Oliver M. W. Sprague
|Died||May 24, 1953 (aged 80)|
|Spouse(s)||Fanny Knights Ide|
|Children||Katherine Ida Sprague|
Theodore Wentworth Sprague
|Parent(s)||William Wallace Sprague |
Miriam Wentworth Sprague
|Alma mater||Harvard University|
|Thesis||The English Woolen Industry in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries|
|Doctoral advisor||William Ashley[a]|
|Sub-discipline||Fiscal policy, central banking|
Imperial University of Tokyo
Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration
Oliver Mitchell Wentworth Sprague (April 22, 1873 – May 24, 1953) was an American economist and president of the American Economic Association in 1937. His research focused on fiscal policy and central banking.
Sprague was born to William Wallace (1842–1912), a businessman, and Miriam Sprague (née Wentworth) on April 22, 1873, in Somerville, Massachusetts. He attended St. Johnsbury Academy and graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1894. He went on to further study at Harvard, receiving an AM in 1896 and PhD in political science in 1897.
After a year of study in England, Sprague was made Austin Teaching Fellow in political economy, a one-year fixed-term position, at Harvard College in fall 1899.[b] He became instructor in political economy in 1900[c] and was promoted to assistant professor of economics in 1904. The Imperial University of Tokyo appointed him as a full professor of economics in 1905, where he stayed until 1908 when he returned to Harvard as an assistant professor of banking and finance at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration. He was made Edmund Cogswell Converse Professor of Banking and Finance in 1913, a post he held until his retirement in 1941.
He was elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1931 and member of the American Philosophical Society in 1938.
He served on the editorial board of the Quarterly Journal of Economics from 1909 to 1920.
Sprague held numerous advisory roles throughout his career. The Bank of England appointed him Chief Economist from 1930 to 1933; he was the second American to occupy this role.[d] He also advised the Reichsbank, the Bank of France, the Bank for International Settlements, and the League of Nations. He was a member of the League's Gold Delegation, which promoted the Gold Standard.
Following his stint at the Bank of England, he served as assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury in 1933, a role he left the same year due to disagreement over the optimal path to recovery for the US economy.
He used his expertise for various positions in the private sector too. He was a director of the National Shawmut Bank and a foreign exchange advisor to the General Motors Corporation. He died in Boston, aged 80.
Sprague married Fanny Knights Ide[e] in 1905. They had two children, Katherine Ida and Theodore Wentworth Sprague.[f] He had four siblings: Charles Wentworth, Maude, Arthur and William. The number of publications he could author was limited by his poor eyesight.