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Steven Medema of University of Colorado Denver to be Awarded a Grant from the Institute for New Economic Thinking


The Institute will fund Professor Medema’s project to write an intellectual history of the Coase theorem

New York, NY, November 08, 2010 --(PR.com)-- The Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), launched with a $50 million pledge from George Soros to promote changes in economic theory and practice through research grants, Task Force groups, academic partnerships, and conferences, announced that it has selected Steven G. Medema of University of Colorado Denver to be awarded a project grant through the Institute’s Inaugural Grant Program to write a book-length intellectual history of the Coase theorem, one of the most important and controversial ideas to emerge in the post-World War II literature in economics. The grant program, along with other INET initiatives, was created in direct response to arguably the worst economic crisis in world history, and has been designed to encourage and support new economic thinking. Starting in 2011, INET will conduct two grant cycles annually.

The Coase theorem has transformed economists’ analysis of phenomena known as “externalities” – situations in which the actions of one party have spillover effects on others (e.g., pollution) – by suggesting that these problems can be successfully resolved through the market rather than requiring government intervention. Many economics and legal scholars have been very preoccupied with this theorem, which has not ever been proven, and seems so obviously unrealistic. Through the study, Professor Medema plans to use INET’s funding to further the understanding of why the theorem came to captivate the minds of economics and legal scholars and how its impact on economics and law reshaped both the theoretical landscape and legal-economic policymaking, while continuing the argument for the relevance of the study of the history of economic ideas.

“In economics and study of market imperfections, one of great innovations and great challenges to thinking had been the Coase theorem. It has had an enormous impact on the discipline of law and economics,” commented Dr. Robert Johnson, Executive Director of INET. “This work is very timely as numerous issues such as global sustainability are being widely debated.”

Steven G. Medema is a Professor of Economics at the University of Colorado Denver. His research focuses most heavily but not exclusively on the post-WWII history of economics, with particular attention to economists’ views of the roles of market and state in economic activity and the extension of economic analysis beyond its traditional boundaries (“economics imperialism”). He served as editor of the Journal of the History of Economic Thought from 1998-2008 and was President of the History of Economics Society in 2009-10. His latest book, The Hesitant Hand: Taming Self- Interest in the History of Economic Ideas, was published by Princeton in 2009.

“The controversy over the Coase theorem and the theorem’s diffusion into economic and legal thinking is a fascinating episode in the history of economic ideas both for its impact on economics and law and because of the insights it provides into how economists go about doing economics,” said Steven Medema, Professor of Economics at the University of Colorado Denver. I am very grateful that INET has seen fit to support this research and, more generally, to advocate for the importance of the study of the history of economics as a scholarly field and in the training of economists.

INET’s Inaugural Grant Program has been designed to harness the new economic thinking they recognize as crucial to effecting change. The program was launched this summer and received more than 500 applications from around the world and has selected 31 initiatives to be awarded grants totaling $7 million. INET's Grant Program will continue with two similar grant cycles annually, the next one commencing in the spring of 2011.

For further details regarding INET’s Grant Program or additional projects and people to be awarded grants please visit the Institute’s website.

About the Institute for New Economic Thinking:
Launched in October 2009 with a $50 million commitment from George Soros and driven by the global financial crisis, the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) is dedicated to empowering and supporting the next generation of economists and scholars in related fields through research grants, Task Force groups, academic partnerships, and conferences. INET embraces the professional responsibility to think beyond current paradigms. Ultimately, INET is committed to broadening and accelerating the development of innovative thinking that can lead to insights into and solutions for the great challenges of the 21st century and return economics to its core mission of guiding and protecting society. For more information please visit http://www.ineteconomics.org/

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Institute for New Economic Thinking
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