Bravo to the Econ Nobel Committee
And to Oliver Williamson and Elinor Ostrom for their well-deserved Nobel Prize in economics. Here's a Times column I wrote about the New Institutional Economics, in which they are major figures. Their work is extremely fundamental. (I discuss some of Ostrom's work on fisheries in The Future and Its Enemies.)
The Economic Institutions of Capitalism is Williamson's classic work. (Be forewarned that he is famous for his peculiar jargon. See Stephen Bainbridge's Amazon review.) Governing the Commons: The Evolution of Institutions for Collective Action is Ostrom's basic work.
Here's a Reason editorial I wrote in 1997 that hints at why honoring Williamson and Ostrom is coincidentally quite a negative comment on the current rage for technocratic planning: "Conventional political discourse continues to define government as the manipulative determiner of national purpose, but the twin challenges of Third World development and postcommunist transition have revived the fundamental insight of classical liberalism--the idea that government best serves its citizens by limiting itself to enforcing neutral rules."