Wednesday October 29, 2014
A friend of mine is studying economics for her MBA, and came across the Phillips Curve (relating inflation with unemployment). As a diversion she researched him through our book and found, as we did, the amazing story of William Housego Phillips.
He was quite an adventurer, spending time in China and the Soviet Union as a young man, working as a crocodile hunter and a gold miner, and eventually joining the RAF and fighting in Singapore. Phillips was captured and spent three and a half years as a prisoner of war in Indonesia. There he learned Chinese from other prisoners, and endeared himself to everyone by building secret water boilers to make tea. He powered his boilers by hooking them into the lighting system: the guards would wonder why the camp lights always dimmed around about eight each night. He also repaired and miniaturised a secret radio. After the war, he was awarded an OBE for his military service.
Phillips has been described as the Indiana Jones of economics...