Michaël Assous, HOPE Center Fellow, 2012-13

Michaël Assous comes to the HOPE Center with a history of involvement with Duke. In addition to attending the History of Economics conference held here in 2003, Michaël has since 2011 been working with William Darity Jr. on a project on expectations; the two plan to present a paper at the HES meetings in Vancouver this summer. And just this past summer Michaël co-organized a conference in Nice on the history of macroeconomics at which Kevin Hoover was a key speaker.

For Michaël, who is a professor at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, his fellowship year at the HOPE Center has afforded him a radically new experience regarding his work on the history of economics. Taking advantage of the abundant holdings in the Economists’ Papers Project, Michaël has been using archival material in his current research project, which deals with expectations and the recent history of growth and cycle theories, paying attention to the papers of Solow, Modigliani, Domar, and Samuelson.

Michaël has particularly benefited from examining Solow’s correspondence. The letters reveal that Solow’s goal since the 1950s has been to establish and promote among other economists a research agenda centered on medium-run macroeconomics.

“What I love here is the access to all those unpublished documents that add a lot to the published record. Right now, I’m still figuring out what the important letters are and in what context we should understand them, especially those between the major players in my story.”

Michaël sees his stay at the Center as an opportunity to enrich his approach to the history of economics. His previous work, much of which focused on the Polish economist Michal Kalecki, dealt with the analytical components of economics. Here, he is learning to combine that with an attention to context. “Both approaches complement each other, I believe; I want to test that, to work that out. Combining the two approaches into a single investigation is what’s exciting to me right now. To me, that’s the holy grail of doing history.”

Coming from Paris, which is of course a densely populated city, Michaël is impressed by all the space he has here in North Carolina. During his year at the Center he is living with his wife, Marjolaine, who is a lawyer in Paris, and their two sons, Pierre (8) and Victor (4), in a house between Durham and Wake Forest.

“After a couple of weeks, you see that in most respects life is not so different. But what is different is the architecture and organization of the city, the way we move and travel here from one point to another. That may be the biggest difference between here and France. My family and I went to Florida, and we were surprised to see that it was very easy to go from state to state. I appreciate that a lot.”

Michaël and his family will return to Paris in August 2013.

--Paul Dudenhefer