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Nobel Laureate: 'I've Been Wrong So Often, I Don't Find It Extraordinary At All'

"I'm 101 at the moment," Ronald Coase said.
University of Chicago
"I'm 101 at the moment," Ronald Coase said.

I recently had a brief conversation with Ronald Coase.

"I'm 101 at the moment," he told me. "I get older by the minute."

Coase is a legend in economics. He won the Nobel prize. He has a theorem named after him. But China's rapid emergence as a global economic power — one of the most important developments of the past generation — took him completely by surprise.

"I thought it would take 100 years, if not more," Coase said.

It seemed striking that an economic legend could be so wrong about such an important subject. I asked Coase what he made of this.

"I've been wrong so often I don't find it extraordinary at all," he said.

Coase just co-wrote a new book. It's called "How China Became Capitalist."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

David Kestenbaum is a correspondent for NPR, covering science, energy issues and, most recently, the global economy for NPR's multimedia project Planet Money. David has been a science correspondent for NPR since 1999. He came to journalism the usual way — by getting a Ph.D. in physics first.