In Memoriam

William B. Neenan

A Trinity of Scholarship: Jesuitism, Philosophy, and Economics

Photo of William B. Neenan courtesy of the Bentley Historical LibraryBill Neenan uniquely and unconventionally integrated scholarship in the Jesuit Order with scholarship in philosophy and scholarship in economics. In the Acknowledgements in his Urban Public Economics (1981:xi) he notes that the Jesuit influence in his “life, as in history and fiction…has been pervasive, at times subtle, at times quite obvious.” Bill Neenan’s research and teaching in urban public economics continuously reflect Bill’s adherence to the missionary and educational service purposes for the founding of the Society of Jesus by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1543. “Everything in three’s,” Bill would say, with a wink.  Bill’s pursuit of Jesuitism, philosophy, and economics training forecast their three influences throughout his work in welfare, education, and urban public economics.

Bill’s education history includes Jesuit Novitiate (1948-50), A.B. Economics (1950-54), Ph.L Philosophy (1955), M.A. Economics (1956), theology studies (1958-63) culminating in S.T.L. (Theology, 1963), and Ph. D. Economics (Michigan 1966). Consistent with tradition, Bill taught Economics at the Jesuit University and high school levels from 1956-58.

A 1950’s Jesuit scholar was more or less ordered by his superiors to apply himself wherever and in whatever occupation the Order required his academic credentials. Diverging from tradition, Bill left Catholic university opportunities to become one of the earliest Jesuits (and earliest Catholic priests of any order) to earn a Ph.D. in Economics from a secular university and, even further, to teach, research, and become tenured in that secular university.

The University of Michigan Department of Economics became Bill Neenan’s academic home first as a doctoral student in 1963 and then during 1966-79 as a faculty member with a joint appointment in the School of Social Work.  Bill may have been attracted to colleagues who performed public service by serving on The Council of Economic Advisors, on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, and in cabinet-related roles as Special Technical Advisors to Secretaries of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human services. Such academic activism would have appealed strongly to Bill’s “missionary” perspective.

Bill’s high regard for scholarly collegiality was also well-served in Ann Arbor. The Michigan Economics and related joint-appointment departments were large enough to supply, as co-researchers and reviewers, economists in public finance, urban economics, economics demography, public policy and administration, urban and regional economic development and planning, and labor and industrial relations. At least four of Bill’s research projects included such collaboration.

No memoriam about Bill Neenan as a Professor of Economics would be complete without remembering Bill’s “Rules for Good Living” which he taught his students as thoroughly as he taught urban economics and local public finance. The first of these rules was to “Do good and avoid evil” (Peter I:3(11)).  Bill Neenan’s teaching was combined wittily with aphorisms from his beloved Grandma and Grandpa Neenan.  Indeed, Grandma and Grandpa Neenan are listed in the Index to Bill's Urban Public Economics alongside such stars as Henry Aaron, Paul Samuelson, Richard Musgrave, William Baumol, George Peterson, Charles Tiebout, Edward Gramlich, and Harvey Brazer.

The question from Lyman Abbott (1891) that opens Bill’s Urban Public Economics, “What shall we do with our great cities?” is addressed through all his economic publications from 1956 to 1981.  In his structured economic analysis of the “crisis” of the cities, Bill repeatedly stressed that “The goal of all economic activity is to enhance the economic welfare of consumers; such has been the belief of economists since at least Adam Smith” (Neenan, 1981:198). Welfare economic theory and models require inter-temporal dynamic approaches, in Bill’s view.  No consideration of educational finance and urban public distribution of benefits and costs can properly take a static view.  "Appropriate urban policies must proceed from a feeling of responsibility to those coming after us” (Neenan, 1981:293).

In Bill’s terms, an economist seeking necessarily to “do good and avoid evil” must describe and analyze policy alternatives using economic models and quantitative tools, but then communicate the results and benefits/costs to a lay audience. Bill concludes his book in the spirit of “doing good”” (Neenan, 1981:293), with this normative for public finance economists:

The following norms for evaluating public-sector activities emerge from the previous chapters: (1) provide and finance public services according to the benefit principle, (2) require full compensation for geographic externalities; and (3) assure the equal treatment of equals across metropolitan areas.

Bill Neenan left an indelible pastoral, spiritual, philosophical, and economic imprint upon his undergraduate and graduate students and those fortunate enough to serve as his research assistants.  Recited at his funeral mass at the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola July 1, 2014, the following hymn is fitting for this intellectually courageous economist and Jesuit teacher who labored to change for the better the secular world in which he lived:

And He will raise you up on eagle’s wings,

Bear you on the breath of the dawn,

Make you to shine like the sun,

And hold you in the palm of his hand.

-Andrea L. Long, PhD Economics


Morris Bornstein

Morris Bornstein, emeritus professor of economics, passed away in Ann Arbor on September 25th at the age of eighty-five. A true native son of Michigan, Bornstein attended public schools in Detroit and received three degrees from the University of Michigan: AB in 1947, AM in 1948, and his PhD in economics in 1952. His doctoral dissertation produced a study of “Banking Policy and Economic Development” in Brazil. Upon completion of his doctorate, Bornstein entered service as a U.S. government economist and was stationed in various agencies and locales---even including Brazil!---until he left the government and returned to Ann Arbor to join the professorial ranks of the economics faculty in 1958.

Professor Bornstein was promoted from Assistant to Associate Professor in 1962 and to full Professor just two years later in 1964. He retired as an emeritus professor in 1992. In 1966-69 Dr. Bornstein served the University as director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies.

Over time, Dr. Bornstein served his larger professional community in numerous important ways; including as a consultant to the U.S. Congress, the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the Ford Foundation, the Institute of International Education, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), and the World Bank. As well, he served on the editorial boards of some of the most prestigious journals in his field, including The Journal of Comparative Economics.

Dr. Bornstein also held visiting research appointments at Harvard University’s Russian Research Center, 1962-63; Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, 1969-70, and the French Ministry of Research and Technology, 1991.

Dr. Bornstein’s scholarly publications on comparative economic systems, the economies of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and the economics of transition included seven books (some translated into Italian, Spanish, Chinese or French) and sixty journal articles and chapters in collective volumes. His principal contributions to the economics literature include his analyses of the Soviet price system, the modeling of economic systems as integrated subsystems of property ownership, and comparisons of economic reforms in various socialist planned economies. His textbook, Comparative Economic Systems (in seven editions) was widely used in college courses over a period of thirty years.

-Saul H. Hymans, Emeritus Professor of Economics


David Aschauer

David Aschauer, who was an assistant professor in the U-M Department of Economics from 1983 to 1987, passed away unexpectedly on August 22, the day after he collapsed while swimming in the first leg of a triathlon in Cape Elizabeth, Maine. He was 58 years old.

Since 1990, Aschauer had been the Elmer W. Campbell Professor of Economics at Bates College in Lewiston, Maine. After receiving his Ph.D. in 1983 from the University of Rochester, Aschauer held positions at the University of Michigan and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.

“I'm very saddened to hear of David's passing,” said Scott E. Page, Leonid Hurwicz Collegiate Professor of Complex Systems, Political Science, and Economics, and director, Center for the Study of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan. “As an undergraduate here I only took a couple of economics classes - Fusfeld and Aschauer. David was incredible. He was really into understanding how the economy worked and forcing us to think not just memorized. He pushed me to take graduate courses in economics while I was pursuing my PhD in math at Wisconsin. It was there I met Ken Rogoff, Buzz Brock, and John Rust and decided to become an economist.”

Aschauer's primary research field was macroeconomics. He conducted theoretical and empirical research on the impacts of government spending and deficits on macroeconomic activity in developed and lesser developed countries. At the time of his death he was conducting research on the relationship between fiscal and monetary policy in the United States as well as the relationships between real interest rates and real exchange rates in an open-economy setting. He had a developing research interest transitional macroeconomics, with a particular focus on Russia and Ukraine. His research is profiled in Who's Who of Economics: A Biographical Dictionary of Major Economists.

Aschauer's teaching areas were intermediate macroeconomic theory and policy, economic growth, money and banking, international macroeconomics, and advanced macroeconomics.

A service for David was held on September 17, at Bates College.


E. Philip Howrey

Philip HowreyE. Philip Howrey, emeritus professor of economics was killed in a bicycle accident on Friday, June 17 in Boulder, Co. He was 73.

Howrey graduated from Drake University in 1959 and received his PhD in economics in 1964 at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He taught at Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania before coming to Ann Arbor.

At the time of his retirement in 2005, Professor Howrey had been a member of the U-M faculty since 1973, during which time he established a long record of distinguished contributions to macroeconometrics and time series analysis. As an active member of the national Model Comparison Seminar he was deeply involved in cooperative research with members of modeling groups at numerous centers of economic modeling activity in the U.S.

As a senior faculty member in the Research Seminar in Quantitative Economics (RSQE), Howrey produced a number of publications dealing with the reliability of macroeconomic data, the accuracy of economic forecasts, and the theory underlying the techniques used in economic forecasting.

His research focused on the proper use of economic models and data to increase understanding of economic behavior, an early example of which is the well-known 1974 paper, “Notes on Testing the Predictive Performance of Econometric Models” co-authored with Nobel Prize recipient Lawrence Klein and the late Mike McCarthy.

Sharon and Philip Howrey

In 1978, Howrey published “The Use of Preliminary Data in Econometric Forecasting,” a seminal contribution to what became a critically important strand in the literature of economic measurement. That same year saw the publication of “The Measurement and Determination of Loanable Funds Saving,” in which Howrey and his colleague Saul Hymans investigated the important, if controversial, issue of the impact of the rate of interest on personal saving. His work in this area continued in the 1990s when He and his student Michael Donihue wrote “Using Mixed Frequency Data to Improve Macroeconomic Forecasts of Inventory Investment,” and in 2001 when Howrey brought his considerable skills to bear on evaluating “The Predictive Power of the Index of Consumer Sentiment.”

E. Philip Howrey Obituary


George E. Johnson

George E. JohnsonGeorge E. Johnson, emeritus professor of economics, died March 30 at the age of seventy in Washington, D.C. Johnson attended the Babson Institute where he earned a Bachelor of Science in 1960. He then attended San Francisco State College and the University of California, Berkeley, where he earned his Doctorate in 1966. Professor Johnson joined the faculty at the University of Michigan as assistant professor in 1966 and was promoted through the ranks to professor in 1975. He was a visiting scholar at the Labor and Industrial Relations Section of Princeton University and also studied emerging labor markets as a visiting fellow at the University of Nairobi. While on leave from the University, Professor Johnson served as the Director of the Office of Evaluation in the U.S. Department of Labor in 1973-74, and as a Senior Staff Economist on the Council of Economic Advisers in 1977-78.

During his professional career, Professor Johnson wrote widely cited papers on a range of policy-related topics. His earliest work focused on labor unions, including important papers on strikes and on the effects of unions on the wages of both union members and other workers. He then studied returns to schooling, emphasizing school quality as well as number of years completed. Another series of papers looked at lifetime earnings among academics, and promotion patterns of female faculty. In other work, he assessed the potential impact of more sweeping affirmative action proposals and cautioned that standard estimates of the effects of job-retraining may overstate their true benefits. More recently, he turned his attention to the growing wage inequality and declining real wages of those at the bottom of the wage distribution, studying the consequences of both technical change and increased international trade. In recognition of his many contributions to the field of labor economics, he was elected a fellow of the Society of Labor Economists in 2006.

During his years at Michigan, Professor Johnson taught courses in macroeconomics, human resource policy, benefit-cost analysis and policy modeling, as well as graduate courses in labor economics and human capital. Several thousand undergraduates took his introductory course in macroeconomics, and many went on to major in economics. His wry sense of humor was always present and lifted the spirits of colleagues and staff and was especially appreciated on cloudy winter days.

-Linda Tesar, Chair, Department of Economics


Edward M. Gramlich

Edward M. GramlichIt is with profound sadness that we note the passing of Edward M. Gramlich, professor emeritus of economics and Richard Musgrave Collegiate Professor of Public Policy Emeritus, on September 5, 2007 in Washington, D.C. He had most recently served the University as interim provost and executive vice president of academic affairs (2005-2006). He joined the Urban Institute after retiring from the active faculty in June, 2006. Prior to returning to campus in 2005, he was a member of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System for eight years.

Ned was dean of the School of Public Policy from 1995-97 and had also served as chair of the Department of Economics and director of the Institute of Public Policy Studies (the forerunner to what is now the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy). His expertise in macroeconomic and fiscal policy had led him to serve in several capacities with the federal government including as both deputy director and acting director of the Congressional Budget Office. In addition, he chaired the Quadrennial Advisory Commission on Social Security from 1994-1996. He also served as staff director for the 1992 Economic Study Committee on Major League Baseball.

At the Federal Reserve Ned chaired the board’s Committee on Consumer and Community Affairs. During his tenure the committee proposed and the board adopted important changes in the Home Owner Equity Protection Act and the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. His published work includes books and papers on macroeconomics, budget policy, income redistribution, fiscal federalism, social security, and the economics of professional sports. His most recent publication was Subprime Mortgages: America's Latest Boom and Bust (Urban Institute).

Dr. Gramlich received his B.A. in economics from Williams College in 1961 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in economics from Yale University in 1962 and 1965 respectively.

There will be a tribute to Ned Gramlich on November 14, 2007


Daniel R. Fusfeld

Professor Emeritus of Economics Daniel R. Fusfeld died on August 11. He was 85.

A member of the Michigan faculty since 1960 and professor of economics since 1964, Daniel retired from his formal teaching duties in 1986, after a career that began in 1947. He received his bachelor’s degree from George Washington University in 1942. After military service in the army during World War II, he did graduate work at Columbia, receiving his PhD in 1953. Daniel came to Michigan after teaching at Hofstra and Michigan State. At his retirement dinner, Professor Robin Barlow estimated that “one out of every 6,000 Americans now living has taken Principles of Economics from Dan Fusfeld.” In addition, he regularly taught courses in Marxist political economy, the development of economic institutions, and the history of economic thought.

Daniel’s publications include several books as well as numerous articles and monographs. The best-known of his books is The Age of the Economist, a brief history of economic thought for the non-specialist that was translated into Spanish, German, and Italian.

He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Harriet Fusfeld; their children Robert (Carolyn) of Denver, CO; Sarah (Peter) Saulson of Syracuse, NY; and Yaakov (Hedva) Sadeh of Israel; and their grandchildren Amos and Gidon Sadeh, also from Israel.


Gary Saxonhouse

Gary SaxonhouseProfessor of Economics Gary Saxonhouse died November 30, 2006 in Seattle, WA, where he was being treated for leukemia. He was 63. Born in New York City in 1943, he attended Yale University, where he received his B.A. in 1964 and his PhD in Economics, with distinction, in 1971. He taught Economics at the University of Michigan beginning in 1970. His research focused on the Japanese economy, international trade, economic history, and economic development. Among his many significant honors and awards, Professor Saxonhouse held fellowships from the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He was also a Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (2000, 1995-96, 1984-85), a Resident at the Rockefeller Foundation's Bellagio Center (2003), Brown University's Henry Luce Professor of the Study of Comparative Development (1980-81), and a Distinguished Lecturer at the Northeast Asia Council of the Association of Asian Studies. Professor Saxonhouse was a member of the senior staff of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, and a consultant for the U.S. Departments of State, Treasury, and Commerce; and the World Bank. He testified on numerous occasions before Congressional committees and served on Advisory Panels to the U.S. Congress on the Civilian Uses of Space and Industrial Competitiveness and the American Economy. A large circle of friends, colleagues, and students will miss his presence greatly. Above all, he was a dedicated father and husband, who delighted in the time he spent with his family, both in Ann Arbor and in the many other places in which they lived and traveled. He is survived by his wife, Arlene, to whom he was married for 42 years, his children, Lilly, Noam, and Elena, his son-in-law Christopher Krenn, his daughter-in-law Lisa Nichols, his grandchildren, Hannah and Joseph Krenn, and his brother, Jack Saxonhouse.

Contributions may be made to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (Contributions, J5-200, P.O. Box 19024, Seattle, WA 98109/www.fhcrc.org), Children's Hospital Oakland (747 52nd St., Oakland, CA, 94609/www.chofoundation.org), or Earthjustice (426 17th St., 6th Fl., Oakland, CA 94612/www.earthjustice.org).


Eva Mueller

Eva MuellerEva Mueller passed away on November 19. She joined the staff of the U-M Survey Research Center after receiving her Ph.D. from Harvard in 1951. She joined the Department in 1957 where she served until her retirement in 1988. A gathering celebrating Eva’s life was held at Glacier Hills Manor in Ann Arbor on November 21. Additional information about Eva and her career, can be found here.