A Biographical Dictionary of Australian and New Zealand Economists
Edward Elgar, $85 hb, 360 pp, 9781845428693
In all intellectual disciplines there is a tendency to run in herds. It is the line of least resistance; it offers personal and professional rewards; and sometimes the herd, if capably led, is impressive in the way it rushes so quickly in the appropriate direction. The herd is often correct; but when it is on a stampede, is does not easily change course. This is a biographical dictionary of those Australian and New Zealand economists who often led – or opposed – the herd.
Those who are deaf to the roar of the herd sometimes turn out to be the leader of a new herd. We hear Colin Clark, one of the great economists in his field, saying that he had ‘an instinct to disagree with the powerful’. We read of A.G.B. Fisher, a very young professor at Dunedin before climbing the international ladder: ‘he was very much his own man.’ On the other side of economics was another Fisher, also a New Zealander by birth, who in England in the 1970s deplored the veneration for certain Keynesian policies by ninety-five per cent of the economics profession. Malcolm Fisher prepared the way for Mrs Thatcher’s economics; he was also founder of an economic institute in Kazakhstan in the dismantled Soviet Union.