Posts Tagged ‘profile’

Nick Rowe, exemplary professor of economics

Tuesday, December 25th, 2018

Carleton University professor Nick Rowe received a well-deserved tribute, on his retirement from teaching, in The Economist magazine. I was fortunate to have known him as a colleague, but regret that I never had the opportunity to enroll in one of his macroeconomics courses. Sadly for me, he completed his PhD in 1985, long after I did. Current and future generations of economists will also miss the opportunity of learning from him. But all of us can continue to benefit from reading his many posts online at Worthwhile Canadian Initiative (WCI).

Professors may find themselves ill-prepared for the macro classroom. To become academics they had to answer erudite questions posed by more senior members of the discipline. To become good teachers of introductory macro, they have to give clear answers to muddled students. That requires an intuitive feel for the subject. It is not enough to crank through the equations.

Indeed, Mr Rowe attributes part of his success as a teacher to his shortcomings as a mathematician. He quotes Joan Robinson, another clear expositor of macroeconomics:

Albert Hirschman and Cardiff Garcia

Monday, December 4th, 2017

Cardiff Garcia (born 1979 to Cuban-American parents) is a great fan of German-American political economist Albert Hirschman (1915-2012). I am also a fan of Hirschman, which is why I urge you to listen to a series of three interviews of the biographer of Hirschman that Cardiff posted before moving from FT’s Alphachat to NPR’s Planet Money podcast. It is possible to download these podcasts without cost, directly from the links below, from iTunes, or from wherever you get your podcasts. Enjoy! (more…)

who are the best teachers?

Sunday, July 16th, 2017

Most certainly, not geniuses in their field. Harvard economist Larry Summers, for example, tells this story about his Nobel laureate uncle, Kenneth Arrow (1921-2017).

Kenneth had a real problem as a teacher, which is that he didn

remembering economist William Baumol

Monday, May 22nd, 2017

British economist Diane Coyle (born 1961) praises the work of William Baumol, who passed away on the 4th of May, aged 95, and laments that they no longer make economists like him. (more…)

Kenneth Arrow: a gentle genius

Sunday, February 26th, 2017

Kenneth Arrow, one of the greatest economists of the past century, died last week. His nephew, Larry Summers, wrote a eulogy that was published in the Wall Street Journal. Here is an excerpt from it, followed by an ungated link to the full eulogy. (more…)

Ed Thorp at lunch with the FT

Saturday, February 4th, 2017

This is a superb “Lunch with the FT”. John Authers, FT Senior Investment Commentator, interviews Ed Thorp, the famous mathematician, hedge fund manager and blackjack player. Here are excerpts from an exceptionally long, informative and entertaining column. Click on the link below to read the full column (highly recommended). (more…)

Thomas Schelling, 1921-2016

Monday, December 19th, 2016

The American economist Thomas Schelling, who died last week, was a great man and a great economist. He will be remembered for many contributions, but for me his most important was help in prevention of nuclear war between the USA and the USSR.

Though not a pacifist, Schelling was a peacemaker. Tim Harford, ‘undercover economist’ for the Financial Times, highlights this aspect of his life in an obituary he wrote for last weekend’s newspaper.

Schelling used academia as a vantage point from which to advise the administrations of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. He was at Harvard University for 31 years, and said of one role there that it had given him a decade of

Hayek’s political philosophy

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

Here my second (and final) blog on Nicholas Wapshott’s short book Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics (Norton, 2011). Despite the title, it is more a book of history, biography and politics than it is of economics.

The last chapter, for me, was the most rewarding. Here are extracts, from pp. 290-291, that concisely describe the political philosophy of Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek (1899-1992). (more…)

Friedrich Hayek and John Maynard Keynes

Saturday, December 17th, 2016

I just finished reading Nicholas Wapshott’s Keynes Hayek: The Clash that Defined Modern Economics (Norton, 2011). Herbert Gintis and Greg Ransom, two American economists whom I admire, wrote scathing reviews of the book at In contrast, I enjoyed the book, especially the parts dealing with the life and personality of Hayek. The book is an easy, quick read (Gintis wrote that it is akin to reading an article in People magazine!), but that is all the more reason to read it. Don’t purchase it for reference, however. Borrow a copy from a public library.

Nicholas Wapshott (born 1952) is a British journalist and writer who has a degree in politics from the University of York. Cardiff Garcia recently interviewed him for an Alphaville podcast.

What to me was most valuable is the attention that Wapshott pays to differences in the personalities of Hayek and Keynes. The differences are, indeed, quite striking. Here are a few passages from the book that caught my attention. I am more familiar with Keynes than with Hayek so, for this reason, ignore Wapshott’s many comments on the personality of Keynes. (more…)

Michael Lewis on Donald Trump

Friday, December 9th, 2016

Financial journalist Michael Lewis (born 1960) is author of numerous bestselling books, including Liar’s Poker (1989) and The Big Short (2010).

Just before Donald Trump’s electoral victory, Lewis was adding finishing touches to his latest book, The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds (Norton, 2016). The 368-page volume is an homage to contributions to behavioural economics of two Isreli psychologists: Danny Kahneman (born 1934) and the late Amos Tversky (1937-1996).

Gary Silverman, the FT