Charles P. Kindleberger, an economic historian and expert on international monetary affairs who also helped formulate the Marshall Plan for the rebuilding of Europe after World War II, has died. He was 92.
Kindleberger, an emeritus professor of economics at MIT and a widely published author, died Monday of a stroke at a hospital in Cambridge, Mass.
"He was both an outstanding economic historian and a respected applied economist who made major contributions to the thinking on key issues for generations," John Williamson, an economist with the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for International Economics, told a reporter for Bloomberg News.
In his influential career, Kindleberger wrote more than 30 books, including "International Economics," a 1953 work that went through five editions during its more than two decades of use as a standard text in economics.
A more recent book, "Manias, Panics and Crashes," traced four centuries of boom-and-bust financial cycles, bringing to light a 1636 bubble in the market for Dutch tulips that sent investors offering land, houses, farm animals and gold in return for fancy tulip bulbs.
A reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement in London wrote that Kindleberger "is by far the most entertaining writer on financial history still at work today. He is also far and away the most erudite."
Born in New York City, Kindleberger graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and earned his master's degree and doctorate from Columbia University.
Before World War II, he worked as an economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of New York City. When the U.S. entered the war, he served in the Office of Strategic Services, a forerunner of the CIA. He later served in the 12th Army Group in Europe as an intelligence officer.
In the early postwar years, he was a key advisor on German reparations, and served as chief of the committee that prepared cost estimates for the European Recovery Program, also known as the Marshall Plan.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which announced Kindleberger's death, cited an interview he once gave recounting his experience working on the Marshall Plan, named for Army Gen. George C. Marshall, the postwar secretary of State under President Truman.
"We were conscious of a great sense of excitement about the plan," Kindleberger said. "Marshall himself was a great, great man -- funny, odd, but great -- Olympian in his moral quality. We'd stay up all night, night after night.... I had a tremendous sense of gratification for working so hard on it."
Kindleberger joined the MIT faculty in 1948 as an associate professor of economics. He became a full professor three years later, and eventually held the Ford International Professor of Economics chair. He retired in 1976.
Kindleberger served on President Johnson's Committee on International Monetary Arrangements in the 1960s. Also in the '60s, he helped develop economics programs and course offerings at five black colleges in Atlanta. He was a member of the United Negro College Fund and a trustee of Clark College in Atlanta.
Kindleberger also held posts with the Bank of International Settlements in Switzerland and the board of governors of the American Economic Assn.
He is survived by four children and five grandchildren.