughout college I was very interested in the New Trade Theory/increasing returns/division of labor stuff. So I came at Coase (and Williamson) a little backwards actually. Coase is of course one of the dominant ways of thinking about the firm in economics, but since I had spent my sophomore and junior year interested in stuff from Krugman, Romer, Adam Smith, Young, etc. (along more obscure people who wrote about those issues like Brian Arthur and Xaiokai Yang) I started reading Coase more in my senior year when I wrote the thesis as an alternative perspective on industry structure.

That's probably part of the reason why my academic and professional career hasn't taken a very standard path. I just poked around in what interested me, which sometimes meant getting things backasswards. But for a student like that, that just enjoyed exploring the literature, of course Coase was a treasure when I found him. I don't think I've come across anyone who wouldn't agree.

We've been talking recently about economath, and the difference between the medium (math vs. literary) and clear, powerful economic reasoning - that you can use either medium to communicate good economics. Well Coase is the perfect example of someone appreciated by both math and literary partisans for doing just that.


  1. Speaking of Coase and 'economath':

    "My remarks have sometimes been interpreted as implying that I am hostile to the mathematization of economic theory. This is untrue. Indeed, once we begin to uncover the real factors affecting the performance of the economic system, the complicated interrelations between them will clearly necessitate a mathematical treatment, as in the natural sciences, and economists like myself, who write in prose, will take their bow. May this period soon come."

  2. May Ronald Coase rest in peace. He lived a long life and had an accomplished scholarly career.


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