James Meade













James Meade was "one of the greatest economists of his generation" according to his obituary in The Independent. James Edward Meade, who lived at 40 High Street, in Little Shelford, was an economist and winner of the 1977 Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences with the Swedish economist Bertil Ohlin for their "Pathbreaking contribution to the theory of international trade and international capital movements."

After working in the League of Nations and the Cabinet Office, he was the leading economist of the early years of Attlee's government, before taking professorships at the LSE (1947–57) and Cambridge University (1957–67).

Meade was born in Dorset. He attended Oriel College, Oxford in 1926 to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics. His interest in economics grew from an influential postgraduate year at Trinity College, Cambridge (1930–31).

In April 1940, Meade left Geneva for England with his family because of the war. He became a member of the Economic Section of the War Cabinet Secretariat in England until 1947 rising to the post of Director in 1946. Meade used the section to solve everyday economic problems ranging from the rationing system to the pricing policy of nationalized companies.

Meade became the professor of trade at the London School of Economics in 1947. While he was in Oxford, Meade had written a short textbook titled “An Introduction to Economic Analysis and Policy. Meade believed it was time to rewrite the book. Meade started teaching international economics, more precisely the Theory of International Economic Policy. It slowly cultivated into Meade’s two books, The balance of Payments(published in 1951) and Trade and Welfare(published in 1955).The first volume ,”The Balance of Payments” stresses on the fact that for each of its policy objectives, the government requires a policy tool.

The second volume, “Trade and Welfare” deals with conditions under which free trade makes a country better off and conditions under which it does not. Meade concluded that, contrary to previous beliefs, if a country was already protecting one of its markets from international competition, further protection of another market could be “second best.” That is, although the ideal would be to eliminate all trade barriers, if for some reason this was not feasible, then adding a carefully chosen dose of protectionism could improve the nation’s economic well-being. The two books took Meade ten years to complete however according to him they still did not cover the entire field of international economic policy since he had given less attention to the issue of international aspects of economic growth or dynamic imbalance. Despite his words, Meade was awarded with the Nobel Prize along with Bertil Ohlin in 1977.

In 1957 Meade moved from London to the chair of political economy in Cambridge, which he held till 1967 after which he resigned to become a senior research fellow of Christ’s  College, Cambridge where he stayed until his retirement in 1974.During this time Meade started thinking about writing one or two volumes on the domestic aspects of economic theory and policy. He successfully wrote four volumes in this series namely The Stationary Economy, The Growing Economy, The Controlled Economy, and The Just Economy. Even after the four volumes Meade still believed that he had just made the beginning. He believed that the frontiers of knowledge when it comes to economics keep expanding at such a rate that it was almost impossible to establish a soundly based understanding of the entire subject and its ever evolving parts.

In 1974 Meade took time off to act as full-time chairman of a committee set up by the Institute for Fiscal Studies to examine the structure of direct taxation in the United Kingdom. The committee consisted of a number of first-rate economic theorists and of leading practitioners in tax law, accountancy and administration.

Meade died in Little Shelford at the age of 88 in 1995.

James Meade’s life story is based on material from Wikipaedia.

Meade’s books included:

·         The Theory of International Economic Policy – The Balance of Payments (1951)

·         The Theory of International Economic Policy – Trade and Welfare (1955)

·         Principles of Political Economy (1965–76)

·         The Intelligent Radical's Guide To Economic Policy (1975)

·         Liberty, Equality and Efficiency (1993)

Obituary in The Independent

Obituary in the New York Times


James Meade (centre) presenting the village with the Enclosures Map after winning the Nobel Prize. Left to right Group Captain John Altham, Chairman of the Parish Council, James Meade and Ray Saich, Chairman of the Trustees of the Hemorial Hall.