Response by Recipient Of 2009 Economist Of the Year Award

3 September, 2009 at the NZIER AGM


Keywords: Miscellaneous;

I am deeply touched and honoured to be awarded this generous prize, and embarrassed by the even greater generosity of the accompanying citation.

Normally it would be a time to mention all those who have mentored and supported me over the years. It is a very long list and  includes people in this room. Thankyou for being here. However I thought it appropriate on this occasion to mention but one mentor, without whom I would have never got here tonight. It is the NZ Institute of Economic Research.

The Institute was conceived by Professor Horace Belshaw as a source of independent public good research, recommended by the 1956 Royal Commission on Money and Banking, and established some 51 years ago. Initially it pursued its public good objectives by publishing research and by training recent graduates. I was one of the beneficiaries of this program and I thank Jim Andrews and Gert Lau – the first chairman and deputy-chairman of the Board of Trustees – and Conrad Blyth and Alan Catt – the first director and deputy-director – for giving me that opportunity and that training in applied economics. Perhaps I can also mention John Mowbray, who was later to give me the opportunity to direct the Institute. This evening shows, I hope, that their faith in me was justified.

And as an ex-director, may I, with the three other ex-directors in the room, wish the best to the new director Jean-Pierre de Raad and his team in the pursuit of the Institute’s objectives? I hope they have as much fun as I did – but less stress.

The Institute has extended beyond its initial activities of publishing research relevant to the public debate and training young economists including nowadays taking on summer interns, while its education activities now extend to information on its website. It tells a lot about person as to where he or she first looks in an annual report. I went to page seven where the Institute lists it Public Good Work. Even those who focus on the accounts will observe that they include a line item of Public Good Costs, in effect the part of the Institute surplus which is devoted to public good activities

The award I have just received is a further contribution by the Institute to promoting the public good in economics. I know how hard it is to find resources to promote it. And yet we must – my current program is writing a history of New Zealand from an economist’s perspective and analysing the macroeconomics of the crisis we face. I promise that as respect for the award and for the objectives on the Institute I shall invest the prize in further research for the public good. I thank the Institute for the contribution.

I shall cherish the citation forever.