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Harold Demsetz, 1930-2019

The economics profession lost a giant on January 4th: Harold Demsetz. (I just learned of his death from a text sent by GMU Econ student Jon Murphy.) I will write more about Demsetz in a later post, but I must say here that he was one of the greatest economic thinkers in history. Demsetz thought deeply and creatively and philosophically about issues. A master of microeconomic theory, Demsetz was unsurpassed – and rarely matched – in exercising the wisdom necessary to understand how to apply that theory and what conclusions to draw from it.

I met Demsetz on a few occasions. I’m proud to say that years ago he would visit Cafe Hayek and sometimes send me e-mails in response – e-mails always insightful and filled with relevance.

Demsetz is one of the greatest economists not to have won a Nobel Prize. The roster of actual Prize winners who are less-deserving of that honor than is Demsetz is long.