Vale Emeritus Professor Max Corden AC, 13/8/1927 – 22/10/2023

The Faculty of Business and Economics acknowledges the passing of Emeritus Professor Max Corden on Sunday, October 22, 2023, at the age of 96.

Max has been the economics profession’s teacher. His published work and his lectures have always been models of clarity and precision. His book Trade Policy and Welfare half a century ago precisely and clearly set out nearly the whole of what is important for policy in economic thinking about international trade.

His Inflation, Exchange Rates and the World Economy 46 years ago applied the best of international macroeconomic theory to understanding the new problems of a world disrupted by floating exchange rates and shocks from suddenly higher energy prices.

Max has always worked on the big economic issues of the day in the real world. His focus on protection and trade policy in the first two decades of his career was directed by the central Australian economic policy question of those days. His shift in focus at Oxford in the 1970s to unemployment and inflation in a world of disrupted global energy markets was the big practical question of that time. Over the past decade, he has taken a close interest in climate change and decarbonisation.

In launching Max’s autobiography Lucky Boy in the Lucky Country, his colleague and friend Emeritus Professor Ross Garnaut AC described Max as a "Conservative Liberal Social Democrat".  Professor Garnaut expanded on this phrase at the 2023 Max Corden Public Lecture:

"For small minds, these four words together mean nothing in particular. In Max’s case, each of the words adds content to a precise and rich concept."

Book cover for Max Corden's autobiography
Lucky Boy in the Lucky Country (2017), Palgrave Macmillan

"A Democrat, because in the end, public choice should give similar weight to the preferences of all people. A Social Democrat, because society works better for its members if the state intervenes to raise the living standards of its poorer members. And in any case, democracy does not work in practice unless there is reasonably equitable distribution of incomes and access to the civilising services."

"Liberal because the preferences and freedoms of individuals of all ethnicities, beliefs and circumstances should be respected and defended against the preferences or decisions of a democratic majority when these threaten to oppress individuals and minorities. And Conservative, because poorly considered large change carries risks of unhappy unintended consequences, and because people prefer change from established conditions to be gradual and comprehensible."

The Faculty mourns the loss of its colleague, our world-renowned (international) economist Max Corden, who leaves an enduring academic and economic policy legacy for Australia and the world.

We pass our condolences to Max’s family.

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