The Passing of Robert Mundell

April 05, 2021

With the death of Robert Mundell, age 88, the economics profession has lost a giant and we at the Center have lost a warm friend over these past two decades. He was a frequent participant at the Center’s conferences in New York and even in Venice, Reykjavik and Berlin since its inception in 2001.

Bob made landmark contributions to economic theory and policy beginning with his journal articles extending Keynesian theory to an open economy in the 1960s. He went on to create in the 1970s what became known as supply-side economic policy, which the Reagan administration put into practice in the 1980s. Later he became an important advocate of the creation of the euro. In 1999, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

We at Columbia got to see more of him when we managed to recruit him to the Economics Department in 1974 where he remained for 40 years. His presence came in time to help us enormously with the recruitment of a new staff of macroeconomists in the 1970s. Stanley Fischer commented once in 1979 that Columbia had the best department for macroeconomics in the world. 

Bob lent a cosmopolitan tone to Columbia when he started the Santa Colomba Conferences on International Monetary Reform in Santa Colomba, Siena, in Tuscany. There, many of us met some of the movers and shakers in economic policy making such as Paul Volcker.

Remarkably, Mundell began a new phase in his career when, early in the 2000s, he started up the Nobel Laureates Beijing Forum and became an advisor to China’s central bank. 

The Center offers its sincere condolences to his wife, Valerie, his children and his many friends.

A link to his obituary in The New York Times can be found by clicking here.