Thursday, November 06, 2008

Learn Property Rights Economics from its Guru

Here is the opportunity. More importantly, it is FREE, for now anyway. The chapters are from professor Yoram Barzel's property rights economics text. The first edition came out 1989 and the second one came out in 1997, I read both and the text is an excellent introduction to the subject though professor Barzel's writing can be dry at times. My guess is the online chapters indicate that professor Barzel is preparing the third edition of the book.

Needless to say, I am a true fan of professor Barzel's work. Not only because he was a former colleague of professor Steven Cheung, also as a result of his extension and elaboration of the Washingtonian Approach to Transaction Cost Economics pioneered by Steve (where the measurement problem occupies the center stage of the paradigm). The other alternative of course is that advocated by UC Berkeley's emeritus professor O E Williamson where asset specificity, incomplete contracts, bounded rationality, and opportunism are its major focus.

(An aside: I once believed that the measurement approach to TCE was at least inspired by the characteristic approach of consumer theory pioneered by Kevin Lancaster. So I asked the professor sometime ago in 2005 if that was the case. Guess how the professor responded? The attributes embodied in the goods in Lancaster's are exogenously given, whereas the attributes were endogenously determined in the measurement approach. Brilliant.)

I quite enjoy his Theory of the State book a bit, unfortunately the book fails to grasp the attention of most economists. In Steve's three volume works Economic Explanation (in Chinese) the theory of the state has received little and limited coverage. I once pointed that out to the professor. The professor agreed and promised to write more on this when it is time to revise the works. Recently, the professor reminded me that he would start working on revising the three volume works very soon. So stay tuned.

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