Balogh, Thomas, Baron Balogh 1905-1985, political economist, was born in Budapest 2 November 1905, the elder son and elder child of Emil Balogh, director of the Transport Board, Budapest, and his wife, Eva, daughter of Professor Bernard Levy, of Berlin and Budapest. He was educated in the Modelgymnasium in Budapest, from which so many other distinguished emigré Hungarians graduated. After studying law and economics at the universities of Budapest and Berlin, he went in 1928 to America for two years as a Rockefeller fellow at Harvard University.
He served in the research departments of the Banque de France, the Reichsbank, and the Federal Reserve before he went to England. J. M. (later Lord) Keynes [qv.], who once said he could hear more of what was going on from Balogh in an hour or two than he himself could pick up during several days in London, published his first article in the Economic Journal and helped him to his first job in England with the banking firm of O. T. Falk & Co. in 1932.
While a lecturer at University College, London, between 1934 and 1940, he wrote for the National Institute of Economic and Social Research his Studies in Financial Organization (1947). He was naturalized in 1938. Against high-level opposition he went, in 1939, to Balliol College, Oxford, as a lecturer. In 1945 he was elected to a fellowship, which he held until 1973, and in 1960 became a university reader. He was one of the founding members of the Institute of Statistics at Oxford.
In the 1950s Balogh turned his attention increasingly to the problems of the underdeveloped countries. As adviser to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1957-9) he used an afforestation project to design a series of ambitious development plans for the countries round the Mediterranean. Planting trees remained one of his hobbies. The demand of Dominic Mintoff (then prime minister of Malta) for integration with the United Kingdom appealed particularly to Balogh's economic philosophy, and he was deeply disappointed when the negotiations failed.
Harold Wilson (later Lord Wilson of Rievaulx) worked with Balogh throughout the 1950s and early 1960s and in particular on the preparation for the 1964 election. One of Balogh's lines of argument was that a Labour government would be heavily committed to a policy of faster growth, sustained by a strong incomes policy and supported by more state intervention in industry. He thought that the Treasury would not be capable of carrying out such a policy and this led to the call for a separate Ministry of Expansion or Planning. These ideas were the origin of the Department of Economic Affairs.
After Labour's victory in October 1964, Balogh was brought into the Cabinet Office as adviser on economic affairs, with special reference to external economic policy. Some of Balogh's greatest contributions in Whitehall stemmed more from his uncanny knowledge of everything that was going on than from contributions to committee work, where his criticisms, though scintillating, were too radical. When Wilson's government was defeated in June 1970 he retained his close personal contacts with Harold Wilson, spent more time in Oxford at both Balliol and Queen Elizabeth House, and returned to writing.
Balogh retired from his Oxford readership in 1973 and became a fellow emeritus of Balliol, and a Leverhulme fellow (1973-6). But he was about to enter a new career. In 1974 he was made a minister of state at the Department of Energy and, as a life peer, which he had been created in 1968, its spokesman in the House of Lords. The theme of his maiden speech was the need for a tougher incomes policy, while investment and innovation were carried out, and for stricter foreign exchange controls. He played a key role in the creation of the British National Oil Corporation and became its deputy chairman (1976-8).
He was awarded an honorary doctorate by his old university, Budapest, in 1979, and an honorary degree by York University, Toronto. He married in 1945 Penelope (died 1975), daughter of the Revd Henry Bernard Tower, vicar of Swinbrook, Oxfordshire, and widow of Oliver Gatty. She became a distinguished psychotherapist and they had two sons and a daughter (there was also a daughter from the previous marriage). This marriage was dissolved in 1970. In the same year he married Catherine, daughter of Arthur Cole, barrister, Lincoln's Inn. She was a psychologist and prolific author, particularly of children's books, and previously the wife of (Charles) Anthony Storr, psychiatrist, by whom she had three daughters.
Balogh had a flamboyant mind and considerable moral courage. He was neither a systematic thinker nor a popular figure, indeed he seemed to court hostility. To his friends he showed unbounded loyalty. He died 20 January 1985 at his home in Hampstead, London.
Contributor: Paul Streeten