I remember the first time I saw Luigi Zingales speak. It was early 2009, at what Arnold called an “Anti-Stimulus Conference.” Arnold himself gave an excellent talk, my colleague Don Boudreaux did as well. Time exceptionally well spent.
But the big surprise of the day was Zingales–in the style of academics, it seems most natural to refer to him by last name. He had been writing on the problem of crony capitalism for years: his 2003 book with Raghuram Rajan
, Saving Capitalism from the Capitalists
, was prescient, and I’d read and recommended and cited his popular pieces calling for capitalism to remain a system of profit and loss
But really, public speaking, especially to DC audiences, is quite a different thing altogether. I just wondered how he’d do.
He didn’t disappoint. He gave a stirring, no-holds-barred defense of a capitalism that put cronyism in its place, a defense based on sound research that brought together political economy and corporate finance. For most of us there, it was the first time we’d seen him speak in person. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one hoping he would stay in the public debate, and I’m glad our hopes were realized.
Of course you’ll enjoy his blogging—but even more, I hope you’ll take some time to dig into his ideas. His September 2008 column “Why Paulson is Wrong
” let me know I wasn’t crazy to be pushing for what I call speed bankruptcy–rapid conversions of bonds into shares as an alternative to bailouts. With his longtime coauthor Paola Sapienza he provided survey evidence that since 2008 we’ve experienced a “Crisis of Trust
.” And he has a line of work arguing for a strong role of culture on economic outcomes; he coauthored a non-technical piece on the topic for the Journal of Economic Perspectives here
His work on corporate finance deserves its own set of discussions–it’s where I first saw his name on a syllabus–but I’ll just offer this link
as an example of his creative work on the topic.
EconLog is fortunate to have its newest contributor.
Commenter Krishnan offers this link
to a June EconTalk with Zingales.