William C. Hood (Bill)
Bill Hood, who served as Economic Counsellor and Director of Research at the IMF from 1979 to 1986, passed away peacefully on May 15, 2014 in Vienna, Virginia, at the age of 92. Through his 28 years of retirement, he led a quietly happy life, much as he had throughout a distinguished and multi-faceted career for more than three decades.
Bill was born in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, in September 1921. He graduated from Mount Allison University and the University of Toronto (where he earned a Ph.D. in economics). He then attended the University of Chicago as a post-doctorate fellow. From 1946 to 1964, Bill was a professor of economics at the University of Toronto. While there, he made a lasting contribution by co-authoring an oft-cited paper on econometric theory with Tjalling Koopmans (the famous Dutch economist, then at the University of Chicago, who later won the 1975 Nobel Prize in economics) and by co-editing the book Studies in Econometric Method (1953), also with Koopmans.
Bill switched to public service in Canada in 1964, beginning with a stint at the Bank of Canada and culminating with his appointment as Deputy Minister of Finance in 1979. Later that year, following a change in government, Bill replaced the retiring Jacques J. Polak and became the Fund’s third Director of Research. On retirement, he spent the rest of his life in the Washington area, where he and his late wife Mary (to whom he was married for 50 years) could remain close to their two children and four grandchildren.
Bill’s highly successful career was masked by his modest and unassuming demeanor. When he was appointed Deputy Minister, an unnamed former official was quoted as saying, “He may be technically the best economist in the country, but if someone hadn’t told me how brilliant the guy was, I would never have known it.” At the IMF, he had the reputational misfortune of following two larger-than-life legends, Eddie Bernstein and Jacques Polak, and then being followed by economists who by now are even more well-known, starting with Jacob Frenkel and Mike Mussa. Nonetheless, his time at the Fund was marked by a substantial increase in the role and reputation of the Research Department, especially through the conversion of the World Economic Outlook from a secret annual internal report into the Fund’s flagship publication. Most importantly, one could not have hoped to work for a nicer man.
—James Boughton and Hugh Young