Tom Easton of the Economist and Virginia Postrel of Bloomberg split the $50,000 award for the Bastiat Prize for Journalism, which was awarded Wednesday night at a dinner in New York.
Mr. Easton won in part for an Economist piece headlined Bamboo Capitalism. It concluded, "Too many people—not just third-world dictators but Western business tycoons—have fallen for the Beijing consensus, the idea that state-directed capitalism and tight political control are the elixir of growth. In fact China has surged forward mainly where the state has stood back. 'Capitalism with Chinese characteristics' works because of the capitalism, not the characteristics."
Ms. Postrel won in part for a piece on government laws banning old-fashioned light bulbs, which she described as "crony capitalism with a touch of green." When the column originally ran, it was praised on this site as "a really excellent column all the way through."
Damon Root, an editor at Reason magazine, won the $10,000 Hoiles Prize, in part for a piece on the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn headlined The Great Basketball Swindle.
Amity Shlaes, the chairman of the International Policy Network, which awards the prizes, began the awards dinner by noting that Frederic Bastiat (1801-1850) did not hide his religiosity. He understood, Miss Shlaes said, that it was "God's authority against which the state was pushing."
The president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, Richard Fisher, was the keynote speaker. Miss Shlaes noted in introducing him that Mr. Fisher's father had been found on a doorstep at age 6 in Queensland, Australia and was charged with being a neglected child. He moved to South Africa, and then finally to America, where his four sons all graduated from Harvard, leading the family to joke that "in one generation we have gone from no education to too much."
In his speech, Mr Fisher warned against governments "monetizing their debts," leading to "the most ruinous of scenarios, the onset of hyperinflation." He also said, "the central bank must never become an accomplice to a feckless government," and he warned that with a fiat currency, "that fragile faith, once violated, can never be restored."
An economics professor at George Mason University, Russell Roberts, who is also a fellow at the Hoover Institution, Russell Roberts, also spoke, quoting UCLA economist Edward Leamer who said, "we are pattern-seeking, story-telling animals." He noted that in 1945, Keynesian economists predicted a collapse after a 60% decline in government spending as World War II ended. In fact, there was a boom.
The awards dinner was at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan.