Henry E. Smith

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It is often said that the mark of great work, and a great theory in particular, is that it seems obvious in retrospect. And among such theories, some of the most impressive are those that aim to explain not just the problems dujour but also a range of facts about life that we have tended to take for granted. In law and economics, the Coase Theorem seems self-evident now, and the situations it covers positively homely, but at the time, against the backdrop of the idealizations and obsessions with frictionless worlds of mid-twentieth century economics, it was anything but obvious. Not only did it take a night's worth of partying in Chicago to make converts there, but refutations of the Coase Theorem sprouted up for quite a while afterwards.

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