NEW YORK – Economic Principals shut down itself this week, in order to attend a research conference in honor of Thomas Cooley. He is among the leaders of a generation that changed the way that much macroeconomics is done, contributing various tools for elaborating models and insisting that they routinely be tested against economic data in different ways. None of them, alas, were much use in anticipating or analyzing the recent financial crisis.
Sixteen of Cooley’s collaborators, students, and friends presented papers spanning much of the breadth of present-day dynamic, stochastic, general equilibrium (DSGE) modeling. They included Lee Ohanian ( University of California at Los Angeles), Thomas Sargent (New York University), Robert Lucas (University of Chicago), Boyan Jovanovic (NYU), Randy Wright (University of Wisconsin), Ramon Marimon (European University Institute), Gary Hansen (UCLA), Peter Rupert (University of California at Santa Barbara), Mark Bils (University of Rochester), Edward Prescott (Arizona State University and Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis), Richard Rogerson (Princeton University), Nancy Stokey (University of Chicago), Jeffrey Campbell (Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago), Harold Cole (University of Pennsylvania), David Backus (NYU) and Mikhail Chernov (UCLA).
Cooley was a systems analyst for IBM in the 1960s when he decided to retool as an economist, at the University of Pennsylvania. He spent nine years at the University of California at Santa Barbara and twenty years at the University of Rochester (with a brief return to Penn) before moving to New York University’s Stern School of Business, in 2000.
He has a knack for service. In 1995 Cooley edited the influential conference volume Frontiers of Business Cycle Research, in 1995, and, after 1999, served as the founding editor of the Review of Economic Dynamics, the flagship journal of the DSGE movement (not to be confused with Macroeconomic Dynamics, the one with the interviews, both of them descendants of the Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control) . He was dean of the Stern Schools from 2002-10, and lured three influential figures away from Stanford University, Thomas Sargent, Michael Spence and Paul Romer. Cooley oversaw the preparation by NYU authors of one handbook on the financial crisis (Restoring Financial Stability: How to Repair a Failed System), and edited another (Regulating Wall Street: The Dodd-Frank Act and the New Architecture of Global Finance). With Peter Rupert, he maintains the blog US Economic Snapshot. Still going strong, he plans to spend more time in Santa Barbara.
It’s back to business for EP next week, whatever Congress does.