Robert E. Lucas Jr., Nobel-Winning Conservative Economist, Dies at 85

Nobel laureate Robert E. Lucas Jr., a contrarian who espoused conservatives’ claims that government intervention in fiscal policy is often self-defeating, died Monday in Chicago. he was 85 years old.

His death was announced by the University of Chicago, where he began teaching as a professor in 1975 and was a professor emeritus until his death. His statement did not mention the cause.

When Professor Lucas was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1995, he became the fifth recipient of an economics prize in six years from the University of Chicago, and the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences named him “the economy that has had the greatest impact on macroeconomic research.” Scholar,” he said. Since 1970. ”

Professor Lucas put forward a number of groundbreaking, sometimes controversial, theories, but he is best known for his theory of “rational expectations,” which he put forward in his Critique of Macroeconomics in the early 1970s. is known.

In his critique, he argues that governments are designed to achieve particular results through reflex intervention policies, such as changing interest rates, raising or curbing inflation, or taking other measures to reduce unemployment. It challenged the long-established theory of John Maynard Keynes that the economy could be manipulated by

Professor Lucas argued that in the real world, consumers and businesses make decisions based on rational expectations drawn from their past experiences.

“His idea was that macroeconomic models based on many equations were based primarily on past behavior,” says David, a fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution in California and an economics professor at the Monterey Naval Postgraduate School.・R. Henderson says. “But if people learn from government actions” and react accordingly in their own interest, “these models do a poor job of predicting future behavior.”

As a result, Lucas said government economic policies could self-destruct by failing to achieve their intended outcomes.

As economic columnist Leonard Silk wrote in The New York Times in 1983, “If people could understand and anticipate what governments were doing, they could, for example, increase the money supply to accelerate economic growth. If , workers will pay more.” Demand and firms will raise prices to protect against future inflation, counteracting the government’s intention to boost real growth. ”

Professor Lucas argued that government spending displacing private investment would be counterproductive in an agenda with conservative implications for economic policy. The most important thing is the money supply. He said policies that reduce inequality by redistributing income were “fascinating” but “most harmful in my opinion” to sound economics.

He also voted for eliminating taxes on capital gains and any income derived from capital. And he advocated supply-side economics, which increases the supply of goods and services while reducing taxes to encourage job creation, business expansion and entrepreneurship.

“Supply-side economists,” he wrote. 1993 interview“Give me the biggest truly free lunch I’ve seen in 25 years of this business. I believe that if we follow their advice, we will be a better society.”

In 1995, shortly after spending eight years under supply-side advocate President Ronald Reagan and four years under another Republican President George H.W. “The U.S. economy is in great shape,” he concluded. We are not trying to do what we cannot do with economic policy. ”

And the same principles that fostered economic growth in rich countries can also be applied to economic development in poor countries, he said.

in 1988 lecture Professor Lucas, entitled “What Do Economists Do?” We do not believe that the realm of imagination and ideas is a substitute for or a retreat from practical reality. In fact, it’s the only way we’ve found to get serious about reality. ”

Robert Emerson Lucas Jr. was born on September 15, 1937 in Yakima, Washington. His mother, Jane (Templeton) Lucas, was a fashion artist. His father ran an ice cream parlor that went bankrupt during the Great Depression, and then the family moved to Seattle, where Robert Sr. became a steam mechanic at a shipyard and, after World War II, a commercial refrigerator business. I became a welder for the company. A few years later, without a college degree or engineering training, he rose to become president of the company.

But before his father’s fortunes changed, Robert Jr. wanted to become an engineer and needed a scholarship to attend college, and was offered a scholarship by the University of Chicago, but the University of Chicago There was no engineering school. He didn’t have the energy to study physics, so he majored in history. He graduated in his 1959.

He then enrolled in the Graduate Program in Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. Needing financial support again, however, he returned to the University of Chicago, where he studied under conservative economist Milton Friedman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976. Professor Lucas received his doctorate in economics in 1964.

He taught at what is now Carnegie Mellon University from 1963 to 1974, returning to the University of Chicago as a professor in 1975.

In 1959 he married Rita Cohen, who was a student at the University of Chicago. They separated in 1982 and divorced a few years later. Among his survivors are also his sons Stephen and Joseph. His partner, Professor Nancy L. Stokey, collaborated on some of his work at the University of Chicago. Sister Jenifer Spurr. brother peter. and five grandchildren.

Four years before Lucas won the Nobel Prize, his estranged wife had great faith in his future. Her lawyers inserted a clause in her divorce agreement that she would receive half of the Nobel Prize money he might have received if the Nobel Prize was awarded before October 31, 1995. . He received the award just three weeks before the deadline.

Professor Lucas had the philosophical idea of ​​collecting $300,000 instead of the full $600,000. Had he held more reasonable expectations of himself becoming a Nobel laureate, he might have hesitated during the divorce negotiations, he said.

“An agreement is an agreement,” he said at the time. “She got her whole house. Even if she got half the prize, she’d be better off doing nothing.”

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