The Economist has a report on doing business in America, “Red Tape and Scissors,” citing to the Gridlock Economy.

In the book, I talk primarily about how gridlock inadvertently blocks innovation and growth.  Sometimes, however, people deliberately create gridlock to achieve other social ends, such as environmental conservation.  Here’s an example send to me by two alert readers, Jim Wuorio and William Murphy.  (Thanks for the tips and keep them coming!)  According to the Times of London story:

Greenpeace has bought a field the size of a football pitch and plans to invite protesters to dig networks of tunnels across it, similar to those built in the ultimately unsuccessful campaign against the Newbury bypass in 1996. The group also plans to divide the field into thousands of tiny plots, each with a separate owner.   BAA, the airport’s owner, would be forced to negotiate with each owner, lengthening the compulsory purchase process.

And describes how the “AirPlot” works:

The gist is this: amazingly, and the Heathrow planners must be wondering how this slipped by unnoticed, Greenpeace have been able to buy up a small piece of land, about half the size of a football pitch, in the middle of the proposed third runway site. They are now appealing to the general public to add their names to the ‘Legal Deed of Trust’ as ‘beneficial owners’. All you have to do is go to the Greenpeace website and sign up.

Kudos to the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences for its great-looking new online newsletter.  Their first issue spotlights “The Gridlock Economy.”  For the story, click here.   I love CASBS — I conceived of, and started writing, The Gridlock Economy while a fellow at the Center in 2004-05.  I can’t imagine a better experience for a scholar than to spend a year at CASBS.

Thanks to Michael Morris for spotting this great example of a gridlock solution in a post at Gizmodo:

Panasonic, Sony and Philips are spinning off Blu-ray licensing into a single company, which for us, the real people, means we should be seeing Blu-ray prices take another tumble downward.  That’s because the costs of licenses for people to make Blu-ray stuff will drop as much as 40 percent, since manufacturers won’t have to talk to all three companies to get the rights.

Best Gridlock Cartoon yet

February 24, 2009

Here’s the best gridlock cartoon yet, from the New Yorker.  (Thanks to John Schmitt for the tip.)


The editors over at the wonderful blog, Freakonomics, picked the cover of “The Gridlock Economy” as one of the most evocative of 2008.   Here’s their post.

Former President Bill Clinton recommends “The Gridlock Economy” as one of the key books to read to understand the current economic crisis.  His endorsement appears at DailyBeast.

Great news.  BusinessWeek named The Gridlock Economy as one of the top 10 business books for 2008 — putting the book in some mighty fine company!  Here’s the story in BusinessWeek.  They say:

“The Columbia University law professor explores how fragmented property ownership—whether in land, intellectual property, or the broadcast spectrum—too often allows people to block each other from optimizing a scarce resource.   Heller’s analysis covers a range of topics, from wireless policy to the control of urban sprawl.”

A reader tips me off to a great development:  The new CEO of the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline is pledging (among other things) to “put any chemicals or processes over which it has intellectual property rights that are relevant to finding drugs for neglected diseases into a ‘patent pool,’ so they can be explored by other researchers.”   This is a radical shift for a Big Pharma company.  Will others follow?  The full story is available in the Guardian.

It’s been a while!

February 24, 2009

Lots of news on the gridlock front.  It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Time to catch up.