Edward S. Mason

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Edward Sagendorph Mason (February 22, 1899 – February 29, 1992) was an American economist and professor at Harvard University. He was the Dean of the Graduate School of Public Administration, now known as the John F. Kennedy School of Government, from 1947 to 1958. He was the president of the American Economic Association in 1962. He became known for his work in industrial organization, an area in which provided direct inspiration to Joe Bain for his SCP model, and in development economics.


  • The term monopoly as used in the law is not a tool of analysis but a standard of evaluation. Not all trusts are held monopolistic but only" bad" trusts; not all restraints of trade are to be condemned but only" unreasonable" restraints.
    • Edward S. Mason, "Monopoly in Law and Economics." The Yale Law Journal 47.1 (1937): 34-49; Cited in: Barry Hawk (1998), International Antitrust Law & Policy: Fordham Corporate Law 1998. p. 362

"Price and production policies of large-scale enterprise," 1939


Edward S. Mason, "Price and production policies of large-scale enterprise." The American Economic Review 29.1 (1939): 61-74.

  • The current emphasis on price policy, as against price, as a proper object of study represents recent economic reflection on the significance of expectations, uncertainties, market control, and the position of price as one among many selling terms. Policy implies some degree of control over the course of events and, at the same time, the use of judgment as to the probable consequences of alternative lines of action. In perfect markets, whether monopolistic or competitive, price is hardly a matter of judgment and where there is no judgment there is no policy. The area of price policy, then, embraces the deliberative action of buyers and sellers able to influence price; that is to say, it covers practically the whole field of industrial prices.
    • p. 61
  • The size of a firm influences its competitive policies in a number of ways. In the first place the scale of its purchases and sales relative to the total volume of transactions in the firm's market is one indication of the extent of its market control. Taken in conjunction with other data it may throw a good deal of light on price and production policies. Certain authorities, on the other hand, brush aside figures on the relative size of firms as irrelevant and emphasize the decisive importance of the elasticity of the firm's demand curve. 3 It would no doubt be extremely convenient if economists knew the shape of individual demand and cost curves and could proceed forthwith, by comparisons of price and marginal cost, to conclusions regarding the existing degree of monopoly power. The extent to which the monopoly theorists, however, refrain from an empirical application of their formulae is rather striking.
    • p. 62

Quotes about Edward S. Mason

  • In the late 1930s, E.S. Mason wrote a series of papers which established the research programme which became industrial organisation. Many of these papers discussed the lessons for antitrust policy from the Robinson/ Chamberlin revolution. Although these papers made some proposals for a strengthening of antimonopoly measures, it is clear that there is a decisive break between the emerging Harvard school the old J.B. Clark/ Marshallian preoccupation with freedom and openness of competition, which Mason refers to as "antiquated and inadequate."
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