Think for yourselves, shape the future

Michael Parkin

Michael Parkin

Today’s graduates are stepping out into a world where the economic landscape seemingly has more problems than solutions – a world in which graduates will play an important role in advancing growth for the future, said Michael Parkin, an influential economist and professor emeritus in the Department of Economics at Western.

Parkin, along with Western colleague and fellow economist David Laidler, spoke to graduates from the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, the faculties of Arts and Humanities, Education, Information and Media Studies, Law, Science, Social Science and the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at the Friday, October 28 afternoon session of Western’s 308th Convocation. Western conferred an honorary Doctor of Laws, honoris causa (LL.D.), upon Parkin and Laidler in recognition of their distinguished careers in economics.

Following an arduous bounce-back from the 2008 recession, economic growth has slowed, Parkin told graduates. And no one knows why.

“New technologies in the wings that haven’t been exploited fully yet, however, will create new businesses and jobs. A new industrial revolution is around the corner and today’s graduates mean new growth is around the corner,” he added.

“All of you, regardless of your field of study, learned something important at Western – how to think, how to tackle a problem – skills to which you will turn to again and again in your life. You are entering the labor market at a time of great difficulty, but with what you’ve learned at Western, I’m sure you’re up to the task.”

Parkin is a highly influential economist who co-wrote Economics and Foundations of Economics, two of the best-selling introductory texts in economics, published in dozens of editions and languages around the world, with his wife Robin Bade.  He has published more than 160 journal articles and edited volumes on the financial and monetary system, monetary policy and inflation. After studying economics at the University of Leicester and holding appointments at the University of Sheffield, the University of Essex and the University of Manchester, Parkin joined Western’s Department of Economics in 1975, where he remains professor emeritus.

Parkin supervised 14 PhD students while at Western. Many of his students have gone on to have influential academic and government careers, among them Stephen Poloz, the current Governor of the Bank of Canada.

Laidler, fellow Economics professor emeritus, encouraged graduates to think for themselves.

“If you sometimes feel you know a little better about this and that than those who taught you, you’re probably right,” he said. “In the future, as you recall your teachers’ advice with respect, I think it will be wise to come to your own conclusions, and then follow them.”

A graduate of the London School of Economics, Syracuse University and the University of Chicago, award-winning economist Laidler taught at the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Essex and the University of Manchester before joining Western’s Department of Economics in 1975, where he is still Professor Emeritus. In 1998, he served as Visiting Economist and Special Adviser to the Governor of the Bank of Canada. Co-recipient of the 2004-05 Donner Prize for his book Two Percent Target: Canadian Monetary Policy Since 1991, Laidler is also the author of The Demand for Money – Theories and Evidence and Introduction to Microeconomics, as well as Essays on Money and Inflation, The Golden Age of the Quantity Theory and Fabricating the Keynesian Revolution.

Laidler was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1982, and served as President of the Canadian Economics Association in 1987–1988. A firm champion of the value of a historical perspective for macroeconomic theorists and policy analysts, Laidler was named a Distinguished Fellow of the History of Economics Society in 2009.  In 2012, he was named Fellow of the Canadian Economics Association and has received numerous research prizes over the years.

David Laidler

David Laidler

In her citation, Economics professor Audra Bowlus credited both Parkin and Laidler for the tremendous success of the Department of Economics, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

“In the late 1980s, Dr. Parkin was Chair of the Department. His leadership contributed to making Western Economics the number one economics department in Canada, recognized then as an institution known worldwide for its research in macroeconomics, monetary economics and international economics. He is a leading example of an economist who has left his mark on students, researchers, policy makers and on Western,” she said.

“Dr. Laidler is a foremost expert on monetary policy regimes in Canada and North America. He played a major role in the Bank of Canada’s adoption of inflation-rate targeting as a means of achieving stability and transparency in Canadian monetary policy and the Canadian economy, and was selected to serve as the Bank of Canada’s first Special Advisor from 1998-1999. He remains one of the top economists in Canada, active on both the monetary policy scene and the History of Economic Thought research front.”

Also during the ceremony, DAN Management and Organizational Studies professor Ann Bigelow was awarded the Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching. Social Sciences professor and former Dean Brian Timney was likewise named professor emeritus.