David Cass is undoubtedly one of the central contributors to modern dynamic
economics. His fundamental contributions include work on optimal growth
problems, overlapping-generations models, sunspot equilibria, and general
equilibrium models with incomplete markets. His research has shaped in
profound ways the manner in which we do both micro- and macroeconomics.
From laying the foundations of real business-cycle theory via the
Cass-Koopmans model, to providing us with general tools and techniques to
analyze dynamic economic models, to furthering our understanding of
monetary economics, to making fundamental contributions to the economics of
extrinsic uncertainty, Cass's work has played a major part in the
development of much of modern macroeconomic theory. In addition to being a
first-class scholar, Cass is also truly his own man and a free spirit of
the highest order.
In this interview, we tried to gain some insights into the story of David
Cass and his approach to economic theory. Also, given the title as well as
the intended readership of Macroeconomic Dynamics, we made a real effort
to get him to discuss modern macroeconomics and the influence his work has
had on its development. We edited out some parts of the discussion in the
interests of space, but what remains is essentially unedited. As most
readers will know, David Cass has collaborated extensively with Karl Shell
over the years. We talked to Shell a few weeks after talking to Cass, and
that interview is scheduled to appear in a future issue.
We met with Dave in his office at the University of Pennsylvania's
Economics Department just before noon. Amid the boxes and piles of
articles, books and CD's, he sat in his standard jeans and T-shirt, looking
about as disheveled as he usually does. We chatted there for a while,
went out and continued over lunch, and
then returned to complete the
interview several hours later. It was an unseasonably warm day in
February, and Friday the 13th to be exact. That is traditionally
an unlucky day, but one that turned out in this case to be a real
treat, at least for us! We hope that you get as much out of this conversation with
Dave as we did.