Tuesday, January 15, 2013

James Buchanan Dies

James Buchanan died on January 9, a few days after the AEA meetings ended.  He won the Nobel Prize in econmics in 1986.  An obituary on him can be found here, and some comments on his importance by Tyler Cowen can be found on his blog. Buchanan was a very important economist and his Nobel was well-earned. In recent years, I have been reading him a lot more.  Since my major area in grad school was industrial organization and I never had a public finance course in grad school, I didn't read him much when I was younger.  But I have increasingly found him of more significance.  In one manner is that I no longer begin micro classes with the idea of scarcity but instead the idea that specialization of labor is productive. This is a point he made in his presidential address to the Southern Economic Association, "What Should Economists Do?",  and was published in the Soutern Economic Journal in January 1964. I am still struggling with his views on cost as found in his short book, Cost and Choice: An Inquiry in Economic Theory. The Liberty Fund has published the collected works of Buchanan, and it is 20 volumes. He had an extraordinary career.

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