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



December 2, 2015

Why Banks Still "Own the Place"
with Professor Anat Admati (Stanford GSB)

Despite an enormously harmful financial crisis and despite rhetoric from politicians and regulators about the need to control Wall Street, the banking industry is still dangerous and distorted. What is wrong with banking and why is the industry so successful in virtually maintaining a bad status quo? This talk will describe the forces that explain why and how the banking industry maintains its economic and political power in the US and elsewhere. Professor Admati will discuss the basic economics of banking, trends in recent decades, and the unique governance issues that pervade the institutions within and around banking. Among the reasons for the success of the industry is the pervasive myth that banks are “special,” and the spin and narratives that maintain this myth and which have been used to justify the excessive privileges banks enjoy. Professor Admati will assess the state of financial regulations, calls for “breaking up the banks,” risk tax, and other approaches.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
5:00pm reception
5:30pm lecture

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

Free and open to the public

Register here

December 3, 2015

Lunch Lecture: What’s Wrong with Banking and Why it Matters
with Professor Anat Admati (Stanford GSB)

A lunch lecture with Professor Anat Admati to discuss her research on banking and regulation.

Thursday, December 3, 2015
Harper Center Room C09

An Internal event for the University of Chicago community

Past Events

Date Event
November 20-21, 2015

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.

Co-organized with Harvard Business School

Friday, November 20 – Saturday, November 21

Harvard Business School
Baker Library, Bloomberg Center 102
3 Soldiers Field Road
Allston, MA 02134

By invitation only

See schedule for more details.

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
5:00pm reception
5:30pm lecture

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

Free and open to the public

Register here

October 12, 2015

LATAM event: Fireside Chat with Mauro Cunha

A fireside chat with Mauro Cunha (CEO, AMEC) on the topic of "Asset Management and Corporate Governance in Brazil: landscape, opportunities and challenges. Mediated by Professor Luigi Zingales.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Gleacher Center, Room 100

Exclusively for LABG members

October 12, 2015

Lunch lecture: The Great Pyramids of America

A lunch lecture with Professor Randall Morck to discuss his research on pyramidal business groups in the United States.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Harper Center, Room C05
5807 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

Internal event for the University of Chicago community

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
6:00pm with refreshments to follow

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

Free and open to the public

October 6, 2015

Lunch Lecture: Shareholder Rights and Regulatory Framework in Brazil: Lessons from the frontline

A lunch lecture with Mauro Cunha (CEO, AMEC) on corporate governance and financial markets in Brazil.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Harper Center, Room C10
5807 S Woodlawn Ave
Chicago, IL 60637

Internal event for the University of Chicago community

April 10, 2015

The Next Frontier of Climate Change: State and Local Action in Chicago

Date: April 10, 2015
Location: University of Chicago

Welcome and Introductory Remarks Watch On-Demand

  • Robert Brennan, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, The New Republic
  • Michael Quigley, Member, U.S. House of Representatives (D-IL 5th)

Headline Interview: EPA's Gina McCarthy Watch On-Demand

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

City Approaches to Confronting Climate Change Watch On-Demand

  • 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

State Efforts to Implement Climate Legislation Watch On-Demand

  • 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

To view the lecture, click here.

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

Cosponsered with the Polsky Center

To see live coverage, click here.

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 of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business with financial support from The Clearing House.

One day conference to analyze 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

See 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."

Lunch will be served.

Cost: Free

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