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William N. Niskanen: Economist, Scholar, and Foe of Political Capitalism

By Robert Bradley Jr. -- November 4, 2011

The longtime chairman of the Cato Institute, William N. Niskanen, passed away last week at age 78. We shared the podium a few times on energy issues, and I admired his Enron project at Cato that resulted in two books, Corporate Aftershock: Lessons from the Collapse of Enron and Other Major Corporations (2003) and After Enron: Lessons for Public Policy (2005).

Like virtually everyone else who knew him, I remember Bill as a scholar and gentleman. He had one tone of voice and reliably imparted insightful logic. He was what I like to call a scholar’s scholar, role model for the rest of us.


William Arthur Niskanen Jr. (1933–2011), born in Bend, Oregon, graduated from Harvard University with a degree in economics in 1954. He earned his economics doctorate in 1962 from the University of Chicago.…