Western Australia

Mary Morgan Visit

Mary S. Morgan's Visit


ESA WA hosts Professor Mary S. Morgan

Professor Mary Morgan FBA (Professor of History and Philosophy of Economics at London School of Economics and Political Science www.lse.ac.uk ) recently visited Australia as the Economic Society of Australia Eminent Speaker for 2016. Mary has published widely on the history of econometrics, measurement issues, the role of models in social-science, and many other issues. Her books include History of Econometric Ideas 1990, Foundations of Econometric Analysis (with D. Hendry), 1995, The Age of Economic Measurement (ed. with Julie Klein) HOPE 2001, and The World in the Model 2012. She has been President of major societies in her area of the history and methodology of economics, and served on editorial boards of the major journals.   Mary has a particular reputation as an excellent doctoral supervisor and mentor of young researchers.

During her visit to Perth, members had the opportunity to hear Mary present the Shann Memorial Lecture at the UWA Business School on Wednesday 27 April. She also talked at the Members dinner with Mary event at the Matilda Bay Restaurant on Thursday 28 April; and gave the keynote speech to the Economic Society Workshop: Measurement and Policy held at the Curtin Graduate school of Business on Friday 29 April.


The Shann Memorial Lecture


Professor Mary S. Morgan presenting the Shann Memorial Lecture


In her Shann Memorial Lecture, Mary pointed to a great gap between the philosophical idea that some models in economics are ‘fictions’, created for logical coherence within their own world without much regard for the relationship to concrete economic phenomena, and the approach to economic thinking that places emphasise on facts. In Mary’s view, the most successful models are neither ‘fictions’ nor facts; but artefacts. That is, artificial creations of people, but with ‘keys’ that map the more abstract elements to concrete reality.   The lecture was modelled on her Keynes’ Lecture to the British Academy, which van be viewed on youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-tsoGmOlfg


Professor Philip Dolan, Dean, UWA Business School, Professor Paul Johnson, Vice Chancellor, UWA, Professor Mary S. Morgan, LSE, and Professor Michael McLure, President Economic Society of Australia, WA


Members’ Dinner with Mary

Mary was the special guest of honour at an informal dinner held at the Matilda Bay Restaurant overlooking the beautiful Swan River. The event was hosted by the President of the Economic Society of Australia WA, Michael McLure and attended by Paul Johnson, Vice Chancellor, UWA, and members of the Society and their partners. During the dinner Mary shared some of her reflections about Economics as a profession and how the profession’s relationship with other disciplines has changed over time.


Economic Society Workshop: Measurement and Policy

                       Professor Mary Morgan’s Keynote Speech                                              Professor Margaret Nowak’s Endnote Speech


 Mary Morgan (centre) with some of the presenters and attendees at ‘the Workshop’ from left to right – Yashar Tarverdi, Anusha Mahendran, Jake Fraser, Anis Rezae, Corey Davies, Jill Trinh, Alex Colaillo, Mary Morgan, Ken Clements, Margaret Nowak, Michael Jetter, Chris Shulha (front), Christopher Parsons (back), Inga Kristoffersen, Manal Shehabi, Karen Knight.


The Economic Society convened a workshop attended by members of the Society on measurement and policy with Mary as the key note speaker. She spoke about poverty measurements, highlighting how measurements suitable for scientific purposes are not necessarily optimal for policy purposes. Professor Morgan also provided great insights into how measures of poverty have evolved over time, citing examples ranging from the Booth poverty maps of the late 19th century to the present-day Sustainable Development Goals . On this occasion Mary was joined by a number of highly respected Western Australian economists including:

  • Professor Ken Clements (UWA), who spoke on the long-term value of the Australian dollar using an adjusted Big-Mac purchasing power parity index,
  • Mr Peter Kolf (Chairman, Independent Market Operator; and Director, KPK Specialist Advisory Services), who discussed energy industry restructuring in Western Australia; and
  • Emeritus Professor Margaret Nowak (Curtin University), who gave a thought provoking talk on the re-imagining jobs and careers – and asking the question: has the construct of the 'full-time job' outlived its usefulness?

The Workshop also featured a “Young Economists Session” (https://www.facebook.com/WA-Young-Economists-993147254065795/), which featured presentations by:

  • Dr Michael Jetter (UWA), who discussed the economics of terrorism in his talk on ‘blowing things up’, and
  • Dr Christopher Parsons (UWA), who discussed the virtues of going to extraordinary lengths to collect data in his presentation on the gravity of high skilled migration policies.

All in all, Mary Morgan’s very productive visit to WA was capped off with a wonderful workshop, the highlight of which was the high quality discussion presenters managed to generate.

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