Ronald Coase – Great minds of our time

Ronald H. Coase

It is my great pleasure to finally fulfill my earlier promise to blog about professor Ronald H. Coase (1910 – 2013) in my Great Minds of Our Time series.

As I blogged earlier, “Here is prof. Coase’s 2003 Coase Centennial Speech (500MB QuickTime file, recommend downloading it before you watch it) from Ronald Coase Institute’s online material section.” I now can say I have watched or listened to the video more than three times now, and I am sure I will still learning from it when I watch it again.

I am going to use a different approach to blog about professor Ronald H. Coase for this Great Minds of Our Time entry. Here is my Top 10 list,

  1. Ronald is a really funny and sharp witted man as we clearly can see from his 2003 Coase Centennial Speech.
  2. Well, he does have a Nobel Prize in Economics.
  3. Ronald’s “The Federal Communications Commission” has helped governments around the world “make” billions from Frequency Spectrum Auctions. (including the latest round of auction by the FCC in U.S.)
  4. When describing a ground breaking discussion where his idea in the FCC paper fundamentally shifted the thinking of University of Chicago, he said, “I could not understand why a statement, the equivalent of 2+2=4, should be treated on the par with e = m c square.
  5. His 1974 “The Lighthouse in Economics” not only shed light in economics but also taught us an important lesson in not to take things for granted and the fruits in doing research from the ground up with real data.
  6. Have I already said that he is a funny (and humble) man? (smile)
  7. And he was 93 years young when he gave the speech in 2003!
  8. Millions of Chinese have learned about Coase’s work even before he won his Prize in 1991 because of Steven Cheung. (As an aside, Steven Cheung bid $25 (in an used books/magazines auction) and bought a copy of the 1958 first issue of Journal of Law and Economics which contains Ronald’s “The Federal Communications Commission“.)
  9. I want to thank Prof. Steven Cheung again for introducing ideas from great economists like Professors Coase and Friedman to millions of Chinese over the years.
  10. Ronald, age 93 then, said this at the 2003 Coase Centennial Speech, “New ideas are most likely to come from the young. Who are also the group most likely to recognize the significance of those ideas.


Feb 15th, 2008 Update: Additional readings,

  1. Looking For Results – Nobel laureate Ronald Coase on rights, resources, and regulation – by Thomas W. Hazlett
  2. A Conversation with Ronald Coase, 2006 – by Wladimir Zanoni
  3. Bio at
  4. Bio at University of Chicago Law School

4 Responses to Ronald Coase – Great minds of our time

  1. […] P.P.S. As an admirer of Prof. Ronald Coase, it is wonderful to hear from Heiwai that Prof. Coase’s mind is still very sharp at the conference (at the young age of 97). If you have time, I highly recommend watching Prof. Coase demonstrating his funny and sharp witted side in this 2003 Coase Centennial Speech which I previous blogged about here. […]

  2. […] my opinion Ronald Coase is one of the great minds of our time and his “The Federal Communications Commission” has helped governments around the world […]

  3. Croft, Ray says:

    I thought that Ronald Coase was one of the finest minds that I came across as an undergraduate analytical economics student at LSE between 1949/1951.
    His discussions on public utility pricing strategies and their investment decisions, peak-loading and off-peak have remained with me for ever after and I am thankful he was recognized and rewarded.

  4. kempton says:

    Thanks for sharing your personal experience with Professor Coase.

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