Armen Alchian. Gordon Tullock. William Baumol. Now Harold Demsetz. The list of economists who should have won the Nobel Prize but didn't added another name with the passing of Harold Demsetz (b. 1930) on January 4. In 2013, he was named a Distinguished Fellow of the American Economic Association and was described as "one of the most creative and deep microeconomists of the 20th century."
. . . I must say here that he was one of the greatest economic thinkers in history. Demsetz thought deeply and creatively and philosophically about issues. A master of microeconomic theory, Demsetz was unsurpassed – and rarely matched – in exercising the wisdom necessary to understand how to apply that theory and what conclusions to draw from it.
And Nat Snow has a short, sweet anecdote.
For my part, I think his 1973 paper that in a single, elegant stroke blew up the profits-concentration theory--a theory supported at the time by more than 100 papers and that was touted as one of the most widely confirmed propositions in not just industrial organization but in all of economics--is one of the very best examples economics has of consequential empirical work.