Remembering Prof. Ronald Coase (1910 – 2013)

Tuesday, 3 September, 2013

Ronald H. Coase

I’m deeply saddened of the passing of Professor Ronald Coase . Quoting The Telegraph (emphasis & link added), “Professor Ronald Coase, who has died aged 102, won the 1991 Nobel Prize in Economics by injecting a note of reality into the world of market theories; in a 60-year career he wrote only about a dozen significant papers and used little or no mathematics, yet his impact on his discipline was profound.” The Verge is not too far off the truth when using the title, “Ronald Coase, the ‘father’ of the spectrum auction, dies at 102” as you can watch Coase explained how he first read the key idea from a student note and then adopt the idea of using prices to determine radio frequency spectrum use in this video clip.

Earlier this afternoon, in an exclusive video interview with Prof. Ning Wang, co-author of Prof. Coase’s last book “How China Became Capitalist” (published 2012),  Wang talked about visiting Coase last week, working with Coase from 2008-2012 on “How China Became Capitalist“, Coase’s love of China, and more.

On a personal note, while I’ve never met Prof. Coase in person, I was lucky to be exposed to Coase’s insightful economic ideas since the mid 1980s,  including those ideas in “The Lighthouse in Economics” via Prof. Steven Cheung‘s Chinese articles and Coase’s original English articles. For Coase’s 99th birthday in 2009, I spent many hours converting the 2003 Coase Lecture into a 6 parts YouTube with annotated time codes in the video description allowing easy access to specific sections.

I love the following quotes by Coase,

You don’t know what you can learn until you try to learn.”– from a 2010 interview  when he was 100 years old.

new ideas are most likely to come from the young who are also the group who are most likely to recognize the significance of those ideas.” – from his 2003 lecture.

Goodbye Prof. Coase.

Other articles:

Ronald H. Coase, Founding Scholar in Law and Economics, 1910-2013, University of Chicago
Ronald Coase, 1910-2013, The Ronald Coase Institute
Ronald Coase, Nobelist Who Studied Corporations, Dies at 102. Bloomberg
Ronald Coase Was The Greatest Of The Many Great University Of Chicago Economists, Forbes
Remembering Ronald Coase, Harvard Business Review
* “The Man Who Resisted ‘Blackboard Economics’ – Nobel laureate Ronald Coase taught that economists should study real markets“, WSJ
* “Ronald H. Coase, retired U. of C. professor won Nobel Prize, 1910-2013“, Chicago Tribute
* “RONALD COASE AND THE MISUSE OF ECONOMICS“, New Yorker

Sept 16th update:

* “The man who showed why firms exist – Anyone who cares about capitalism and economics should mourn the death of Ronald Coase“, The Economist

* “Ronald Coase, a Pragmatic Voice for Government’s Role“, New York Times

P.S. 1: In the coming days, I will try to update and add more contents to this article. Last update: Sept 4th, 2013

P.S. 2: In case you wonder what is “Coase Theorem”? Here is an excerpt from a 1997 Reason magazine interview with Coase.

Reason: Could you state the Coase Theorem? How do you explain it to people?

Ronald Coase: It deals with questions of liability. Read the rest of this entry »


Nobel Laureate professor Ronald Coase on China’s One-Child Policy

Friday, 25 January, 2013

Photo credit: by Zhaofeng Xue (薛兆丰) 2009

Yesterday, in our bilingual Google+ Hangout LIVE YouTube show Wallace and I talked about “Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China’s One-Child Policy” (with LIVE recorded video).

Last night, I reached out to professor Ning Wang (co-author of “How China Became Capitalist” with professor Coase) to ask him about his take on China’s One-Child Policy. Ning mentioned that a 2013 Jan video had been filmed in part to promote the launch of the Chinese edition of their book where professor Coase shared his critique of China’s One-Child Policy. I was so excited and immediately watched it twice. Here is the China’s One-Child Policy segment. (full transcript of interview here and full unedited interview video here)

Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase on China’s One-Child Policy


Belated Happy 102nd Birthday to Prof. Ronald Coase with special #PDFtribute

Saturday, 19 January, 2013

Happy belated 102nd Birthday to Nobel Economics Laureate Professor Ronald Coase. Wishing professor Coase good health and all the best in 2013!

In 2009, I took the initiative to spend a few days to download, process, upload, transcribe (small part of), and time-code professor Coase‘s 2003 Coase Lecture (a massive .mov file) to share on YouTube (6 clips in a playlist) to allow interested people from around the world to watch and learn as a way to celebrate professor Coase‘s 99th birthday.

Here is the 2003 Coase Lecture by Ronald Coase – Part 1. Watch the other 5 parts via this YouTube playlist.

For the last few birthdays of professor Coase, I mainly reshare the above video clips (with a new text interview in 2011). This time around, I’ve taken a new initiative to honour professor Coase‘s 102nd birthday. You see, a few years ago I went to the University of Calgary Law Library to conduct some US patent research for a client. As a bonus/treat for myself, I spent some time to download quite a few academic papers by professor Coase.

To celebrate professor Coase‘s 102nd birthday, I’ve uploaded the following three important papers plus a bonus paper as a special gift to readers of professor Coase‘s ideas.

Here are the PDFs of the academic papers
- 1937 – Nature of the Firm
1959 – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
1974 – The Lighthouse in Economics

Bonus academic papers
1947 – The Origin of the Monopoly of Broadcasting in Great Britain

In the wise words of professor Coase,

“The only support I got was from my contemporaries. […] If this tale has any general significance, it is that new ideas are most likely to come from the young who are also the group most likely to recognize the significance of those ideas.”

I was inspired to upload these academics papers by the #PDFtribute movement to honour the 26 years young Aaron Swartz (1986 – 2013) who died partly as a result from his fight with the outdated and outmoded JSTOR system to make academic papers available for free for all.

For me personally, I received these important papers for free from the Law Library. And I see them (Firm, FCCLighthouse) deserve to be read by as many people as possible instead of under the messed up limited JSTOR manner. The bottom line, to me, by having these papers available by a single click here is that this save people’s physical travel time to go down to their local university libraries where these papers can be downloaded for free anyway!

It has not escaped my attention and noticed the paradox that The Lighthouse in Economics is a paper that disprove, with facts, the incorrect belief by many people (including my former MBA classmate who has a B.A. degree in Economics) that Lighthouse services cannot be charged thus has to be made freely available by the governments!

*** Concluding thoughts ***

I want to emphasize that I totally agree with the many academics in the #PDFtribute movement and Aaron that it is about time we in Canada and US require academic papers to be made publicly downloadable for FREE in perpetuity if any part (or whole) of their research funding come from any level of government (thus tax payers’ money, our money)!

Happy 102nd birthday professor Coase!

Goodbye Aaron, you left us far too soon!


Ronald Coase, 101, Nobel Laureate: ‘I’ve Been Wrong So Often, I Don’t Find It Extraordinary At All’

Tuesday, 29 May, 2012

Have a listen to this precious 3:41 radio interview, “Nobel Laureate: ‘I’ve Been Wrong So Often, I Don’t Find It Extraordinary At All’“. One has to deeply admire the humility in professor’s Coase‘s answers.

Note: I had a great video interview with Ning Wang (co-author with Coase) to talk about their new book How China Became Capitalist. (Sample Chapter: You can download a free sample book chapter from Palgrave.)


Video interview Ning Wang – How China Became Capitalist, co-author with Ronald Coase Nobel Laureate in Economics

Thursday, 29 March, 2012

Kempton interview Ning Wang (co-author with Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics)) re their new book How China Became Capitalist

I had a great interview with Ning Wang (co-author with Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics)) to talk about their new book How China Became Capitalist. (Sample Chapter: You can download a free sample book chapter from Palgrave.)

I appreciate very much professor Wang spending over an hour sharing his insight with me about How China Became Capitalist and answering questions I have related to the Chinese economy. The following are edited clips of the video interview. By the way, feel free to share your comments and questions. When I finish reading the book, I plan to arrange another interview with Ning to talk more. And I may be able to incorporate some of the comments/questions into my next interview.

I have edited the interview into 3 clips with a list of questions/themes. Enjoy.

*** Main interview (see below for list of questions/themes)

Main interview (list of questions/themes)

Q1) Can you talk about the Shenzhen stock exchange in mid-90s where it had 300 offices for people to buy or sell stocks when the stock exchange actually had NO official permission to allow for these trades?!

Q2) China is now the world largest producer of Ph.Ds. Yet Qian Xuesen (錢學森), a most respected Chinese scientist asked a sobering question before his death in 2009 and the question is known as the “Qian Puzzle”.

“Why have Chinese universities not produced a single world-class original thinker or innovative scientist since 1949 ?”

Q3) Quoting the book,

“After more than three decades, the Chinese legal system is still far away from where it can “guarantee the equality of all people before the people’s laws and deny anyone the privilege of being above the law.”” 

This is a tough assessment which I agree with very much. Can you share your thoughts?

Q4) So far I’ve only read parts of the book but I feel more pessimistic of the possibility in seeing China makeing positive changes. I’m feeling more constrained by the history I now know. Can you share your thoughts?

Q5) I love this quote in the book,

“Capitalism with Chinese characteristics is very much like traffic in Chinese cities, chaotic and intimidating for many western tourists. Yet Chinese roads deliver more goods and transport more passengers than those in any other country.

Can you share your thoughts?

*** More in-depth questions

List of more in-depth questions/themes

Q1) China’s “Rule by Law” as opposite to the western practice of “Rule of Law“, that one word (“by” vs “of”) makes the difference of night and day! Can you share your thoughts? (see note 1)

Q2) “Do you see institutional arrangement as something culturally oriented or is base upon universally applicable principles? i.e. if every country is of certain uniqueness or that there exists a ‘one size fits all’ economic system?” [Thanks goes to my economist friend Wallace for this question.]

Q3) What is your and prof. Coase’s main discovery or new understanding gained from the years of research compare to the original understanding in 2008 when you started the research?

Q4) Can you talk about research topics that you and prof. Coase like to see more of? Any interesting puzzles worth further research?

*** Background questions about the book

List of background questions/themes about the book

Q1) Can you talk about the process of writing the book with professor Coase? I understand there was the 2008 Chicago Conference on China’s Market Transformation and then the 2010 Chicago Workshop on the Industrial Structure of Production.

Q2) I understand the book title has a history and may be traced back to 1982! Can you talk about it?

Q3) Given Ning’s Ph.D. wasn’t in Economics, how did he get to write this economics book and meet professor Coase?

How China Became Capitalist by Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics) & Ning Wang - published Mar 23, 2012

Thanks: Special thanks to Katy for arranging an advance copy for me to prepare for this interview and for my book review.

Notes:

1) During the writing of this post, I found a link to a book chapter “The Institutional Diffusion of Courts in China: Evidence from Survey Data” (pdf) by Pierre F. Landry, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University. This book chapter is one of the chapters in the book “Rule By Law: The Politics of Courts in Authoritarian Regimes“. While I haven’t read it, it may be something that is worth reading further.

2) On a personal note, I I think How China Became Capitalist is a ground breaking and insightful book that shines a bright light through some foggy misconceptions in our minds. Some of these misconceptions are unfortunately encouraged and repeated by the Chinese government.


Want to know How China Became Capitalist? – Free sample book chapter

Tuesday, 27 March, 2012

How China Became Capitalist by Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics) & Ning Wang - published Mar 23, 2012

Curious about How China Became Capitalist in general and not just the book or have an interesting question/puzzle related to the Chinese economy? Share it in the comment and I will see if I can work it into my interview with Ning Wang (co-author with Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics)) about How China Became Capitalist tomorrow (Mar 28) morning.

Sample Chapter: You can download a free sample book chapter from Palgrave.

March 28, 2012, 2pm Update: I had a most insightful 70+ minutes Skype interview with Ning Wang this morning. It will take me some time to edit & post the video and write the article. Stay tune.


How China Became Capitalist by Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics) & Ning Wang (pub date: Mar 23)

Tuesday, 20 March, 2012

How China Became Capitalist - Ronald Coase & Ning Wang

Just received the new book How China Became Capitalist (pub date: March 23) by Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics) and Ning Wang. (download a sample chapter from Palgrave) I am reading the book and have planned a video interview with professor Wang. Stay tune for more updates in the near future. (see also Amazon)

*** Reviews of How China Became Capitalist ***

(note: emphasis added)

‘This is a major contribution to the whole literature on economic change as well as on China. Nowhere in all of the literature on economic change and development that I know is there such a detailed study of the fumbling efforts of a society to evolve and particularly one that had as long and as far to go as China did.’ – Douglass C. North, 1993 Nobel laureate in Economics

‘This book is one of the greatest works in economics and in studies of China, not only for today, but for the future.’ – Chenggang Xu, University of Hong Kong

Ronald Coase, now 100 years plus, and Ning Wang have written a compelling and exhaustive commentary about China’s fitful transition from Socialism under Mao to today’s distinctive capitalist economy. No student of China or socialism can afford to miss this volume.’ – Richard Epstein, University of Chicago Law School

Coase finds a nation whose philosophy and policy have reflected the same simple principle – “seeking truth from facts” – that has inspired his own path-breaking analyses of firms, markets and law. A fascinating and exceptionally thought-provoking account of how China, repeatedly seeking more efficient socialism, found itself turning capitalist.‘ – Stephen Littlechild, Emeritus Professor, University of Birmingham, and Fellow, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge


Lessons from Christopher Plummer 82 and Ronald Coase 101

Tuesday, 28 February, 2012

From G&M, “Plummer says he was ‘totally prepared to lose’ on Oscar night

“Plummer said he was “totally prepared to lose. You have to be. You have to have some idea of what you’re going to say if you do win, but you really wipe it from your mind.”

After his name was announced, though, Plummer delivered one of the most polished acceptance speeches of the night.

He paid eloquent tribute to his fellow nominees – Max von Sydow, Jonah Hill, Kenneth Branagh and Nick Nolte – thanked all of those connected with the film, particularly its star, Ewan McGregor, and acknowledged the critical support given to him by his “little band of agents provocateurs … who’ve tried so hard to keep me out of jail.”

“I change that line every time I have a speech. Sometimes it’s ‘keeping me out of Sing Sing’ or ‘keeping me in martinis for all these years.’ ””

I love Mr. Plummer and think his Oscar acceptance speech is just beautiful!

Following is an insightful and very funny talk given by professor Ronald Coase when he was just 92 in 2003. And next month in March 2012, prof. Coase, now just 101 years young, will be publishing his lastest book “How China Became Capitalist“.

You see, Christopher Plummer 82 and Ronald Coase 101 are inspiring to me for they are both at an age where many people would have long “retired” to “happy” lives of doing absolutely nothing. Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing absolutely nothing. But why are Mr. Plummer and Prof. Coase still hard at work? I believe this saying says it all, “Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life“. Both Mr. Plummer and Prof. Coase are doing work they just LOVE to do. And would do it anyway even if no one pays them to.

So Mr. Plummer‘s and Prof. Coase‘s lessons for me is to find and do a job I love so that I will never have to work a day in my life! Oh, and living to 82 or 101 to work will be just GREAT and a bonus!


Economics and Judicial Behavior

Wednesday, 4 January, 2012

The insightful Prof. Ronald Coase turned 101 years old few days ago on Dec 29, 2011. The following is the 2011 edition of the yearly Coase Lecture delivered by Prof. Thomas Miles.

2011 Ronald H. Coase Lecture in Law and Economics: Economics and Judicial Behavior

P.S. I’ve finished watching the video now. I think I need a much more detail review of the referenced research papers (which I don’t have time to do) before I can decide if I have missed noticing any potential source of problems/mistakes.


New Quote I Love and early 101th birthday wish to professor Ronald Coase

Saturday, 10 December, 2011

Here is a new addition to Quotes I Love,

New ideas are most likely to come from the young who are also the group who are most likely to recognize the significance of those ideas.” - Ronald Coase in his 2003 Coase Lecture

Photo credit: by Zhaofeng Xue (薛兆丰) 2009

And I like to send an early Happy Birthday and All the Best wish to Professor Coase, for his up coming 101th birthday on 29th December, 2011! And I am looking forward to the upcoming (Feb 2012) book “How China Became Capitalist” co-authored by Prof. Coase and Ning Wang. Yes, Prof. Coase is going to be 101 years old and he is still working and writing!

The following is an insightful 2003 talk by Prof. Coase when he was _only_ 93 years old! :) (See this entry for all six video clips and time codes plus descriptions.)

2003 Coase Lecture by Ronald Coase – Part 1/6


Michael Hennessy, Senior VP, Regulatory and Government Affairs, TELUS interview @ Banff World Media Festival 2011

Saturday, 18 June, 2011

Michael Hennessy, Senior VP, Regulatory and Government Affairs, TELUS

I first met Michael Hennessy, Senior VP, Regulatory and Government Affairs, TELUS, at 2007 Banff Next Media. It was in a session where the new media panelists were beating up/”bashing” the telcos pretty badly. And then one panelist wondered out loud why there weren’t any telco representatives present in the session!? To the surprise of that panelist and everyone else (including myself), Michael, attending as a member of the audiences, identified himself as a Telus executive and tried to present Telus’ perspectives/views. (update: I just found a photo in Flickr of Michael in that 2007 session!)

Michael Hennessy, SVP Regulatory and Government Affairs TELUS (at 2007 Internet Neutrality session)

So even though I don’t usually agree with Michael‘s telco views/analysis, I respect him for speaking up that day.

So it was my pleasure to be able to interview Michael, Senior VP, Regulatory and Government Affairs, TELUS@Banff World Media Festival 2011.

The following are a few highlights of my interview video with Michael. By the way, also check out my video interview with WIND Mobile Chairman/CEO Tony Lacavera.

* 0:00 I asked Michael for his take on the Banff session where he had a few “debates” with Tony Lacavera, Chairman & CEO, Globalive/WIND Mobile.

* 1:35 Telus’ views of the recent Federal Court of Appeal ruling where WIND Mobile won (against Public Mobile and Telus)? Is Telus going to appeal the court decision along with Public Mobile to the Supreme Court of Canada?

[Kempton's note: Michael gave a long and specific answer here. At the time of my interview with Michael, I didn't have time to read/scan the "Globalive Wireless Management Corp. v. Public Mobile Inc. (2011 FCA 194) A-78-11, A-79-11" decision yet. See more comments from me in note 1.]

* 3:30 Will Telus support the appeal to the Supreme Court? Michael talks about Telus’ key focus this summer: e.g. safeguard against vertical integration, policies around spectrum auctions that are coming out.

*4:08 Michael stated, “Voice, video, and data are all going over the same pipe. You can’t regulate or treat the carriage of that differently.” And what Telus likes the government to do.

* 5:02 About the government upcoming frequency spectrum auction.

* 5:44 What about the big telcos bidding and, basically, stockpiling frequencies and NOT using them?

* 6:18 So Telus is rolling out the use of those new [AWS] frequencies now? 2012 or 2011?

* 6:45 According to Telus’ HSPA+ network builder Huawei, Telus’ HSPA+ network is the busiest in the world. (fyi 2011 news: “Huawei Opens New Headquarters in Canada“)

* 7:12 Telus’ customers are already using up the network capacity they have and thats why they are moving to LTE.

Michael stated, “We are not warehousing. Remember, unlike some of the other incumbents, we hold no spectrum at 2500 [MHz]. They hold well over 100 MHz. So thats the critical difference.

* 7:30 My question, “So from Telus’ prospective [...] Telus won’t oppose to the idea if the government say ‘If you want to auction/bid on the new frequency spectrum, one of the requirement is you have to have used up or committed funds to use your existing warehoused frequency spectrums first’ ?Read the rest of this entry »


You don’t know what you can learn – New Quote I Love

Monday, 10 January, 2011

Here is a new addition to my list of quotes I love.

“You don’t know what you can learn until you try to learn.” – Nobel Economist Ronald Coase, in an interview conducted on 28th & 29th, December 2010 when he was 100 years old


Interview with Nobel Economist Ronald Coase on his 100th birthday

Sunday, 9 January, 2011

Check out this extensive interview with Professor Ronald Coase conducted by Wang Ning on December 28 and 29, 2010 at Chicago. [Source: University of Chicago Law School] The following are excerpts that I found particularly insightful to me from the interview (with emphasis added). Read the full interview yourself. Highly recommended.

WN (Wang Ning): First of all, happy birthday, professor Coase. As you know, Chinese economists are now holding a Conference in Beijing, “Coase and China”, to celebrate your 100th birthday. To my knowledge, no other western economist, probably with the exception of Karl Marx, has ever been so honored in China. The reason is twofold. It first has to do with the powerful influence of your ideas. Second, you clearly have a special feeling toward China. In Chinese culture, reciprocity is a high virtue. The first question many Chinese people have in mind is, what got you interested in China?

RC (Ronald Coase): I don’t know why I am interested in China. I have been interested for a long time, too long for me to remember. I read Marco Polo many years ago, probably as a schoolboy. It was an impressive book. I don’t think anyone can read the book without being impressed by the Chinese civilization. It went back many centuries. It made great achievements long before the rise of the West. That impression stayed with me forever.

[...]

RC: That wouldn’t happen. I was able to do my work at Chicago just as freely as I was at Buffalo.

WN: I think you were right. Given Steve‘s character, I don’t think anyone could stop him from developing his own thought.

RC: I am glad that I later strongly urged Steve to go to Hong Kong. I did not know how much good it would do. But given Steve’s influence in China, I think it was a good move.

Read the rest of this entry »


Prof. Ronald Coase, Happy 100th Birthday!

Wednesday, 29 December, 2010

I would like to wish Prof. Ronald Coase good health and all the best on his 100th Birthday (Dec 29th, 2010) and his new book to be published in 2011 (see attached Economist article)! “… Mr Coase will publish a new book in 2011, with Ning Wang of Arizona State University, on “How China Became Capitalist”

By the way, I have watched the following lecture videos by Prof. Coase probably over 5-10 times already and I am still learning something new every time. Enjoy. Note: More info after the videos.

Also check out the following,

(video) Ronald Coase: “Markets, Firms and Property Rights”

- Audio (downloadable) Ronald H. Coase: The 17th Annual Coase Lecture

Ronald Coase Discusses Global Warming Regulation – Of Individual Liberty and Cap and Trade

- For the record, from Stephen N. S. Cheung(2011.01.04)科斯百岁了

And from Economist,

Why do firms exist? – Ronald Coase, the author of “The Nature of the Firm” (1937), turns 100 on December 29th
Schumpeter Dec 16th 2010 | from PRINT EDITION

FOR philosophers the great existential question is: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” For management theorists the more mundane equivalent is: “Why do firms exist? Why isn’t everything done by the market?” Read the rest of this entry »


Ronald Coase: “Markets, Firms and Property Rights”

Tuesday, 19 January, 2010

I’ve been waiting for Prof. Ronald Coase‘s “Markets, Firms and Property Rights” talk (video) for over a month since the 2009 Coase Conference in early December. I am happy to say the talk is now online and very insightful as expected. Highly recommended.

If you want more of Prof. Coase, you can watch this insightful 2003 Coase Lecture (with time code).


Happy 99th Birthday Prof. Ronald Coase

Tuesday, 29 December, 2009

Today (Dec 29th, 2009) is Prof. Ronald Coase‘s 99th birthday. I like to wish him a happy birthday and good health. I’ve added time codes and brief notes to his 2003 Coase Lecture (in 6 parts). Enjoy.

(note: This is a followup to an earlier entry.)

Part 1

Time Codes added to the Youtube info

0:30 Coase Lecture,
1:21 Law and Economics,
1:40 Mr. Toad The Wind in the Willows,
2:14 First year students,
2:40 What Coase did as a young student,
3:14 The events that lead to the emergence of the subject known as Law and Economics,
3:36 Professor of Economics and not a Professor of Law and Economics,
3:47 knowledge of law as an undergraduate,
4:32 following the precedence,
4:44 The Law Courts,
5:03 American cases

Part 2

Time codes

0:00 Theory of international trade. (Never thought I would laugh so hard!)
1:24 More likely to become a lawyer than an economist in university. Study of industrial law.
2:25 Go to US to study why industries are organized in different ways.
3:28 Plant was opposed to government’s schemes of coordinating production.
Read the rest of this entry »


Professor Steven N S Cheung on Ronald Coase

Monday, 7 December, 2009

Have a read of Professor Steven N S Cheung’s piece – Ronald Coase: My Once and Future Mentor“. Thanks to Gary for posting it.


2009 Coase Conference Day 2 photos (with Ronald Coase)

Sunday, 6 December, 2009

Here are some 2009 Coase Conference Day 2 photos.

The first one is a photo of Ronald Coase and Gary Becker.

Ronald Coase (L), Gary Becker (R), @ 2009 Coase Conference (Day 2), University of Chicago School of Law

2009 Coase Conference (Day 2), University of Chicago School of Law

2009 Coase Conference (Day 2), University of Chicago School of Law

2009 Coase Conference (Day 2), University of Chicago School of Law

Gary Becker (L), Richard A. Posner (C) @ 2009 Coase Conference (Day 2), University of Chicago School of Law

Photo credits: Thanks to Zhaofeng Xue (薛兆丰).


My special gift to Ronald Coase for his 99th birthday

Saturday, 5 December, 2009

In some sense, my “gift” to Prof. Ronald Coase for his 99th birthday is “special”. More on this later.

For the last 20+ years of my life, many of my thinking has been shaped and influenced by Coase, and yet I have not met him in person. Of course, how much have I actually learned or understood remains a mystery. (big smile) Allow me to share two stories.

I remember some years ago during the first year of my MBA program, somehow the topic of lighthouse came up. And I, quite off-handedly, mentioned to my classmate (he majored in economics, and I majored in computer science) that lighthouse is usually given as an example of a public good but this categorization is actually wrong.

Well, to my surprise, my classmate insisted that, “No no no. Lighthouse is a public good and you cannot charge any money for the use of it.” After a minute or so of discussion, we got back to our schoolwork. To me, from that moment on, I realized I was lucky to have some special insights. I’ve learned Coase’s ideas, including those in “The Lighthouse in Economics” via Prof. Steven Cheung‘s articles in Chinese when I was attending high school in Hong Kong. I have learned the importance in asking questions. And try not to take things/”established facts” for granted.

In yet another MBA class, this time an ethics class. The professor asked a simple question, something like, “Why do we have ‘company’/’corporation’?” In hope to lead to some discussions about ethics (well, it was an ethics course after all). What my professor didn’t expect was me raising my hand and answered, “To reduce transaction cost.” :)

Now, without further delay, allow me to present my “special” and virtual gift to Prof. Coase. Wishing Prof. Coase a very happy 99th birthday (in advance) and good health for many more years to come.

My “special” “gift”

This gift is “special” because I think the best gift to give to someone like Prof. Coase, who has everything he needs in the world and likely every material thing he wants, is to “pay it forward“. Prof. Coase himself doesn’t really benefit from the gift itself, it is the people who may learn from Prof. Coase that are benefitting. So I am “paying it forward” or “gifting” forward.

As you may know, the wonderfully insightful (and often humorous) 2003 Coase Lecture was delivered by Prof. Coase himself. And the full lecture has been available online via Coase Institute for free download and viewing for some time now. Unfortunately, unless the person has an extremely fast internet connection and have patient to wait for an hour or two or more, downloading the 525MB quicktime video file (this is very big) can still be quite a challenge. And for those that have slower regular internet access, viewing the lecture is practically impossible.

So as a “special” gift to Prof. Coase for his 99th birthday, I have taken the initiative and spent most of the night (well, actually last night and now well into the wee hours) to compress and upload the video onto YouTube.

This “gift” is “special” also because I’ve bent quite a few rules. Since this is a gift for Prof. Coase’s 99th birthday, I hope the “deciders” don’t mind and will let me give this “gift”. :)

Hope you enjoy the 2003 Coase Lecture (in 6 parts).

Read the rest of this entry »


2009 Coase Conference – Day 1 brief notes and photos

Saturday, 5 December, 2009

Thanks a lot to my friend Zhaofeng for allowing me to quote and use a brief summary of his personal notes (in Chinese) and photos of day one of the 2009 Coase Conference. I am hoping and looking forward to the Information Economy Project at George Mason University School of Law posting the videos for the 2009 Coase Conference very soon.

Here are some photos.

University of Chicago School of Law2009 Coase Conference registration @ University of Chicago School of Law

Ronald Coase @ 2009 Coase Conference, University of Chicago School of LawThomas Hazlett (L), David Porter and Vernon Smith @ 2009 Coase Conference, University of Chicago School of Law

Doug North @ 2009 Coase Conference, University of Chicago School of Law


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