Celebrating a unique Kiwi inventor

Published: Wed 11 Oct 2006 10:39 AM
The following press release was issued on behalf of the 2008 Phillips Symposium Committee a short time ago:
2008 Phillips Symposium Committee
Date 11 October 2006, 9.30am
Celebrating a unique Kiwi inventor
Tonight Dr Alan Bollard will give a presentation on the remarkable Kiwi economist, AWH (Bill) Phillips. The presentation previews the Symposium "Markets and Models: Policy Frontiers in the AWH Phillips Tradition" that will be held in Wellington, New Zealand, 9-11 July 2008. The year 2008 marks the 50th anniversary of Bill Phillips' most famous work, the Phillips Curve.
Dr Bill Phillips became well-known as an economist in 1958, when he published his influential work, on the relationship between inflation and unemployment, illustrated by the Phillips Curve. He regarded his 1958 article (a "wet weekend's bit of work") as of only passing interest. Nevertheless, the 1958 article led to a re-shaping of macroeconomic policy for decades.
Bill Phillips' career embraced more than just the curve that carried his name. His work also embraced economic modelling including the famous MONIAC machine (dynamic model of a working economy), stabilisation policy, econometrics, economic dynamics and economic development.
The 2008 Symposium is a collaboration between the annual New Zealand Association of Economists (NZAE) conference and the Econometric Society Australasian Meeting (ESAM). Attracting the world's top economists, the symposium will place Phillips' work in the context of the history of economic thought, and will present the latest frontier work on economic theory, modelling and analysis.
For more information about the Symposium please visit the Symposium's website
The Life of Bill Phillips
Phillips' was born in 1914 on a farm in New Zealand, 200 kilometres from Wellington. Phillips had an adventurous youth, travelling through Australia (where he ran an outback movie theatre).
He 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).
Arriving in London after the war, Phillips wanted to understand more about the world. He decided to study economics, and attended classes at the London School of Economics (LSE). Despite a rather undistinguished under-graduate career, he was invited to study for a post-graduate degree. Phillips was fascinated with the interactions of sectors across the economy.
Using his engineering knowledge, he built a hydraulic model of the economy called the MONIAC. Today, only a few of the hydraulic models he built survive.
Phillips left London after the 1968 student riots and returned to Australasia, holding posts first at Australian National University and then at University of Auckland. Phillips' died in 1975, aged just 61. However his legacy in many fields lives on.
There are several exciting sponsorship opportunities available in conjunction with the Symposium. Please contact John Stephenson (NZIER), (john.stephenson[at] for a sponsorship prospectus.

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