In Remembrance of Robert "Bob" Emerson Lucas (1937-2023)
Updated: May 20
“The consequences for human welfare involved in questions like these are simply staggering: once one starts to think about them, it is hard to think about anything else”
- Bob Lucas
Noted Keynesian Economist, Dr. Gregory Mankiw, once remarked that, Dr. Robert “Bob” E. Lucas Jr. was the “most influential macroeconomist of the last quarter of the 20th century.” Even the Nobel Prize Committee of Economics had echoed a similar sentiment, indicating that the 1995 Nobel Laureate was the economist, “whose work has had the greatest impact on the development of macroeconomics and macro econometrics since 1970.”
Such high regard for “Bob" Lucas was a common theme in those whose lives he touched, whether through his lectures at the University of Chicago, his celebrated textbooks read by thousands of students annually, or his groundbreaking papers, including that with Thomas Sargent in 1979, which offered deep insights on the ramifications of Keynesianism in the 1970s.
Multiple members of Schumpeter Circle’s editorial team, including Tambourine Innovation Ventures (TIV) COO Ravi Gupta, had the chance to serve under Dr. Lucas’ tutelage at the University of Chicago, where Professor Lucas taught Macroeconomics. The role of great intellectuals, such as Bob Lucas, is something to be celebrated, especially in a time when there is a dearth of “thought leaders,” due to the development of short-attention spans, largely a byproduct of the social media epidemic and a diet built on digital consumption.
The role of inspirational peers such as Bob Lucas is perhaps most evident, as he declared in his his 1995 autobiographical excerpt which he provided for Nobel committee. In celebration of his award "... for having developed and applied the hypothesis of rational expectations, and thereby having transformed macroeconomic analysis and deepened our understanding of economic policy, "Bob Lucas wrote how,
“In the fall of 1960, I began Milton Friedman‘s price theory sequence. I had been looking forward to this famous course all summer, but it was far more exciting than anything I had imagined. What made it so? Many Chicago students have tried to answer this question. Certainly Friedman’s brilliance and intensity, and his willingness to follow his economic logic wherever it led all played a role. After every class, I tried to translate what Friedman had done into the mathematics I had learned from Samuelson. I knew I would never be able to think as fast as Friedman, but I also knew that if I developed a reliable, systematic way for approaching economic problems I would end up at the right place.”
Regardless of one’s opinion of his economic theory or philosophy, what is clear is that Bob Lucas dedicated his life to the improvement of humanity and for the betterment of society. Despite his mournful passing on May 15, 2023, his efforts will forever be remembered.