January 2017 newsletter – Michael A Crew

Michael A Crew, a widely regarded and influential regulatory economist, died peacefully at his home after a short illness on September 26, 2016, aged seventy-four. He was a Distinguished Professor and the CRRI Professor of Regulatory Economics at the Rutgers Business School, where he served for 40 years. Born in Sedgley, England, Professor Crew attended Dudley Grammar School. He received his BCom. from the University of Birmingham and his PhD from the University of Bradford. He first moved to the United States in 1968 when he served on the faculty of Carnegie Mellon University. He subsequently taught at the Paisley College of Technology, the Universities of Southampton, Kent and Strathclyde, the London Business School, Harvard University and Wesleyan University before joining Rutgers in 1977.

Michael was one of the founders and served as Executive Editor, Joint Editor, and Editor of the journal Applied Economics which continues today as a forum for economic research on applied problems in the public and private sectors. In 1988, he founded and served as the editor of the Journal of Regulatory Economics, a globally recognized journal addressing all aspects of the economics of regulation. Michael placed particular importance on informing authors of referees’ decisions quickly. In 2015, the average response time was 25 days. At Rutgers, he founded the Center for Research in Regulated Industries (CRRI), a research center promoting collaboration between industry and academia to address and solve regulatory problems in areas including utilities, energy, the postal service and the environment. He organized hundreds of workshops and conferences through the CRRI bringing together economists from regulatory agencies, industry, and academia to discuss regulatory issues.

Michael was a prolific author, authoring well over 100 refereed articles and books and editing volumes of work from the CRRI conferences. His articles included numerous appearances in the Economic Journal, and many other leading journals, including the American Economic Review, the Journal of Political Economy, and the Quarterly Journal of Economics. Most notable is his pioneering work on peak-load pricing issues in public utilities. He was also a prodigious collaborator, publishing papers with over two-dozen co-authors. His principal partnership with his long-time and great friend Paul Kleindorfer resulted in more than 70 papers, three books and numerous edited conference volumes. Their research covered topics including peak load pricing issues in public utilities and postal services, rate of return regulation, governance costs, and price cap regulation. Further, he co-authored papers with Charles Rowley which examined public policy implications of deregulation, and rent-seeking and public choice approaches to regulation and deregulation.

Michael’s influence was also felt in the business and policy spheres. He advised numerous postal operators, including the Royal Mail, Deutsche Post and Canada Post. He worked frequently with policy makers at various levels of government on a wide range of issues. Most notably, he provided testimony to the United States Congress and the President’s Commission on the U.S. Postal Service. Fittingly, this service was recognized recently. In 2015, the California Public Utilities Commission passed a resolution recognizing his contributions to regulation, and he received a Rutgers Business School Lifetime Achievement Award in 2016. As Stephen Littlechild wrote in remembering Michael, ‘His contribution to fostering research and informed debate on regulation was probably without parallel in the US. Michael himself was a regulatory institution, and we shall all miss his enthusiasm, friendship and support.’

Nicholas I Crew, Analysis Group, Inc.
San Francisco.
Andrew Mearman,
University of Leeds.