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Marcello de Cecco (1939-2016)

The Department of Economics and Statistics of Siena University held a day-long conference in memory of Marcello de Cecco on 17 September, which would have been his 77th birthday. By displaying the richness and depth of Marcello’s contributions of a lifetime, the Siena Conference stressed how dependent on his wisdom many of us had become […]

I first met Marcello in October 1963 in Cambridge. Our dear common friend the late Bruno Miconi, a fellow research student in economics, introduced him to me. I already knew and appreciated Marcello from his contributions to Mario Pannunzio’s Il Mondo, but I found him even more impressive in person. Flamboyant, brilliant, learned, ironical and witty, yet approachable, friendly, generous. We got on well immediately. I have been fortunate in having him as a friend and colleague not only in our Cambridge years but also at Siena University, at the European University Institute in Florence, and at the Sapienza University in Rome – in almost daily contact for a total of over 25 years out of the over 50 years of our association.

Marcello was an alert and insatiable observer of current economic, political and social affairs, never satisfied with simple explanations but searching for deeper causes, enquiring “come va il fatto”. I remember his surprise when the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano that follows a similar inquisitive approach was published. Bruno Miconi used to say that Marcello should have been a film scriptwriter.

A Pembroke man, Marcello was held in great esteem by his supervisor Michael Posner; given his interests in international finance he was also in touch with Kingsman Richard Kahn, who however suspected him (injustly) of monetarist inclinations, because of his contacts with Chicago and Milton Friedman. Marcello had created a considerable intellectual niche for himself through his work on Eurodollars – dollar-denominated deposits held outside the US, mostly in Europe, thus escaping regulation by the Federal Reserve Board including reserve requirements. In this area at the time he knew more than his teachers and his expertise was appreciatively recognised and utilised in seminars and discussions. We both were invited to become members of the Monday Group, a seminar in Economics held regularly if reservedly in King’s. We shared an interest in the history of economic thought, indeed in a little known Russian pioneer of mathematical economics, Vladimir K. Dmitriev; Marcello edited the Italian version of his Economic Essays on Value, Competition and Utility, I edited the English version. When it became apparent that we were working on the same thing Marcello simply said that nobody had a monopoly on that author. At a Faculty seminar we presented a joint criticism of the Modigliani-La Malfa model of the interaction of monetary and real aspects of the Italian balance of payments. Later we co-operated in other research projects, especially in Florence.

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