George Stigler

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George Joseph Stigler (January 17, 1911December 1, 1991) was a U.S. economist. He won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1982, and was a key leader of the Chicago School of Economics, along with his close friend Milton Friedman.

Quotes[edit]

  • A rational man must be guided by the incentive system within which he operates. No matter what his own personal desires, he must be discouraged from certain activities if they carry penalties and attracted toward others if they carry large rewards. The carrot and the stick guide scientists and politicians as well as donkeys.
    • Stigler (1975, p.171) as cited in: Owen E.Hughes (2003) Public Management and Administration. p.11

"The economics of information," 1961[edit]

Stigler, George J. "The economics of information." The journal of political economy (1961): 213-225.

  • One should hardly have to tell academicians that information is a valuable resource: knowledge is power. And yet this occupies a slum dwelling in the town of economics. Mostly it is ignored.
    • p. 213 ; lead paragraph
  • Some important aspects of important aspects of economic organization take on a new meaning when they are considered from the viewpoint of the search of information.
    • p. 213
  • Price dispersion is a manifestation — and, indeed, it is the measure — of ignorance in the market. Dispersion is a biased measure of ignorance because there is never absolute homogeneity in the commodity if we include the terms of sale within the concept of the commodity. Thus, some automobile dealers might perform more service, or carry a larger range of varieties in stock, and a portion of the observed dispersion is presumably attributable to such differences. But it would be metaphysical, and fruitless, to assert that all dispersion is due to heterogeneity.
    • p. 214

"The theory of economic regulation," 1971[edit]

Stigler, George J. "The theory of economic regulation." The Bell journal of economics and management science (1971): 3-21.

  • The state --the machinery and power of the state-- is a potential resource or threat to every industry in the society. With its power to prohibit or compel, to take or give money, the state can and does selectively help or hurt a vast number of industries. That political juggernaut, the petroleum industry, is an immense consumer of political benefits, and simultaneously the underwriters of marine insurance have their more modest repast. The central tasks of the theory of economic regulation are to explain who will receive the benefits or burdens of regulation, what form regulation will take, and the effects of regulation upon the allocation of resources.
    • p. 3; Lead paragraph
  • Regulation may be actively sought by an industry, or it may be thrust upon it. A central thesis of this paper is that, as a rule, regulation is acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefit. There are regulations whose net effects upon the regulated industry are undeniably onerous; a simple example is the differentially heavy taxation of the industry's product (whiskey, playing cards). These onerous regulations, however, are exceptional and can be explained by the same theory that explains beneficial (we may call it "acquired") regulation.
    • p. 3
  • Two main alternative views of the regulation of industry are widely held. The first is that regulation is instituted primarily for the protection and benefit of the public at large or some large subclass of the public. In this view, the regulations which injure the public -as when the oil import quotas increase the cost of petroleum products to America by $5 billion or more a year- are costs of some social goal (here, national defense) or, occasionally, perversions of the regulatory philosophy. the second view is essentially that the political process defies rational explanation: "politics" is an imponderable, a constantly and unpredictably shifting mixture of forces of the most diverse nature, comprehending acts of great moral virtue (the emancipation of slaves) and of the most vulgar venality (the congressman feathering his own nest).
    • p. 3

"George J. Stigler - Banquet Speech," 1982[edit]

"George J. Stigler - Banquet Speech". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 16 Jun 2014.

  • Unlike the members of the physical and biological sciences, the economist is asked to explain his work in a manner that is interesting and convincing to a weary listener. Yet there is no reason to believe that the explanation of our economic and social world is inherently simpler than the explanation of our physical world.
  • The delicate and intricate pattern of competition and cooperation in the economic behavior of the hundreds of thousands of citizens of Stockholm offers a challenge to the economist that is perhaps as complex as the challenges of the physicist and the chemist.

"George J. Stigler - Biographical," 1982[edit]

George J. Stigler. "George J. Stigler - Biographical," The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 1982

  • Early in my professional life, I found that many areas of economics attracted me. I started working and publishing in price theory by 1938. In 1946, I published an early work on linear programming (The Cost of Subsistence) which solved the problem only approximately; George Dantzig soon presented the exact solution. In the 1940s, I began empirical work on price theory, starting with a test of the kinked oligopoly demand curve theory of rigid prices.
  • In the 1950s, I proposed the survivor method of determining the efficient sizes of enterprises, and worked on delivered price systems, vertical integration, and similar topics.
  • It was in the 1960s that I began the detailed study of public regulation. My interests were aroused, and my faith in the cliches of the subject destroyed, as so often with other subjects, by the discussions with my friend, Aaron Director. This wonderful man is that rarest of scholars: a clear-headed, imaginative, erudite man who enjoys the task of constructing luminous and original theories but does not even write them down!

Quotes about George Stigler[edit]

  • I recall an incident involving the late George Stigler at a conference in Spain in the 1980s. Hearing that I had written a book on reason and natural law, Stigler started to ridicule reason, going so far as to say that there is as much reason in a monkey's antics as in any human act. At that point I asked him whether he was trying to tell me something about how he wrote his books; he gave me a blank stare and stormed out of the room.
    • Frank Van Dun (2009) "Argumentation Ethics and the Philosophy of Freedom," in: Libertarian Papers. 1 (19). 1-32.

External links[edit]

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