UO Professor, Bretton Woods Economist, Dies at Age 93

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), September 14, 2006 | Go to article overview

UO Professor, Bretton Woods Economist, Dies at Age 93


Byline: Rebecca Nolan The Register-Guard

A University of Oregon professor, believed to be the last surviving economist from the 1944 Bretton Woods conference that led to the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, died Tuesday at his home in Eugene.

Raymond Mikesell died of age-related causes. He was 93.

Mikesell taught economics at the university from 1957 to 1993. After his retirement, he continued to lecture as professor emeritus and conduct research, said Van Kolpin, head of UO's economics department.

"He was still active in the sense of writing research and going to conferences not that long ago," Kolpin said. "He was still interested and actively engaged in the profession."

According to an obituary posted on the UO Web site, Mikesell earned his doctorate in 1939 from Ohio State University.

After several years on the faculty at the University of Washington in Seattle, he went to work for the federal government to help prepare the economy for war.

Toward the end of World War II, he became an adviser to Assistant Treasury Secretary Harry Dexter White, who led U.S. efforts to shape the world's economy after the war.

Mikesell was present at the Bretton Woods conference, where White and the British economist John Maynard Keynes negotiated the design of the World Bank, the IMF and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. The institutions funded the European recovery and laid the foundation for the postwar economic expansion.

Mikesell provided data for White to use against Keynes' attempts to preserve British interests.

``When it came to fighting World War II, the British couldn't pay for it, so they went to the Americans and they said we'll lend you the money,'' Oregon economist Bill Harbaugh said.

``But when the war ends, they told the British you'll end your colonial preferences and we're going to have a new world order based on free trade. …

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