An economist who understood price controls at a very personal level.

Earlier this month, I learned that financial economist Dave Mayers died. Here’s his obit at the American Finance Association. He was a colleague of mine during my first academic year at the University of Rochester’s Graduate School of Management (now the Simon School.) He had the office across the hall from mine. At the time we were both single and so when I was in on a Saturday or Sunday and he was in too, I would take breaks from working on my Ph.D. dissertation to chat with him about various events.

The author of the obit writes:

In his research, Dave will be remembered for introducing non-marketable assets (such as human capital) in the CAPM, for some of the earliest research on block trades,  and for a considerable body of work on the insurance industry.

But I’ll remember him most for a humorous remark he made. To get it, you have to remember how opposed economists generally are to price controls, especially maximum price controls and more especially to price controls that limit the price to zero.

We had both heard on the news that a federal law had been passed banning pay toilets. We were both incensed at this extreme price control, but Dave put it best:

This is an attack on the bowels of America.

I still grin when I picture him saying that.