Jack Hirshleifer

Jack Hirshleifer was my colleague for 24 years - and for innumerable conversations and immeasurable advice I will always be grateful. If you want to know more of his work, you should look here.

Jack was my teacher and mentor, and in this brief memorial I want to speak of the profound influence he had early in my career. I entered UCLA as a sophomore in 1974. I took Economics 101A my first quarter at UCLA and Jack was my teacher. Two details of the class stand out in my mind. First, was Jack's insistence on assigned seating and seating charts so that he could call on students by name. Second, was the exceptional clarity of thought in Jack's lectures. But no matter how well taught, the class was a fairly low level class - meaning from my point of view very easy - and Jack quickly figured this out. I don't remember exactly how we started talking - I was not a great one for attending office hours in those days - probably he grabbed me after class. But it represented the start of a lifetime relationship. We discovered that Jack was not only my teacher - he had been my father's teacher as well.

At Jack's insistence I switched in my second quarter from undergraduate to graduate economics, and so when I saw Jack in class again it was in Economics 201 rather than 101. The seating charts and the clarity of thought were still there, but I would not describe that class as "low level" or "very easy." But the greatest kindness that Jack did when I was an undergraduate at UCLA was to hire me as his research assistant. I was considerably poorer in those days, so the money was gratefully received. But what a job! Some research assistants get sent to the library to dig through old books. Jack hired me to work out my own thoughts and learn how to put them into writing - paying me, so he could supervise my research! I can't claim to have had many coherent thoughts at the time, but Jack was immensely patient with me. If even now I can only aspire to his clarity of writing, over the years I do believe that some of it has rubbed off.

I do not recall in detail all the topics that Jack and I discussed then or since. They say that the most important citations are the ones we don't make because the ideas have become a foundation of our way of thinking. Jack's influence is of that type - pretty much everything I think about economics bears his influence. If I look at the areas in which I have done research in my career - intertemporal choice and equilibrium; uncertainty and information; learning and evolution - in each case Jack was there first and I followed in his footsteps. That is not, I think, a coincidence.