May 2 2013
photo by Damiano Paganelli/Flickr.com
This commentary appeared in The Wall Street Journal on April 30, 2013.
Ronald Coase ranks among the world's most influential economists, yet he rarely appears in the media spotlight. That's because he channels his influence through other economists, while maintaining a prudent distance from the glare of quotidian policy disputes. Mr. Coase, who received the Nobel Prize for economics in 1991, has originated some of the most important economic ideas of recent years. These include the eponymous Coase Theorem, which states that strong, precisely defined property rights can reduce the social costs of private transactions. He has also pioneered the law-and-economics field, using economic insights to illuminate legal problems. He's 102, yet his intellectual output remains dazzling.
In “How China Became Capitalist,” Mr. Coase and Ning Wang, an assistant professor of global studies at Arizona State University, offer a “historical narrative of the chain of actions” that brought about China's remarkable transformation from a deeply impoverished socialist country to the world's second-largest economy.