Vale Max Corden

The Economic Society mourns the loss of Max Corden  (1927- 2023), one of the greatest international trade economists. 

Max came to Australia in the late 1930s as a Jewish refugee from Germany. He studied economics at the University of Melbourne and then obtained a scholarship to the London School of Economics. He taught at the University of Melbourne, the Australian National University, Oxford University, and Johns Hopkins University, and advised the IMF. He was an engaging and supportive teacher and mentor to countless students, including many important economists (Paul Collier, Martin Wolf, and…). He believed in the power of a good diagram! 

Max was a strong advocate for reducing tariffs and other protectionist trade barriers, and was one of several Australian academics and policymakers instrumental in bringing down the high tariff barriers of the 1960s. Many economists credit the reduction of tariff barriers and ensuing impetus for economic reform for Australia’s subsequent prosperity.

Max made two great contributions to international trade theory. The first was the concept of the effective rate of trade protection: with very different tariff rates applied to different products, it matters not only what the tariff is on cars, but also on imported inputs into the production of cars. A domestic industry (such as car manufacturing) that faced a high tariff on a key input could be suffering, not benefiting, from the tariff system; and a low or zero tariff on inputs would mean that the domestic industry was receiving more assistance per unit of value added than the tariff suggested. The second is the concept of Dutch Disease, so named after the discovery of oil in the North Sea impacted the Dutch and British economies. Max Corden and Peter Neary pointed out that a country whose resources (such as oil or iron ore) become more valuable can find that the resulting (higher) exchange rate is harmful to its other industries, such as manufacturing.

He remained passionately interested in public policy debates, a delightful conversationalist and a great friend, well into his nineties. The ESA is grateful to Simon Corden, his nephew, for caring for Max and keeping him connected to his wide circle of friends.

Dear family, friends and former colleagues of Max

A memorial service to celebrate Max's long, joyful and productive life will be held:

- At the Junior Common Room, Queens College, University of Melbourne, 1 - 17 College Crescent Parkville, VIC 3052 

- On Thursday 2 November 2023 at 2pm, with refreshment to follow. 

Those of you who know Melbourne, will know that the University is well served by public transport (Number 19 tram from outside the Elizabeth Street entrance of Flinders Street Station, and then an 8 minute walk from the Gatehouse St/Royal Parade stop), but there is very limited parking in the area and unfortunately none available on the college grounds.

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