The great economist Martin Feldstein died yesterday, at the age of 79. The Washington Post offers the highlights of his extraordinary career. Well before becoming something of a political figure as a Reagan adviser and chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, he was an innovator in a number of fields as a young economist (including health economics, where he was a very important figure well before the field took off). And throughout his career, he went out of his way to explain economic issues to the public, to challenge his colleagues when the conventional wisdom of his profession seemed to harden, and to build institutions.
He was a member of the publication committee of National Affairs, so I was fortunate to have the opportunity to draw upon his great wisdom and advice now and then. And he also wrote some fantastic essays over the decades in the Public Interest. You can see all of those at the National Affairs website here—they offer a sense of the range of his interests and his ability to see around corners (as with this essay about why hospitals are so expensive, written in 1977, that we could stand to read again).
People as brilliant as Marty are rare. But people that brilliant who are also as decent and generous are pretty much unheard of. RIP.