中國走上資本主義 邊際革命之路 – Video interview Ning Wang – How China Became Capitalist, co-author with Ronald Coase Nobel Laureate in Economics

March 29, 2012

Kempton interview Ning Wang (co-author with Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics)) re their new book How China Became Capitalist

諾貝爾經濟學獎得主高斯(Ronald Coase, 科斯)今年101歲,他與亞利桑那州立大學(Arizona State University)的Ning Wang合作出版一本花了四年時間研究和撰寫的新書(How China Became Capitalist)(我臨時中譯成為《中國微革 走上資本主義之路》)。我很高興有機會訪問Ning。這裡是我跟Ning的英文訪問。(see note 1 re book’s temp Chinese title)

I had a great interview with Ning Wang (co-author with Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics)) to talk about their new book How China Became Capitalist. (Sample Chapter: You can download a free sample book chapter from Palgrave.)

I appreciate very much professor Wang spending over an hour sharing his insight with me about How China Became Capitalist and answering questions I have related to the Chinese economy. The following are edited clips of the video interview. By the way, feel free to share your comments and questions. When I finish reading the book, I plan to arrange another interview with Ning to talk more. And I may be able to incorporate some of the comments/questions into my next interview.

I have edited the interview into 3 clips with a list of questions/themes. Enjoy.

*** Main interview (see below for list of questions/themes)

Main interview (list of questions/themes)

Q1) Can you talk about the Shenzhen stock exchange in mid-90s where it had 300 offices for people to buy or sell stocks when the stock exchange actually had NO official permission to allow for these trades?!

Q2) China is now the world largest producer of Ph.Ds. Yet Qian Xuesen (錢學森), a most respected Chinese scientist asked a sobering question before his death in 2009 and the question is known as the “Qian Puzzle”.

“Why have Chinese universities not produced a single world-class original thinker or innovative scientist since 1949 ?”

Q3) Quoting the book,

“After more than three decades, the Chinese legal system is still far away from where it can “guarantee the equality of all people before the people’s laws and deny anyone the privilege of being above the law.”” 

This is a tough assessment which I agree with very much. Can you share your thoughts?

Q4) So far I’ve only read parts of the book but I feel more pessimistic of the possibility in seeing China makeing positive changes. I’m feeling more constrained by the history I now know. Can you share your thoughts?

Q5) I love this quote in the book,

“Capitalism with Chinese characteristics is very much like traffic in Chinese cities, chaotic and intimidating for many western tourists. Yet Chinese roads deliver more goods and transport more passengers than those in any other country.

Can you share your thoughts?

*** More in-depth questions

List of more in-depth questions/themes

Q1) China’s “Rule by Law” as opposite to the western practice of “Rule of Law“, that one word (“by” vs “of”) makes the difference of night and day! Can you share your thoughts? (see note 2)

Q2) “Do you see institutional arrangement as something culturally oriented or is base upon universally applicable principles? i.e. if every country is of certain uniqueness or that there exists a ‘one size fits all’ economic system?” [Thanks goes to my economist friend Wallace for this question.]

Q3) What is your and prof. Coase’s main discovery or new understanding gained from the years of research compare to the original understanding in 2008 when you started the research?

Q4) Can you talk about research topics that you and prof. Coase like to see more of? Any interesting puzzles worth further research?

*** Background questions about the book

List of background questions/themes about the book

Q1) Can you talk about the process of writing the book with professor Coase? I understand there was the 2008 Chicago Conference on China’s Market Transformation and then the 2010 Chicago Workshop on the Industrial Structure of Production.

Q2) I understand the book title has a history and may be traced back to 1982! Can you talk about it?

Q3) Given Ning’s Ph.D. wasn’t in Economics, how did he get to write this economics book and meet professor Coase?

How China Became Capitalist by Ronald Coase (Nobel Laureate in Economics) & Ning Wang - published Mar 23, 2012


1) The book “How China Became Capitalist” currently does NOT have an official Chinese title. I originally translated “How China Became Capitalist” in a straight forward manner as “中國怎樣變成資本主義國家”. And then I found someone else translated it as “中國如何走向資本主義” which seems ok too. But I just realized that a good name can only come after reading the whole book which I haven’t done yet. I thought of using “中國微革 走上資本主義之路” You see, Marginal Revolution is an important concept in the book but its straight forward translation “邊際革命”  doesn’t quite work for me. I like “微革” for Marginal Revolution but I am also coining a new term here. So I am not happy but settling for “中國走上資本主義 邊際革命之路” for now. If “資本主義” is too sensitive to be used, I am ok with “中國邊際革命之路” or “中國微革之路”.

2) During the writing of this post, I found a link to a book chapter “The Institutional Diffusion of Courts in China: Evidence from Survey Data” (pdf) by Pierre F. Landry, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale University. This book chapter is one of the chapters in the book “Rule By Law: The Politics of Courts in Authoritarian Regimes“. While I haven’t read it, it may be something that is worth reading further.



December 29, 2010

I would like to wish Prof. Ronald Coase good health and all the best on his 100th Birthday (Dec 29th, 2010) and his new book to be published in 2011 (see attached Economist article)! “… Mr Coase will publish a new book in 2011, withNing Wang of Arizona State University, on “How China Became Capitalist”

By the way, I have watched the following lecture videos by Prof. Coase probably over 5-10 times already and I am still learning something new every time. Enjoy. Note: More info after the videos.

Also check out the following,

– (video) Ronald Coase: “Markets, Firms and Property Rights”

Audio (downloadable) Ronald H. Coase: The 17th Annual Coase Lecture

– Ronald Coase Discusses Global Warming Regulation – Of Individual Liberty and Cap and Trade

– For the record, from Economist,

Why do firms exist? – Ronald Coase, the author of “The Nature of the Firm” (1937), turns 100 on December 29th
Schumpeter Dec 16th 2010 | from PRINT EDITION

FOR philosophers the great existential question is: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” For management theorists the more mundane equivalent is: “Why do firms exist? Why isn’t everything done by the market?”

Today most people live in a market economy, and central planning is remembered as the greatest economic disaster of the 20th century. Yet most people also spend their working lives in centrally planned bureaucracies called firms. They stick with the same employer for years, rather than regularly returning to the jobs market. They labour to fulfil the “strategic plans” of their corporate commissars. John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company made him the richest man in America in the 1840s. But it never consisted of more than a handful of people. Today Astor’s company would not register as a blip on the corporate horizon. Firms routinely employ thousands of workers and move billions of dollars-worth of goods and services within their borders.

Why have these “islands of conscious power” survived in the surrounding “ocean of unconscious co-operation”, to borrow a phrase from D.H. Robertson, an economist? Classical economics had little to say about this question. Adam Smith opened “The Wealth of Nations” with a wonderful description of the division of labour in a pin factory, but he said nothing about the bosses who hired the pin-makers or the managers who organised them. Smith’s successors said even less, either ignoring the pin factory entirely or treating it as a tedious black box. They preferred to focus on the sea rather than the islands.

Who knows the secret of the black box?

The man who restored the pin factory to its rightful place at the heart of economic theory celebrates his 100th birthday on December 29th. The economics profession was slow to recognise Ronald Coase’s genius. He first expounded his thinking about the firm in a lecture in Dundee in 1932, when he was just 21 years old. Nobody much listened. He published “The Nature of the Firm” five years later. It went largely unread. Read the rest of this entry »

2009高斯會議 – 第二天的相片 (高斯有出席)

December 6, 2009


Ronald Coase (L), Gary Becker (R), @ 2009 Coase Conference (Day 2), University of Chicago School of Law

2009 Coase Conference (Day 2), University of Chicago School of Law

2009 Coase Conference (Day 2), University of Chicago School of Law

2009 Coase Conference (Day 2), University of Chicago School of Law

Gary Becker (L), Richard A. Posner (C) @ 2009 Coase Conference (Day 2), University of Chicago School of Law

Photo credits: Thanks to Zhaofeng Xue (薛兆丰).

Dec 15 update: More beautiful photos from the official conference photographer here. I especially love this one. Coase inspiring the young.

_DSC7000 by uchicagolaw.

2009高斯會議 – 第一天匯報節錄和相片

December 5, 2009




最後還有一段,科斯特意回應波斯納[Richard Posner]文章[“Keynes and Coase”],把他和凱恩斯相提並論的文章。他說他跟凱恩斯沒有任何關系,只有一次,那是戰爭剛結束,當時年輕的科斯和凱恩斯的助手交談,凱恩斯進來了,助手就對凱恩斯說“這是科斯先生,幫我們搞統計的,我想你不認識他。”凱恩斯跟科斯握手說“我想我不認識你。戰爭真是殘酷啊。”大家哄堂大笑。


University of Chicago School of Law2009 Coase Conference registration @ University of Chicago School of Law

Ronald Coase @ 2009 Coase Conference, University of Chicago School of LawThomas Hazlett (L), David Porter and Vernon Smith @ 2009 Coase Conference, University of Chicago School of Law

Doug North @ 2009 Coase Conference, University of Chicago School of Law

再次多謝兆丰的幫助,讓我可以感受一吓2009高斯會議。另外我很高興聽到兆丰開完高斯會議之後,會找時間在網上與大家分享一些他的見聞和所得。Stay tune.

Dec 15 update: More wonderful photos from the official conference photographer.

_DSC0772 by uchicagolaw.