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Lawrence Klein, 93, Nobel Prize Economist

October 30, 2013 By:
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Lawrence R. Klein

Lawrence R. Klein, 93, the 1980 Nobel Prize-winning economist whose innovations in fiscal forecasting changed the way many of the world’s nations anticipated their financial futures, died Oct. 20.

He lived in Gladwyne.

The Wharton School of Business professor — and founder of Wharton Econometric Forecasting Associates Inc. — had a deep impact on many of today’s economists; his explication of the role interest rates had on functions of economy was an eye-opener for many in the field.

It was growing up during the Great Depression that reportedly had a major impact on Klein, a native of Omaha, Neb. 

A much-published economist — and winner of the coveted John Bates Clark Medal in 1959 — he was voted a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

A graduate of Los Angeles City College, the University of California, Berkley, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Klein’s trend-setting forecasts were predicated on his fascination with economic trends broadened by his college education. 

The Midwesterner’s first eco­nomic model was accomplished when he was involved with the Cowles Commission for Research in Economics, based at the University of Chicago, where his forecasts of post-World War II economy were on the money. 

It may have been more difficult to predict the nation’s social ills after the war, however; a member of the Communist Party in the ’40s, he vacated to England in 1954 and a position at

the University of Oxford, living abroad for the next four years while this nation was seized by Joe McCar­thy’s anti-communist agenda.

At Oxford, he continued his landmark work on economic forecast models. Upon his return to the United States in 1958, Klein arrived at the University of Pennsylvania, becoming part of its economic department; he was later named Wharton’s Ben­­jamin Franklin Professor of Economics and Finance.

He was heralded for creating the Whar­­ton Econometric Fore­casting Model.

Although he served Jimmy Carter during the erstwhile pea­nut farmer’s presidential campaign in 1976, Klein turned down an offer to become part of the administration’s economic team. 

A 1976 interview with Klein in People Magazine described Klein as “not a practicing Jew,” but quoted the economist as “very involved with the state of Israel and other Jewish affairs.”

Klein and his wife reportedly traveled to Israel often. Indeed, during 1964 he spent time in Jerusalem as a lecturer at Hebrew University; he also had been a board member of the city’s Folk Institute. 

He is survived by his wife, the former Sonia Adelson; three daughters, Rebecca Kennedy, Hannah and Rachel; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

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