Remembering Basil Yamey
Thanks to a selection by Erik Thompson for the mailing list of the historians of economic thought, I ran into this article commemorating Basil Yamey. Yamey passed away in 2020, at the respectable age of 101. I had the pleasure of meeting him a couple of years before. He was kind and generous with his time – and sharp as a razor.
This piece by R.H. Macve focuses on Yamey’s impressive contributions to the history of accounting. The LSE obituary remembers Yamey’s interest in the arts: he was for a long time a Trustee of the National Gallery and published a splendid book on Art and Accounting.
He was a colleague and friend of Peter Bauer and they two of them must have had one of the closest coauthor relationship ever. In this affectionate tribute to Bauer, Yamey, quite consistently with his natural understatement and his kind and humble demeanour, emphasised his friend’s work and underplays his own contribution. But clearly their partnership was a mutual effort, which depended much on Yamey’s input, too. He brought a keen eye for entrepreneurial effort, which is part of their criticism of foreign aid and its consequences. They were both perfectionist in writing, and tried to write well, eloquently and elegantly. Their work is still a pleasure to read. A good starting point, if you’re interested, is The Economics of Under-developed Countries.