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


Kempton & Wallace talk Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China’s One-Child Policy

Friday, 25 January, 2013

The news report “One-child policy: China’s army of little emperors – The one-child policy has fundamentally changed the psychology of a generation” intrigued Economic Analyst Wallace Chan and this independent reporter. So tonight, we held a LIVE YouTube chat about the research paper “Little Emperors” and China’s One-Child Policy in two languages. Here are the recordings.

(In English) Kempton & Wallace talk Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China’s One-Child Policy 

(in Cantonese) 經濟分析師陳心田與獨立記者林錦堂講一講 – 小皇帝:中國的”一家一孩”政策對行為的影響

Reference: (1) “Little Emperors: Behavioral Impacts of China’s One-Child Policy” by L. Cameron, N. Erkal, L. Gangadharan, X. Meng

(2) “沒有兄弟姐妹的社會” by 張五常 (Steven Cheung)

Jan 26, 2013 Update: Here is a new Jan 2013 video clip of “Nobel Laureate Ronald Coase on China’s One-Child Policy“. For more (including link to transcripts) see this article.

October 29, 2015 Update: After China initiated its One-Child Policy in 1979, it is finally over today. CBC News, “China to abolish one-child policy, Communist Party says


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!


Roth at Harvard & Shapley at UCLA won 2012 Nobel Prize in Economics

Tuesday, 16 October, 2012

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced earlier today that the 2012 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel will divided equally between Alvin E. Roth (Harvard University) and Lloyd S. Shapley (UCLA) “for the theory of stable allocations and the practice of market design“.

Roth was interviewed over the phone immediately by the Nobel foundation following the announcement. The audio interview, hearing the answers in the words and tone of the Nobel Laureate  is always interesting fascinating. Here is a brief insightful exchange excerpt from the interview transcript that explains what the this year’s winners won for,

AG [Allegra Grevelius, from Nobelprize.org, the Nobel Prize website]: I understand. Many of Nobelprize.org’s visitors are high school students. How would you explain your prize awarded work in layman’s terms?

AR [Alvin E. Roth]: Well, my prize is about matching and matching is the work that the economy does when deciding for instance which students go to which schools. If they have a choice so high school students in some cities get matched through a choice system where they submit preferences and the schools have requirements perhaps preferences also. And some decisions are made who goes where. And that’s what matching is about. It’s about who gets what. And um, we try to, in the school choice, we try to make it happen in a way that is sufficient but doesn’t, but doesn’t send people to schools they would rather swap with other people if the schools would allow them. Um, and if your students are in high school, they are going to go through many matching markets in their lives. They’re going to get married, they’re going to get jobs, and so, they can think about us then.

AG: Yes, it is very interesting. So your work has a lot of practical applications in our lives, school applications, maybe matching kidney donors and receivers. Are you driven as an economist by these questions by applying your theories to real life?AR: Yes, economics is about real life, so I’m very interested in that.

[…]

AG: Yeah, indeed. As a young person, what inspired you to be an economist?

AR: Well, I didn’t become an economist until rather late in life. My PhD is operational research. I was interested in making things work better and using mathematics to help do that. So operational research is what I studied as an undergraduate and graduate student. The kinds of things that I found myself interested in, trying to understand and trying to make things work better were things that involved people and that meant economics.

Cross posted by me at examiner.com


Dr. Michael J. Burry at UCLA Economics Commencement 2012

Monday, 25 June, 2012

Dr. Michael J. Burry at UCLA Economics Commencement 2012 - pix

Some (including the US Federal Reserve) likes to claim nobody could have seen the 2008 financial collapse coming. Meet Dr. Michael Burry. I am watching him this morning. [HT Greg]

Dr. Michael J. Burry at UCLA Economics Commencement 2012


陳心田 與 林錦堂 講一講 “工會罷工/談判權” – Wallace and Kempton discuss union right to strike/bargaining rights (Cantonese On Air LIVE broadcast)

Saturday, 9 June, 2012

Last time Wallace and I talked about the Facebook “investment” before the super hyped IPO. Unfortunately, we were 100% right. What we discussed (the nature of Facebook, what is “investing”, etc) were backed by what we now have seen. And many many people actually lost billions on paper! You can watch our pilot episode here: “林錦堂與陳心田講一講 Facebook “投資”“.)

This time, Wallace and I talked about union’s right to strike/bargaining rights (Air Canada, CP rail). You can watch it here: 陳心田 與 林錦堂 講一講 “工會罷工”. We hope you enjoy our show!


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