In memoriam Professor Ronald W. Jones, University of Rochester and Visiting Professor at the University of Basel

With sadness and, at the same time, great thankfulness, we bid farewell to Professor Ronald W. Jones who passed away on September 27, 2022. Both myself, and many of my PhD  and  Master students in the graduate trade class at the University of Basel learned so much from him over many years: his fundamental insights into trade theory (e.g., the “Trade in Middle Products” paper (AER) shown on the blackboard behind him on the picture above taken in 2005), his great ability to simplify things in his models in order to bring the main driving forces to the surface, as well as his way of communicating complex issues to an audience so that one could understand – his insights and abilities remain unparalleled. His passion and love for international trade theory were extremely inspiring and the discussions with him will be missed so much. 

A colleague of mine once told me that “Ron became a rock star” when his 1965 paper on “The Structure of Simple General Equilibrium Models” (JPE) had come out. It was fundamental to many subsequent contributions in international trade. Even though Ron Jones was, of course, convinced about what he did, his mind was constantly driven by deepening our understanding. He once said to me: “I think I have a comparative advantage: I know if I do not know.” And commenting on his research, in general, he said: “Trying to make things more simple has always been a driving force of what I have been doing.” (WWZnewsletter 02’2015).

Professor Ronald Jones was a giant, a world-class scholar in international trade theory. He shared his insights in more than 180 articles published in scientific journals, well-known and widely read books (particularly his undergraduate textbook “World Trade and Payments”) as well as lectures given by him all over the world. His "purple book" on "Globalization and the Theory of Input Trade" (given as part of the Ohlin Lecture Series and published by MIT Press in 2000) brought together some of his recent contributions in the area of the fragmentation process and outsourcing and inspired many others who further developed the ideas.

I am deeply grateful that I had the opportunity to meet Ron and that he regularly came to the University of Basel to give a lecture series on his work as part of my graduate trade class. Most of all, it was a privilege for me to jointly organize and run a conference in May 2017 with distinguished trade economists and to publish together the book on “200 Years of Ricardian Trade Theory. Challenges of Globalization (Springer)” in 2017, exactly 200 years after David Ricardo had published his ingenious chapter “On Foreign Trade” we both always admired.

We will always keep Ron Jones in the best memory!


Rolf Weder
Professor of International Economics and European Integration

Ronald Jones remembered for landmark work in international economics, visit the obituary at the University of Rochester.
Ronald Jones, a giant of international trade, visit the obituary at the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR).

Memories at the University of Basel, documented in published newsletters: