The opening line of Myerson’s obituary for  John Harsanyi reads:

When a scholar publishes a paper, it is a letter sent to unknown recipients.

It is in this way I first met Lionel McKenzie. A curiosity, I suppose, of those in service of reason’s empire. We meet on the page first and in person later. It is from McKenzie that I first learnt the difference between economic theory and mathematics. The stalking horse for the lesson is the existence of Walrasian equilibrium. Which is a more general model: one with decreasing returns to scale or one with constant returns to scale in the production function? Mathematically, the first. But, the first is also an implicit constraint on entrepreneurial activity. Thus, the second could be considered more general.

Mckenzie passed away in October 2010. I was reminded of him recently by two incidents. The first, was the occasion of a memorial conference at the U of Rochester two weeks ago. Whilst aware of his contributions to GE, I was not aware of the `murderer’s row’ of students he had `fathered’. The second, an interesting paper by Weintraub on the `race’ for priority for existence of Walrasian equilibrium in which McKenzie plays a prominent role. For those with an interest in how credit is or is not apportioned as well as how history is recorded (or not), it makes for a fascinating read….particularly when the names of referees are mentioned!