Warren Pat Hogan, 3 April 1929-17 December 2009: Academic Economist, Adviser to Business and Government

Article excerpt

Emeritus Professor Warren Hogan, Professor of Economics in the University of Sydney, 1968-1998, and earlier, Professor and Dean in the University of Newcastle, has died following a short illness and period of hospitalisation. He was a distinguished contributor to academic economics for half a century, as well as being extensively involved in business and government throughout his career. He also undertook, over a long period, a wide range of energetic contributions to service organisations. I take the opportunity here to make some comments pertaining to the history of economics in particular, together with some personal reflections. (1)

When Warren Hogan was approaching his sixty-fifth birthday in 1994 there were rumblings and speculation in the University of Sydney's Faculty of Economics as to whether the long-serving and distinguished Professor would 'finally' now retire--evidence enough that academic life rarely suffers from a scarcity of backbiting.

Awareness of these speculations about his future only served to add to Hogan's delight when, at that time, I rather publicly made the observation that, by happy chance, his sixty-fifth birthday happened to be falling on Easter Sunday of that year--and that the coincidence of this watershed birthday with that Christian festival, resurrection Sunday, surely was auspicious for a productive future of continuing work.

It did indeed turn out to be such a good omen. Warren Hogan retired from the University of Sydney on the last day of February 1998, Saturday 28th. He took up an appointment as Adjunct Professor in the School of Finance and Economics at the University of Technology, Sydney, and maintained an extraordinarily energetic and productive intellectual life for a further decade and more.

Another and rather more bizarre coincidence than that of his sixty-fifth birthday and Easter Sunday occurred with his departure from the Sydney Faculty something which only became known the following week. The Dean of the Faculty, economic historian Stephen Salsbury, had died the following day, Sunday 1 March.

I recall Hogan's son, Alan, who was assisting him with the removal of his voluminous papers from the building, coming up the stairs of the Faculty building the next day and informing me of this. I responded that if this were written as fiction and placed before an editor it would be thrown back in one's face, as too contrived to be plausible! Hogan and Salsbury earlier had been allies--they were rather natural allies in some respects--but relations had become strained in their latter years. It was as if the Dean, who had been battling cancer for a decade, had hung on merely to outlast Hogan.

While in his 'post-Sydney' years, Hogan's academic research continued mainly along the lines of the finance and banking interests he had pursued since the 1980s, he also cultivated some history-of-thought interests. He was indeed more generally a friend of the history of economic thought, regarding it as important that the field remain an area of study within economics departments and schools. In the lengthy retrospective interview with John Lodewijks, Hogan commented on the fate of his old Department since the 1990s:

The focus of the Economics Department has narrowed. The long-standing prominence of history of economic thought and analysis under the outstanding leadership of Peter Groenewegen has been whittled down greatly. Finance is a separate school. The separation is substantial. The Department of Economics is diminished. (Lodewijks 2007, p. 452)

In these later years he was a regular attendee at HETSA conferences and pursued some contributions to the historiography of Australian economics. He was particularly fascinated with the career and contributions of A. G. B. Fisher (Hogan 2007a). Fisher was very much unfinished business for Warren. The last time I saw him prior to his hospitalisation, over lunch at my house on 18 September 2009, we discussed a manuscript Hogan had acquired of Fisher lecture notes on Keynes's General Theory (1936), for a course Fisher apparently delivered at the University of Western Australia the very year the book was published. …