A Conversation with Armen A. Alchian

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Armen A. Alchian, Daniel K. Benjamin
August 1, 2001 | Liberty Fund | Duración:..
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  • Initial credits
  • The Intellectual Portrait Series
  • Introducing Armen A. Alchian
  • A conversation with Armen A. Alchian by Daniel K. Benjamin
  • Childhood, family and education
  • Uncertainty, evolution, and economic theory
  • Property rights
  • Inflation
  • Information costs and the firm
  • University Economics
  • Economics, individuals, and clans
  • Final words
  • Final credits
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A Conversation with Armen A. Alchian
Armen A. Alchian, Daniel K. Benjamin

Liberty Fund: The Intellectual Portrail Series
Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2001

Thanks to Liberty Fund Inc. for permission to distribute this program. For further information about rights to this program or others produced by Liberty Fund Inc. go to The Intellectual Portrait Series and Copyright and Fair Use policy. 

Digitized by New Media - UFM. Guatemala, September 2013

Selected quotes, questions and external links: Amy M. Willis, Liberty Fund Fellow

Imagen: cc.jpgThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 License
Este trabajo ha sido registrado con una licencia Creative Commons 3.0

Armen A. Alchian

Armen A. Alchian
Armen A. Alchian (1914-2013) fue profesor emeritus de Economía en University of California, Los Angeles y fundador de la “tradición UCLA” en el área de Economía de esa institución. Fue miembro de la Escuela de Chicago, de Mont Pelerin Society y de Foundation for Research in Economics and Education; también, fundador de la nueva economía institucional. Alchian fue autor de Economic Forces at Work y de Exchange and Production, y coautor de University Economics. Recibió un BA y PhD por Stanford University.

Fuente: noticias.ufm.edu
Última actualización: 30/09/2013

Selected Quotes by Armen A. Alchian:

"In those days, there were no unemployed; there were bums."

"What a guy tries to do is less important than what the survival tests are."

"I don’t give a damn what your incentives are; it's what you do."

"Any economist knows that marginal costs are always rising. They don't fall."

"Economics is the study of property rights."

"It makes a big difference when you emphasize trading rights to goods, rather than goods."

"If you've got private property rights, you don’t have to talk about free speech."

"You've got to use economics. You don’t just repeat the words; you've got to apply it."

"If you can't say it, you don’t know it."

"If they learn to learn how to learn economics, they'll do the rest themselves."

"Fundamentally, economics talks about groups."

"A property right is a human right."

"Property rights are what the rest of society will enforce for me."

Childhood, Family and Education

• How did the Great Depression influence Alchian's views and career trajectory?

• What does Alchian regard as his most important work and why? What should a scholar focus on in your opinion, writing for students, the general public, or the profession? Why?

Uncertainty, Evolution, and Economic Theory

• According to Alchian, do businessmen really maximize profits? Explain.

• In his research, what did Alchian discover about the way airplane engineers measured the costs of production versus the way economists measure the costs of production? What makes this difference so important?

Property Rights

• How does Alchian distinguish between public and private property? Is his distinction specific enough? Why?

• What does Alchian mean when he says, "If you've got property rights, you don’t have to talk about free speech."? What constitutes free speech, according to Alchian?


• Why does Alchian suggest it is important to distinguish between anticipated and unanticipated inflation?

• Alchian argues that inflation can serve to transfer wealth between classes. How can this happen, and what effects can this have?

• Alchian says you can learn different things from "stories" versus data. What does he mean by this, and how does it help to explain why shopping during times of inflation can be like a part-time job?

Information Costs and the Firm

• What are search costs, and how can they explain unemployment, according to Alchian?

• What does Alchian mean when he asserts that a firm is an attempt to subvert the market? What aspect of Coase's work on the theory of the firm does Alchian believe is wrong, and why?

University Economics

• Alchian says he'd like to change the title of his co-authored textbook to Universal Economics. Why does he think this would be a good title change, and to what extent would you agree?

• Alchian notes the trade-off of time spent on his textbook. Did he make the right decision, in your opinion? Why?

Economics, Individuals, and Clans

• What might a greater attention to human gene structure contribute to economics, according to Alchian? To what extent have you seen this trend in recent scholarship, and to what extent does it confirm Alchian's suppositions?

• What does Alchian mean when he says economics is fundamentally about groups? How does the individual factor into his view of economics?

• Benjamin asks Alchian whether markets enhance freedom. How does Alchian reply? Describe how satisfactory you find his answer.

• Alchian is known as the founder of the "event study." What does this mean, and how are such studies used today?

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