Charles R. Morris, Iconoclastic Author on Economics, Dies at 82

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Among his other books were “A Rabble of Dead Money: The Great Crash and the Global Depression: 1929-1939 (2017); “Comeback: America’s New Economic Boom” (2013); “The Sages: Warren Buffett, George Soros, Paul Volcker, and the Maelstrom of Markets” (2009); “The Trillion Dollar Meltdown” (2008); “The Surgeons: Life and Death in a Top Heart Center (2007),” which dissects the cost of care to the public and to practitioners; “American Catholic: The Saints and Sinners Who Built America’s Most Powerful Church” (1997); and “The Tycoons: How Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and J.P. Morgan Invented the American Supereconomy” (2005).

Assessing “The Tycoons” in The Times Book Review, Todd G. Buchholz, a former economics adviser to President George H.W. Bush, wrote of Mr. Morris, “I admired his drive to delve into competing theories of the Great Depression, sleeves rolled up, digging evenhandedly into the muck of academic research and the tumbleweed of the Dust Bowl.”

Rarely allowing himself to be typecast, Mr. Morris would debunk what he called the conservative conventional wisdom that raising the minimum wage costs jobs. He complained in the Jesuit magazine America that the nation’s existing health care system benefits the wealthiest Americans. In an interview on the business blog bobmorris.biz in 2012, he criticized graduate schools of business.

“Business schools tend to focus on topics that are suitable to blackboards, so they overemphasize organization and finance,” Mr. Morris said. “Until very recently, they virtually ignored manufacturing. I think a lot of the troubles of the 1970s and 1980s, and now more recently the 2000s, can be traced pretty directly to the biases of the business schools.”

In “The Trillion Dollar Meltdown: Easy Money, High Rollers and the Great Credit Crash” (2008), which won the Gerald Loeb Award for business reporting, Mr. Morris precisely predicted the collapse of the investment bank Bear Stearns and the ensuing global recession.

He wrote the book in 2007, when most experts were still expressing optimism about the economy. He also appeared in the Oscar-winning documentary “Inside Job” (2010) about the 2008 financial crisis.

“I think we’re heading for the mother of all crashes,” Mr. Morris wrote his publisher, Peter Osnos, the founder of Public Affairs books, early in 2007, adding, “It will happen in summer of 2008, I think.”

Mr. Osnos recalled that after the book was published, “George Soros and Paul Volcker called me and asked, ‘Who is this Morris, and how did he get this so right, so early?’”

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