Pursuit of Truthiness

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So long and thanks for the $60 billion, Ronald Coase

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There have been a lot of great appreciations for Coase’s theorems after his recent death at age 102.

But one thing I haven’t seen emphasized is his work on spectrum allocation. Coase suggested auctioning off radio/tv/cellular spectrum instead of giving it to select companies through a licensing process.

This has improved life for consumers (speeding the adoption of cell phones, for instance) at the same time that it raised $60 billion for the government. As John Siegfried noted in Better Living Through Economics, this one suggestion brought in more money than the US government has spent on economic research in its entire 200+ year history.

It is worth keeping all of us around even if most are worthless, just in case one turns out to be the next Coase.


Written by James Bailey

September 4, 2013 at 6:03 pm