The George J. Stigler Center hosts conferences where members of the business, academic, and public policy communities gather to exchange views on and debate ideas about the center’s research agenda. The center also seeks to raise awareness of important economic and policy issues at events open to students at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and other members of the public.

Upcoming Events



 October 7, 2015

How Politics Impacts Financial Markets
A talk by Professor Randall Morck

The George Stigler Center at Chicago Booth presents the first in a new series of talks aimed at MBA students and the entire University of Chicago community. Professor Randall Morck of the Alberta School of Business will talk about his research on the influence of politics on financial markets.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
6:00 p.m. with refreshments to follow

Harper Center Room C25
5807 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

Free and open to the public

Register »

November 11, 2015

Thin Political Markets
A talk by Professor Karthik Ramanna

“Thin political markets” are the processes through which some of the most complex and critical institutions of our capitalist system are determined—e.g., our accounting-standards infrastructure; rules for bank-capital adequacy; actuarial standards; and auditing practice. In thin political markets, corporate special interests are largely unopposed because of their own expertise and the general public’s low awareness of the issues. This enables special interests to structure the “rules of the game” in self-serving ways. On one level, this behavior embodies the capitalist spirit articulated by Milton Friedman: “The social responsibility of business is to increase its profits.” But the ethics of profit-seeking behavior are premised on the logic of competition and, as this session will demonstrate, this logic breaks down in thin political markets. The result is a structural flaw in the determination of critical institutions of the capitalist system, which, if ignored, can undermine the legitimacy of the system. Professor Ramanna will close with some ideas on how to fix the problem.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015
6:00 p.m. with refreshments to follow

Harper Center Room 104
5807 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

Free and open to the public

Register »

November 20-21

Friedman Meets Stigler: Crisis in the Economic Theory of the Firm

Milton Friedman famously wrote that the only social responsibility of business is to increase its profits. Friedman's result is based, among others, on the assumption that the rules of the game are fixed: firms, in their profit maximizing behavior, cannot modify the rules to their own advantage. Ironically, the year after Friedman published “The social responsibility of business,” George Stigler, Friedman’s colleague at the University of Chicago, published “The Theory of Economic Regulation,” perhaps the most influential piece ever written on the problem of regulatory capture. A central thesis of this paper is that, as a rule, regulation is "acquired by the industry and is designed and operated primarily for its benefit.” Hence, firms are not players in a game whose rules are exogenously set (as in Friedman’s view), but players that successfully lobby to modify the rules of the game to their advantage. From a normative point of view, in this world what should a firm maximize? Is Friedman's rule still valid, or should it be modified? If so, how? This is the topic we want to discuss in this meeting.

Harvard University

Past Events

Date Event

April 10, 2015

Date: April 10, 2015
Location: University of Chicago

  • Robert Brennan, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, The New Republic

  • Michael Quigley, Member, U.S. House of Representatives (D-IL 5th)

Gina McCarthy, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency interviewed by Jeffrey Ball, Scholar-in-Residence, Stanford University's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, and Contributor, The New Republic

  • Emma Berndt, Executive Director, Urban Energy and Sustainability Lab, University of Chicago

  • Katherine Gajewski, Chief Sustainability Officer, City of Philadelphia

  • Amy Francetic, Chief Executive Officer, Clean Energy Trust

  • Gabriel Pacyniak, Climate Change Mitigation Program Manger, Georgetown Climate Center

  • Moderator: Jeffrey Ball, Scholar-in-Residence, Stanford University's Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance, and Contributor, The New Republic

  • Doug Scott, Former ICC Chair and IEPA Head, Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, Great Plains Institute

  • Michael Polsky, President and CEO, Invenergy

  • Moderator: Michael Greenstone, Director, Energy Policy Institute at Chicago


November 13, 2014

The Ninth B. Peter Pashigian Memorial Lecture

Harper Center, Classroom 06

3:30 p.m.

Featuring Professor Kevin Murphy

Competition, Negotiated Discounts and Contracts that Reference Rivals

Introductory Remarks: Robert Topel

Watch the lecture »

October 15, 2014

A Conversation with Peter Thiel, Cofounder of PayPal

Harper Center, Room 104

5 - 6:30 p.m.

Peter shares highlights from his new book, Zero to One

Co-sponsored with the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation

View live event coverage »

May 15, 2014

30 Years After the Failure of Continental Illinois Bank: Have We Solved Too Big to Fail?

May 15, 2014

Gleacher Center, Room 204

450 North Cityfront Plaza, Chicago, Illinois

A conference organized by the Stigler Center with financial support from The Clearing House.

The one day conference analyzed the impact of the Continental Illinois Bank’s failure and bail-out in 1984 on the development of “too big to fail” in the US and the subsequent regulatory, supervisory, and market changes that have affected expectations about perceptions of government support.

Background: On May 17, 1984, regulators took over the failing Continental Illinois Bank, one of the ten largest banks in the US at the time. The government provided complete protection to all depositors and liability holders against loss. When questioned about the intervention in a congressional hearing the following September, the comptroller of the currency said that roughly the largest 11 banks in the US would receive the same treatment if they were in trouble. This became the modern origin of “too big to fail” in the US. Concerned about the moral hazard problems and unequal treatment, Congress and regulators worked to change the perceptions of government support through various regulatory actions and the passage of FDIC Improvement Act of 1991. The 2010 Dodd-Frank Act contains a number of provisions aimed at mitigating “too big to fail” and debate continues about their implementation and effectiveness. The conference speakers will contribute to this important policy debate.

Panel One

Panel Two

Panel Three

View the agenda for more information.

May 9, 2013

Energy Policy Workshop with Epic, Chicago Booth

Booth School of Business, Room C02

Noon - 1:15 p.m.

April 25, 2013

Spring Energy Forum: Meghan Busse, Northwestern University: "Did Cash for Clunkers Deliver?"

Booth School of Business, Room C02

Noon - 1:15 p.m.

Dr. Meghan Busse at Northwestern University focuses her research on market structure and competition, with particular interest in pricing and price discrimination. Her areas of current interest are energy economics and the U.S. automobile industry; her study of the auto industry is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation.

She will speak on the question "Did Cash for Clunkers Deliver? The Consumer Effects of the Car Allowance Rebate System."

April 12, 2013

The Ronald Coase Institute & The Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State (PDF)

Roundtable Discussion:

The Role that Scholarly Ideas Have Played in Influencing Policy

December 6, 2012

The Energy Policy Series: Session Four

Erin Mansur, Datmouth College

Vertical Commitments and the Price Effects of Mergers: Evidence from Electricity Markets

Harper Center, Room C02

Noon - 1:15 p.m.

November 8, 2012

The Energy Policy Series: Session Three

Cynthia Wu, Chicago Booth

Risk Premia on Crude Oil Futures Prices

Harper Center, Room C02

Noon - 1:15 p.m.

October 29, 2012

The Eighth B. Peter Pashigian Memorial Lecture

Harper Center, Room 104

3:30 p.m.

Featuring Professors Jesse Shapiro and Matt Gentzkow

The Media and the State: Historical Evidence from U.S. Newspapers

Introductory Remarks: Robert Topel