Edward Hugh, a freethinking and wide-ranging British economist who gave early warnings about theEuropean debt crisis from his adopted home in Barcelona, died on Tuesday, his birthday, in Girona, Spain. He was 67.
The cause was cancer of the gallbladder and liver, his son, Morgan Jones, said.
Mr. Hugh drew attention in 2009 and 2010 for his blog postspointing out flaws at the root of Europe’s ambition to bind together disparate cultures and economies with a single currency, the euro.
In clear, concise essays, adorned with philosophical musings and colorful graphics, Mr. Hugh insisted time and again that economists and policy makers were glossing over the extent to which swift austerity measures in countries like Greece, Ireland, Spain and Portugal would result in devastating recessions.
Mr. Hugh’s insights soon attracted a wide and influential following, including hedge funds, economists, finance ministers and analysts at the International Monetary Fund.
“For those of us pessimists who believed that the eurozone structure was leading to an unsustainable bubble in the periphery countries, Edward Hugh was a must-read,” said Albert Edwards, a strategist based in London for the French bank Société Générale. “His prescience in explaining the mechanics of the crisis went almost unnoticed until it actually hit.”
As the eurozone’s economic problems grew, so did Mr. Hugh’s popularity, and by 2011 he had moved the base of his operations to Facebook. There he attracted many thousands of additional followers from all over the world.
If Santa Claus and John Maynard Keynes could combine as one, he might well be Edward Hugh. He was roly-poly and merry, and he always had a twinkle in his eye, not least when he came across a data point or the hint of an economic or social trend that would support one of his many theories.
His intellect was too restless to be pigeonholed, but when pressed he would say that he saw himself as a Keynesian in spirit, but not letter. And in tune with his view that economists in general had become too wedded to static economic models and failed their obligation to predict and explain, he frequently cited this quote from Keynes:
“Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past, the ocean is flat again.”
Edward Hugh Bengree-Jones was born in Liverpool, England, on Dec. 29, 1948. He moved to London and received an undergraduate degree from the London School of Economics. He pursued his doctoral studies at Victoria University in Manchester, although he never completed them.
In an interview with The New York Times in 2010, Mr. Hugh said that his interests were too many for him to buckle down and actually earn a doctorate in a single topic. He read widely and relentlessly, becoming an expert on a variety of matters like demography, migration,independent cinema and the social tendencies of the bonobo.
Throughout the 1970s and 1980s he bounced from job to job, mostly in education, taking on projects such as teaching English to Chilean refugees.
In 1990 he moved to Barcelona, after having fallen in love with the city’s multicultural flair during a holiday visit. He quickly became fluent in both Spanish and Catalan and decided that Barcelona would become his home.
He would also become a champion of Catalonia’s push for independence and was an informal adviser to senior Catalan politicians, including Artur Mas, the leader of the movement’s main party.
While Mr. Hugh’s pointed pen often ruffled feathers, especially in Spain, he did become a local celebrity of sorts. He was a regular presence in the papers and appeared frequently on television, where he would expound for hours in Spanish and Catalan.
On occasion his prognostications were overly pessimistic, and Spain’s surprisingly quick economic recovery was an event that he, along with many others, did not foresee.
Until this summer, when his cancer worsened, he would spend his days posting daily economic snippets on Facebook, digging deep into independent films from around the world, and having long, lazy lunches with local notables and friends.
That he never finished his doctorate or wrote his great work never truly bothered him, he said in his interview with The Times.
“The last time I was asked what it was I ‘did,’ I replied rather cantankerously, that I don’t do, I think,” he recalled.
Besides his son Morgan, his survivors include a brother, David, and a half sister Anne.
Sidney W. Mintz, a renowned cultural anthropologist who provocatively linked Britain’s insatiable sweet tooth with slavery, capitalism and imperialism, died on Sunday in Plainsboro, N.J. He was 93.
The cause was a severe head injury from a fall, his wife, Jacqueline Mintz, said.
Professor Mintz was often described as the father of food anthropology, a mantle bestowed on him after the critical and popular success of his 1985 book, “Sweetness and Power: The Place of Sugar in Modern History.”
Even before that, though, he had stretched the academic boundaries of anthropology beyond the study of aboriginal peoples. (He joked about those who believed that “if they don’t have blowguns and you can’t catch malaria, it’s not anthropology.”)
His groundbreaking fieldwork in the Caribbean was the basis of his book “Worker in the Cane: A Puerto Rican Life History” in 1960, in which he profiled the rural proletariat — the “millions of people in the world, nearly all of them people of color, working at ghastly jobs producing basic commodities, mostly for consumers in the West,” as he described them to the journal American Anthropologist last year.
Professor Mintz also explored the legacy of language and religion that slaves took with them from Africa. He was instrumental in creating a black studies curriculum at Yale University in the early 1970s before joining Johns Hopkins University, where he helped found its anthropology department in 1975 and became professor emeritus in 1997.
The son of a restaurateur and an amateur chef himself, Professor Mintz was best known beyond the academy and his own kitchen for his Marxian perspective on the growing demand for sugar in Britain, beginning in the 17th century.
In his view, that hunger shaped empires, spawned industrial-like plantations in the Caribbean and South America that presaged capitalism and globalization, enslaved and decimated indigenous populations, and engendered navies to protect trade while providing a sweetener to the wealthy and a cheap source of energy to industrial workers.
“There was no conspiracy at work to wreck the nutrition of the British working class, to turn them into addicts or ruin their teeth,” Professor Mintz wrote in “Sweetness and Power.” “But the ever-rising consumption of sugar was an artifact of interclass struggles for profit — struggles that eventuated in a world market solution for drug food, as industrial capitalism cut its protectionist losses and expanded a mass market to satisfy proletarian consumers once regarded as sinful or indolent.”
He added, “No wonder the rich and powerful liked it so much, and no wonder the poor learned to love it.”
Professor Mintz was as much at home in the 21st century as he was in the 17th. In “Sweetness and Power” he observed that Americans were consuming more by multitasking, writing, “Watching the Cowboys play the Steelers while eating Fritos and drinking Coca-Cola, while smoking a joint, while one’s girl sits on one’s lap, can be packing a great deal of experience into a short time and thereby maximizing enjoyment.”
Sidney Wilfred Mintz was born on Nov. 16, 1922, in Dover, N.J., the son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. His father, Solomon, was a dye maker who became a clothing salesman. His mother, the former Fanny Tulchin, was a seamstress and an organizer for the Industrial Workers of the World. (By the time the group was banned by the government as radical, he said, “she was married and organizing only her kids.”)
His father was a dishwasher in a diner before buying it and converting it into “the only restaurant in the world where the customer was always wrong,” Professor Mintz said. (Its previous owner had been enticed to purchase a Ferris wheel and left town with a carnival.) The diner went bust during the Depression.
“Very early I became interested in how people acquired, prepared, cooked and served food, and that all came from my father,” Professor Mintz told American Anthropologist. “I came by my interest in food honestly; feeding people had become what my father did for a living. As I grew, I was able to help.”
But when he was home from college during summers, Professor Mintz gorged on breakfast after his overnight shift at the local military arsenal — so much so, he said, that his father complained that “our financial security as a family would remain at risk until I moved out or lost my appetite.”
He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Brooklyn College in 1943, taught celestial navigation in the Army Air Forces during World War II and received a doctorate in anthropology from Columbia University.
Like his father, he did most of the cooking at home. In addition to his wife, the former Jacqueline Wei, with whom he lived in Cockeysville, Md., he is survived by two children from an earlier marriage, Eric Mintz and Elizabeth Nickens; and two grandchildren.
In 1996, Professor Mintz wrote “Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom: Excursions Into Eating, Culture and the Past,” in which he maintained that Americans did not have a national cuisine. What they share, he said, is a “lively appreciation of sin,” which manifests itself in an obsession with dieting
He also complained about the eating habits of too many people today.
“We appear to be capable of eating (and liking) just about anything that is not immediately toxic,” he wrote in “Sweetness and Power.” “What constitutes ‘good food,’ like what constitutes good weather, a good spouse or a fulfilling life, is a social, not a biological matter.”