Obituary - David Mayes


David Mayes, Professor of Economics at the University of Auckland, and an editor at the Economic Journal from 1980*, died suddenly, after a short illness, in Auckland on November 30th.

Born in Kent and a pupil at Dulwich College in South London, David was a prolific and remarkably wide-ranging researcher. His main contributions were in three fields: economic liberalisation, integration and trade (work that stemmed from his PhD research on Economic Integration at the University of Bristol, where he registered after PPE at Brasenose, Oxford); monetary policy — examining both monetary union and monetary targeting; and banking supervision and regulation. He was also a skilled applied econometrician, with a range of publications on specific modelling problems.

David, moving seamlessly between academic and policy positions, was the antithesis of the ivory tower academic. He spent seven years in economic modelling and policy analysis at the UK National Institute of Economic and Social Research and a further seven years as head of industrial economics at the UK National Economic Development Office. From the mid-1990s onward his career was spent outside of the UK, in New Zealand and Finland (while continuing to serve as production editor for the EJ; through all his various moves he gave considerable time to proof reading the full range of articles published in the EJ, and to assisting with the development of their online system for production. A year’s visit at the New Zealand Institute of Economic research in 1985 initiated a long lasting and close connection with that country. He subsequently served from 1994-97 as chief manager of the economics division at the Reserve Bank of New Zealand — in effect, chief economist.

He then joined the Bank of Finland’s Research Department where he worked for a decade. His title was advisor to the Board. Part of his role was to help the bank improve the work of its research department. There could scarcely have been a job better tailored for David’s expertise and experience. He was able to comment on work over a substantial area, suggest fresh areas of research, and bring in a wide range of visitors to interact with the department, often collaborating with its members in research projects.

He also acted as policy advisor, contributing to both the monetary policy and the financial stability sides of the Bank. Drawing on his New Zealand experience, he stressed the role of transparency and commitment in monetary policy, and developed a close rapport with Matti Vanhala, Governor and ECB Governing Council member.

David’s concerns about the weaknesses of banking regulation in the then newly established euro area also led to what was to become his most influential scholarly work. He edited and co-authored a series of timely books on banking regulation and financial stability during his Finland years: Improving Banking Supervision (2001, with Liisa Halme and Aaro Liuksila); Who Pays for Bank insolvency? (2003; with Aaro Liuksila); The Structure of Financial Regulation (2007, with Geoffrey Wood); The Future of Financial Markets (2006) and Deposit Insurance (2007, with Andrew Campbell, Raymond J La Brosse and Dalvinder Singh). In all these volumes, David promoted the idea of regulation based on bank transparency, market discipline and strong early intervention powers and the need to integrate legal, central banking and fiscal perspectives. After the euro crisis we can see how prescient this work was.

He had planned to retire when he returned to New Zealand, and bought a boat so that he could take up sailing. But he could not resist resuming both research and teaching, first as visiting professor at Auckland and then becoming Professor of Banking and Financial Institutions as well as Director of the European Institute and Co-director of the New Zealand Governance Centre. He also took up visiting posts at institutions around the world — visiting Professor at the University of Buckingham, visiting Fellow at the University of Paris and visiting Researcher at the University of Oslo, and was an active executive committee member of the International Banking, Economics and Finance Association organising sessions for them at the Pacific rim meetings of the Western Economics Association International.

He remained both wide ranging and prolific in his research, with a flow of further volumes and journal publications on both central banking and financial regulation (e.g. Towards a New Framework for Financial Regulation, with R Pringle and M Taylor, Designing Central Banks, with G Wood, and the planned volume he was working on at the time of his death with the provisional title of Regulatory Responses to the Global Financial Crisis).

In addition to his substantial professional activities, he took a keen interest in music. Finland has a very active classical music scene, which David much enjoyed during his stay in the country. He was a regular visitor to the Savonlinna Opera Festival, held each summer in a medieval castle in the lake district of Eastern Finland. After returning to New Zealand he frequently attending performances by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and New Zealand Opera and Ballet. He and his wife also travelled to Christchurch in the South Island and Australia to attended operas, and in the UK summer to the Glyndebourne Opera Festival. He also became a sponsor of Dorset Opera, based near the town in Dorset where he and his wife had bought a house. David also had a keen interest in wine. He lived on Waiheke Island, a large island in the bay of Auckland. It is home to some of New Zealand's best vineyards, and David soon became an expert on them, and an informed collector of their wines.

David was a remarkable economist and a most engaging man. He was blessed with exceptional communication skills and the ability to engage widely on economic issues with regulators, lawyers, and monetary policy makers. He continued his engagement with both scholarship and policy making until the very end. He will be greatly missed.

Geoffrey E Wood,
Cass Buisness School and University of Buckingham

Alistair Milne,
Loughborough University

* From the editors of the Economic Journal:

David Mayes completed his term as as a Joint Managing Editor of the Economic Journal in 1988 and served as the journal’s Production Editor from 1989 and was a key member of the editorial team during all those years. David reviewed the accepted manuscripts, checked the copy-editing and intervened if needed when authors raised issues about the editing of their manuscripts. David consistently ensured that the production standard of the EJ was impeccable through all the shifts and changes in modern journal publishing and ushered the journal through all these transitions and issues without ever letting the standards slip. He will be sorely missed by the journal and by those of us who have worked with him for many years. We will miss his diligence, dedication, care and the attention he gave the journal to ensure the highest quality content.

The EJ Editors

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