On December 29, 2010 (Beiing)
1. Morning Session
Professor Ronald Coase, Mrs. Coase, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let's start the conference: Coase and China. This conference is holding in three different places: Chicago, Beijing, and Shanghai, with two different times. Now it is 19 o'clock, December 28 in Chicago, or 9 o'clock, December 29 in Beijing and Shanghai. However, all of us at the conference have a common time. Now it is 1 o'clock, December 29, 2010 in London. Near London, there is a place called Willesden where 100 years ago, on December 29, 1910, a boy was born. Afterward, this boy became a great man, who launched a revolution in the field of economics, started up the new institutional economics which influenced very much the economic practices, especially those of the reform in China. His name is Ronald Harry Coase.
Today, we are gathering for celebrating together his 100th birthday. We understand very clearly that we can not present him a birthday gift more valuable than a spiritual one, because he is a thinker. Therefore, we are holding here this conference.
Firstly, I'd like to invite a very important figure, Prof. Steve. N. S. Cheung, to represent us to extend our congratulations to Prof. Coase on his 100th birthday. Let's welcome Prof. Steve. N. S. Cheung to give us a speech.
Prof. Steven N. S. Cheung: (The English translation of a Chinese blog text, "Coase Turned a Hundred", written by Prof. Cheung was released in substitution for the transcript of the original English speech)
Coase Turned a Hundred
To mark Coase's 100th birthday, some friends in Beijing held a "Coase and China" conference. My sister happened to visit Shanghai at that time. I had to entertain the old lady and could not join the conference. With Coase becoming a centenarian, it would be inappropriate if I, the youngest old man, did not say a few words. Our friends therefore arranged a videoconference, at three distinct places, over the Internet.
Advanced technology floundered. We had a few barely successful trials, and on the very day we spent half an hour in a futile attempt to make ourselves clearly heard and seen. Time was up. Braving it out, I talked casually for 20 minutes. Then, a day later, and it was Coase's birthday in the States' time zone, his assistant e-mailed the message that Coase was disappointed at not being able to hear me. He wanted me to give the speech again, directly to him, over the Internet. This time he heard me well. Speaking from memory, it was perhaps somewhat different from what I said in the previous day. My wife kept telling me to slow down. My talk was more systematic this time, as I presented it by points. They were roughly as follows:
1. Economics flourished most notably in two periods, at two places ― the 1930s, at the London School of Economics, and the 1960s, at Chicago. To my knowledge, Coase is the only person who had participated in both. The 1960s saw the most promising development of economics, and Coase was a major contributor. I reckon, therefore, that in terms of timing Coase is the most blessed economist in a hundred years.
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