Carl F. Christ, noted Johns Hopkins economist

Carl F. Christ, a noted Johns Hopkins University economist whose career spanned more than four decades and who during World War II worked on the Manhattan Project, died Friday of complications from prostate cancer at Roland Park Place.

He was 93.

"Carl Christ was one of the leading figures in the world on macroeconomics and econometrics, and was clearly one of the most distinguished senior faculty members at the time," said Louis J. Maccini, who retired from Johns Hopkins in 2013, where he had served as chair of the economics department from 1992 to 2007.

"We have been colleagues and friends for almost 50 years, and it was Carl who hired me at Hopkins in 1969," he said.

"An important ingredient about Carl was that he was a very constructive person, and his comments and opinions were always constructively offered to students and colleagues," he said. "When I came to Hopkins, he treated me equally as a colleague, and I appreciated that. It was a key element of his personality that he was always helpful and constructive."

The son of Jay Finley Christ, a professor in the business school of the University of Chicago, and Maud Trego Christ, an educator and suffragette, Carl Finley Christ was born and raised in Chicago and was a graduate of the University of Chicago Laboratories School, a high school. He attended Colorado College for two years.

He was a 1943 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Chicago, where he earned a degree in physics.

From 1943 to 1945, he worked as a junior physicist for the Manhattan Project, which led to the development of the atomic bomb.

After his wartime work with the Manhattan Project, Dr. Christ decided to use his mathematics acumen to achieve peaceful ends.

"During World War II, I lived in a house of pacifists while I was working on the atom bomb. I wanted to do something that had to do with human problems," he once told the Johns Hopkins News-Letter.

After serving as an instructor in physics at Princeton University from 1945 to 1946, he returned to the University of Chicago, where he earned a Ph.D. in economics.

"Although his economic training was in the 'Chicago School,' he never believed that economic efficiency was a higher goal than social justice," wrote a daughter, Alice Christ of Lexington, Ky.

He joined the Hopkins faculty in 1950 as an assistant professor and in 1953 was named assistant professor of political economy.

Dr. Christ was a senior Fulbright research scholar at the University of Cambridge from 1954 to 1955.

Dr. Christ left Homewood in 1955 when he became an associate professor of economics at the University of Chicago, where he taught until 1961. He then returned to Hopkins as professor of political economy.

He was department chair from 1961 to 1966, and again from 1969 to 1970, and in 1977 was appointed to the Abram G. Hutzler professorship in political economy.

"Dr. Christ was a trailblazer in the field of econometrics, where statistical analysis puts economic theories to the test. In the late 1960s, he wrote one of the first textbooks on the subject, a book that became a standard text used for decades in economics courses worldwide," according to a Johns Hopkins news release announcing his death.

The book, "Econometric Models and Methods," was published in 1966. He was a contributor to the International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, Volume IV, which was published in 1968; "Simultaneous Equations Estimation," 1994; and "Econometrics, Macroeconomics and Economic Policy" in 1996.

In 1998, the Journal of Econometrics honored Dr. Christ with a special issue that contained articles from "friends, colleagues and professional admirers of his life's work," and recognized him for the "beauty" of his work.

Dr. Christ also pioneered the use of computers to test econometric models. His field of specialties included monetary and fiscal policy, especially government budget restraint.

"He is particularly interested in what is known as the government budget restraint, which involves the three ways the government can raise funds when it spends money — taxing, borrowing or printing more money," reported The Baltimore Sun in a 1981 article.

"Dr. Christ conceded that it is impossible to develop an economic theory that describes human behavior as well as scientific theory can describe the behavior of molecules," according to the article.

In addition to his four books, he wrote more than 40 articles in journals and books, as well as in more than 60 other publications, including The Sun, regarding economic matters.

Dr. Christ was the recipient in 1985 of the George E. Owen Teaching Award, presented by Hopkins students for outstanding teaching and devotion to undergraduates.

His courses on macro- and microeconomics, government financial policy and the stock market were popular among students at the Homewood campus.

In 2008, Hopkins established a professorship in his honor at the Center for Financial Economics.

Dr. Christ began a phased-in retirement in 1989 and fully retired in 2009.

"According to department secretary Donna Altoff, he continued to show an exceptional level of interest in the students, and loved to talk to them and took interest in their job searches until the end," wrote another daughter, Lucy Christ Smith of Seattle, in an email.

He and his wife of 66 years, the former Phyllis Tatsch, were former residents of Juniper Road in Guilford and moved to Roland Park Place in 2006. He remained active on many university committees and boards and even performed in several theatrical productions at Johns Hopkins and the Hamilton Street Club.

He was an active member of The Oldtimers, an informal club for retired Hopkins faculty and staff, where he planned meetings, discussed menus and sent out notices to the membership.

Dr. Christ served as a member of the Maryland Governor's Council of Economic Advisers and helped the Urban League by drafting brochures in financial topics with such articles as how to purchase a house with affordable mortgage payments.

At Roland Park Place, he served as a member of the investment advisory and hospitality committees.

He also regularly participated in a weekly protest staged by residents along 40th Street in front of Roland Park Place, where he could be spotted carrying a sign that read "War is not the answer."

He and his wife were avid catamaran sailors and windsurfers, and since 1933, he had spent summers on Lake Michigan at Williams Grove and Harbert Woods.

Dr. Christ donated his body to the Maryland Anatomy Board, and plans for a memorial service aare incomplete.

In addition to his wife and two daughters, he is survived by another daughter, Joan Christ of Seattle; and five grandchildren.

frasmussen@baltsun.com

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