by Tyler Cowen
on May 4, 2014 at 12:15 pm
in Current Affairs, Economics
Greg Mankiw offers the sad news. He was perhaps the greatest living economist.
RIP. Selfishly, I will miss his articles on http://www.becker-posner-blog.com/ … Clear reasoning, consideration of counterarguments with respect, and topics that were small enough to be tractable but big enough to merit attention: ending the embargo in Cuba, legalizing marijuana, college enrollment trends, and size of government.
“Government should do much less so they can concentrate on and do better with the tasks they are most needed for, such as police and military, infrastructure, safety nets, and regulation of activities with big externalities. Regrettably, I am not optimistic that much can be achieved quickly in slimming down governments, given the strong self-interests and special interests that benefit from the present situation.”
We need more voices like this, and just lost one.
I’m afraid he was a man of his cohort and time. The sort of class you are referring to was a baseline expectation among the bourgeois of his era. No more.
Always impressed that Becker and Posner at their age were to put out such high quality, thoughtful writing at pretty significant volume, *just* as an uncompensated side project.
I studied at Chicago and had the privilege to meet Professor Becker a few times. He was one of the most brilliant people I ever met. What I’ll never forget are the three times I went to my office on a Sunday – and Becker was in his office, working diligently, every time. No question the best living economist but also the hardest working. He made his own success, he will be missed by many.
Lamento profundamente la desaparición física del Prof. Gary Becker. Mis condolencias a sus familiares y amigos. Que su fuerza espiritual, no ayude a los que momentaneamente quedamos en esta estación pasajera. Paz a su alma
I had the privilege of meeting Professor Becker for the first time this past February at a conference at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. He looked really good, was attentive the whole time during the two-day conference (didn’t catch him napping once during any of the talks), very engaged during the Q&A sessions, and was a really kind and humble man. I sat next to him and Richard Epstein during lunch and it was a thrill to listen to their Chicago stories about Posner, Coase and others.
Don’t take this too seriously but the first thing I thought about your greatest living economist point was ‘ how long had that been your opinion?’, given Alchian and Coase died recently
I believe he WAS the greatest living economist. But he was not just an economist. I had the privilege of knowing him well. He was first and foremost a really great person, so warm, and so understanding. I will miss him greatly.
re: working on Sundays. Someone once told me that Martin Feldstein sleeps only x hours per night (I forget what x was, but it was a small number, 4 or something like that). I wonder if top researchers are productive in part because they can work more hours per day?
A really *sweet* thinker, and a pity to lose.
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