Ken Arrow and the Annual Review of Economics

From Sam Gubins, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus, Annual Reviews

Kenneth Arrow.

It is achingly sad to report the passing of Kenneth Arrow. As described by Michael Weinstein in Monday’s New York Times, Ken Arrow was a brilliant economist, the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Prize for Economics. He was also the founding Co-Editor of the Annual Review of Economics.

Update: due published in August 2019 – The Economics of Kenneth J. Arrow: A Selective Review.

At a lunch at the Stanford Faculty Club in April, 2007, I invited Ken to launch an Annual Review in economics. Although Annual Reviews had been publishing journals in the social sciences for several decades, none were in economics. While this publishing house is well known in many disciplines, it was largely unknown among economists. For this reason I was concerned that Ken would be unconvinced of the need for extended reviews written by leading economists, and additionally, that leading economists would not easily be persuaded to write them. Ken quickly dispelled both concerns. He said that he was a regular reader of articles in many Annual Reviews series and understood how valuable they were in synthesizing developments in fields. He had been introduced to them by the sociologist Robert K. Merton and the psychologist Gardner Lindzey. In addition to the social science journals, Ken read articles in several Annual Reviews, including Public Health, Neuroscience, Environment, Ecology, and others. So to my request that he take on the task of serving as inaugural editor, he agreed enthusiastically, inviting Timothy Bresnahan to serve as a Co-Editor.

Most of those he invited to join him on the inaugural editorial committee were unfamiliar with Annual Reviews, yet all agreed to serve.  And most of those invited to write reviews accepted and delivered a manuscript.  Ken was so beloved and revered that the community was eager to join any endeavor of which he was a part.

His colleagues persuaded Ken to write an essay for Volume 1, Some Developments in Economic Theory Since 1940: An Eyewitness Account, which is a personal reflection on his relationship to the development of economic theory over 70 years.

Tim Bresnahan captured the essence of Ken when he wrote, “he was a great man, a great colleague, and a great economist.” We were privileged to have known him.

Photo credit: Linda A. Cicero / Stanford News Service, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Free Trade and the U.S. Election

2908273630_bd93cee6f3_zAs we approach the end of the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States, we explore one of the most heatedly discussed issues: international trade and the various trade deals the country has entered.

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s nominee, has been criticized by Donald Trump, the Republican Party’s nominee, for her support of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), signed in 1994 between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico by her husband, then-U.S. President Bill Clinton. During her tenure as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama, she spoke in favor of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a proposed deal between 12 countries of the Pacific Rim that has become a priority for the current administration.

Secretary Clinton now says NAFTA didn’t live up to its potential and will need to be renegotiated—a promise made by the Obama campaign in 2008, which his administration didn’t keep. She also says that the latest version of the TPP, which would cover 40% of the global economy with approximately 800 million consumers, doesn’t meet her “high bar” for “creat[ing] American jobs, rais[ing] wages and advanc[ing] our national security.”

Another proposed deal in the early stages of the negotiating process is the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), between the European Union and the United States, covering a third of global trade.

Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has built his platform on a blanket rejection of free trade.

As the political tide seems to have turned toward protectionism, World Trade Organization Director General Roberto Azevedo has expressed concern about the anti-trade rhetoric on both sides of this campaign. With election day looming, what can we learn about trade deals, regional and global, and their long-term effects on participating economies, specifically on poverty, the environment, and public health? Do they result in net gains or net losses?

Learn more with these five articles, which we’ve made freely available:

Photo credit.