Bill Phillips: Man, Money and Machine
1 July 2008
AWH (Bill) Phillips was a remarkable Kiwi economist and 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of his most famous creation, the Phillips Curve.
Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard said that Dr Phillips' influential 1958 paper on the relationship between inflation and unemployment, catapulted him to prominence as one of the most significant economists of the mid-20th century. Phillips himself regarded his article (a "wet weekend's bit of work") as of only passing interest. Nevertheless, it led to a reshaping of macroeconomic policy for decades.
"Bill Phillips led a remarkable life," Dr Bollard said. He was born in 1914 on a farm in New Zealand. He had an adventurous youth, travelling through Australia (where he ran an outback movie theatre and was a crocodile hunter).
Phillips trained as an electrician. However, his civilian life was interrupted by the Second World War, and he was captured and held as a Japanese prisoner of war. Unlike many of his cohorts, he survived; he features in the book Night of the New Moon (on which the film Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence, starring David Bowie, was based). …