Reflections of Eminent Economists

Reflections of Eminent Economists

Edited by Michael Szenberg and Lall Ramrattan

In this collection of autobiographical essays, 26 prominent scholars detail their professional development, while offering insight into their lives and philosophies. With candor and humor they relate how they came to the field of economics, as well as how their views have evolved over the years.

Chapter 2: My Life Philosophy

Bela Balassa

Subjects: economics and finance, economic psychology, history of economic thought


* Bela Balassa My life philosophy can be described at three levels. At one level it means that I try to make the best of any situation, whatever the circumstances. This goes from writing my first paper on economics in English while I was deported from Hungary between 1951 and 1953 to rebuilding my professional life after a serious cancer operation in August 1987. At another level, my life philosophy refers to the importance I attach to personal freedoms, including the freedom of economic opportunity. In fact, I was exhilarated to find on arriving in the United States in April 1957 that as a foreigner I had no handicap in competing at the university and later for jobs. Finally, my attachment to economic freedoms has led me to espouse a liberal economic philosophy, in the European sense. This philosophy has influenced my views on economic policies in developed, socialist and developing countries alike. But more about this later. A BRIEF LIFE HISTORY I was born on 6 April, 1928 in Budapest. My father was an officer in the Hungarian army, which meant high social standing on a very small income. Nonetheless, I was sent to the best schools and the education I received at the Cistercian Gymnasium remained a major asset throughout my professional life. Having finished high school in 1946, I simultaneously enrolled at the Law and Political Science Faculty of the University of Budapest and at the Foreign Trade Academy, completing both with honors. At the University, my interest...

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