Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Turn on the Economy

"Turn on the economy". That's one of the invitations issued to (web) visitors to the museum of New Zealand's central bank - The Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Accepting this invitation will allow you to see a virtual version of Bill Phillips' famous MONIAC computer at work, and to "play" with the economy yourself.

Doesn't that appeal to you?

Bill Phillips - "the Indiana Jones of Economics" - gave us "the Phillips Curve", of course. However, the MONIAC computer was a revolutionary device that Bill used to demonstrate economic stabilization policy.

If you happen to be visiting New Zealand's capital city - Wellington - you can visit the Bank's (physical) museum, and see the MONIAC "in the flesh".

© 2013, David E. Giles

The Indiana Jones of Economics

All students of economics have heard about The Phillips Curve in one of its forms or another. The Phillips Curve is named after A. W. H. (Bill) Phillips, a remarkable New Zealander who made a number of fundamental contributions. His work, undertaken largely at the London School of Economics, dealt with stabilization policy, and modelling in continuous time, to name just two topics.

Bill Phillips was quite a character, and his varied life has been amply documented in various places. His entry in Wikipedia is a useful starting point, and the memorial piece written in 1978 by one of my former teachers, Brian Easton, is also a "must read" item.

Some time ago, I wrote about Bill in a post titled, "A Moniacal Economist", in reference to his famous MONIAC machines. These were hydraulic analogue computers that could be used to demonstrate the workings of the macro-economy.

In February of this year, the BBC Radio aired a piece about Bill Phillips, titled "The India Jones of Economics". In this 14-minute broadcast, Tim Hartford provides an interesting commentary of Bill's life and contributions to our discipline. You can download the broadcast - it's Episode 4, 6 February 2013 - from here.

More about Bill Phillips at a later date..............

© 2013, David E. Giles