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« Two More Join the Club: Congratulations to Dr. Skarbek and Dr. Watts | Main | Law, Economics, and Superstition Part 2: "Trial by Battle" »


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Of all those Pete mentioned, Armen Alchian is clearly the economist who most deserves the prize but hasn't received it. He is also the most under-appeciated price theorist of the last century. UCLA had many dominant figures when I went there, but Alchian was first among equals.

Alchian's work price setting is seminal and I find many discussions on the issue vapid because participants aren't familiar with his work. He constitutes the alternative to Samuelson.

His work on uncertainty is the most important and original since Knight's. Austrians not familiar with it are poorer for it.

He co-authored an undergraduate economics text, University Economics, which the graduate students read before prelims because it was written at such a high level and reflected Alchian's approach. It was also the source of prelim questions. In turn, the teaching assiatants would pull prelim questions and take them into Econ. 1 classes as teaching material. It was tough to be an undergraduate in that department.

I actually took price theory and capital theory from Hirshleifer. When I wrote what I hoped would be my first full-length journal article, however, it was Alchian I gave it to for comments. I knew he'd be the toughest critic. He liked it and I sent it to Ronald Coase at the JLE. He published it essentially unchanged. That was the kind of preparation we got at UCLA.


I agree that Alchian is a great economist.

His Noble prize faces the trip wire that the committee usually point to certain specific big contributions. Alchian made many but they were in smaller packages.

They say that Alchian published little yet he has a 1600 page collected works.

Alchian co-wrote three brilliant text books. A revised paperback edition of Universal Economics (2005) is supposed to be due out this year co-written by Alchian and Allison.

Kirzner and Tullock may have the same difficulty - writing mostly an incremental body of work.

Kirzner does have Competition and Entrepreneurship as his principal claim.

Tullock faced the extra disadvantage his crowning co-achievement, The Calculus of Consent, was cited on Buchanan’s prize. I found that to be most surprising because, as I recall, the preface of that book is explicit about which chapters are from which author and which were joint.

One of the greatest compliments I've received in my career was from the late Ken Koford who, upon receiving very critical negative referee reports of a paper I submitted to the Eastern Economic Journal, nonetheless gave me a revise-and-resubmit because (as he said) he saw an Alchian-ish quality to the paper. (He eventually accepted and published it, which simply compounded the praise.)

I think that the Nobel committee have shown their political direction in recent years. I doubt that any of the economists you mention will receive the prize.

I would add Paul Romer to the list, maybe Avandish Dixit too.

Bruce Caldwell and Philip Mirowski deserve a Nobel for using the great tradition of economic science in its historical development to rethink the very science of economics itself -- more profound work than that produced by many Nobel winners.

It's a scientific tragedy that out of print textbooks are made available free in electronic form.

"Of the economists/political economists who have not yet won the Nobel Prize, who would be at the top of your list?"

Raymond Boudon. Admittedly he is not an economist, but he is the one who has written the most perceptive and illuminating works about rationality (among his other notable contributions: mobility and inequalities, unintended consequences of social action, methodological individualism, and social change).

Raymond Boudon is a French sociologist, by the way, and deserves to be widely known among Austrian economists.

Government-back-stopped investment banks behaving like hedge funds on the taxpayer dime have given capitalism a pretty bad rep lately.

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