Michael Bruno
Michael Peter Bruno (born 30 July 1932; died 25 December 1996) was an Israeli
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 economist. He was a governor of Israel's central bank and a former World Bank Chief Economist
World Bank Chief Economist
The World Bank Chief Economist provides intellectual leadership and direction to the Bank’s overall development strategy and economic research agenda, at global, regional and country levels...



Michael Peter Bruno was born 30 July 1932 in Hamburg, Germany. His German Jewish family emigrated to Palestine (today's Israel)
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 a year later, following Hitler's Machtergreifung
Machtergreifung is a German word meaning "seizure of power". It is normally used specifically to refer to the Nazi takeover of power in the democratic Weimar Republic on 30 January 1933, the day Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany, turning it into the Nazi German dictatorship.-Term:The...

, and settled in the northern Jewish town of Haifa
Haifa is the largest city in northern Israel, and the third-largest city in the country, with a population of over 268,000. Another 300,000 people live in towns directly adjacent to the city including the cities of the Krayot, as well as, Tirat Carmel, Daliyat al-Karmel and Nesher...

. His father Hans was a doctor, and his mother Lotte, a pianist. Bruno inherited his father's dedication to the sciences, his mother's love of music, and their joint passion for nature and travel. His parents brought their European and cosmopolitan sensibilities with them to Palestine, wishing to some degree to preserve a certain way of life, but the family's early years were faced with difficulties. Palestine was awash with doctors (mostly recent immigrants too) and for several years Hans Bruno earned a living as a car mechanic. When World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 broke, Hans Bruno found that his skills would be better put to use in North Africa, and he joined the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 and served as a medical officer in Alexandria, Egypt.

During the later struggle for independence from the British Mandate, the family was expelled from their home and relocated to a more hostile part of town, and Michael Bruno had to be taken to school in an armoured school vehicle. Some of these difficulties soon lessened following the declaration of independence of the state of Israel.

After the completion of his military service In 1952, Bruno began studying Mathematics and Physics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem ; ; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel's second-oldest university, after the Technion – Israel Institute of Technology. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Edmond J...

, and in 1954, on the recommendation of Don Patinkin
Don Patinkin
Don Patinkin was an Israeli/American monetary economist, and the president of Hebrew University in Jerusalem.- Biography :...

, Professor of Economics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bruno came to England to read Mathematics and Economics at King's College, Cambridge
King's College, Cambridge
King's College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England. The college's full name is "The King's College of our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge", but it is usually referred to simply as "King's" within the University....

, after which he travelled to California to complete a doctorate at Stanford University
Stanford University
The Leland Stanford Junior University, commonly referred to as Stanford University or Stanford, is a private research university on an campus located near Palo Alto, California. It is situated in the northwestern Santa Clara Valley on the San Francisco Peninsula, approximately northwest of San...


Bruno's doctoral supervisor, Nobel laureate Kenneth J. Arrow wrote in 1997:

"(Michael's) sharp mind, ability to ask the right questions of the data and the policy context, balanced judgement, and lack of arrogance made him a natural leader. In addition to the governmental and operating positions he was entrusted with, he earned the great respect of his fellow economists, who chose him as president of their societies: The Israel Economic Association, the Econometric Society, and the International Economic Association".

Upon returning to Israel, he worked as director of research at the Bank of Israel
Bank of Israel
The Bank of Israel is the central bank of Israel. It is located in Kiryat HaMemshala in Israel's capital city of Jerusalem, with a branch office in Tel Aviv. The current governor is Stanley Fischer.-History:...

 from 1957 to 1963, when he joined the Economics department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem which remained his academic home until his death.

He is well remembered as the economist who pioneered the 1985 stabilisation plan
Economic Stabilization Plan (Israel 1985)
The Economic Stabilization Plan was implemented in Israel in 1985 in response to the dire domestic economic situation of the early 1980s.The background to the crisis is that the years after the 1973 Yom Kippur War were a lost decade economically, as growth stalled, inflation soared and government...

, which succeeded in bringing Israel's annual rate of inflation down from 450% and rising to under 20% in the course of two years.

In 1986, after serving as senior policy adviser to the Finance Minister, Bruno was appointed governor of the Bank of Israel
Bank of Israel
The Bank of Israel is the central bank of Israel. It is located in Kiryat HaMemshala in Israel's capital city of Jerusalem, with a branch office in Tel Aviv. The current governor is Stanley Fischer.-History:...

 when Labour's Shimon Peres
Shimon Peres
GCMG is the ninth President of the State of Israel. Peres served twice as the eighth Prime Minister of Israel and once as Interim Prime Minister, and has been a member of 12 cabinets in a political career spanning over 66 years...

 was Prime Minister in a national-unity coalition. In the same year, Bruno was concurrently appointed president of the Econometric Society
Econometric Society
The Econometric Society is an international society for the advancement of economic theory in its relation with statistics and mathematics. It was founded on December 29, 1930 at the Stalton Hotel in Cleveland, Ohio....


Although he was identified with the Labour movement, the subsequent Likud Government pressed him to stay on when his term expired in 1991. Bruno rejected this offer and instead joined the World Bank
World Bank
The World Bank is an international financial institution that provides loans to developing countries for capital programmes.The World Bank's official goal is the reduction of poverty...

 as Vice-President and Chief Economist, a post he held until a few months before his death from cancer. Michael Bruno was also Visiting Professor at MIT, Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, the University of Stockholm and the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

. The Michael Bruno Memorial Award, initiated in 1999 by the Rothschild Foundation, is a highly prestigious and lucrative science prize.

Eric Silver and Tam Dalyell
Tam Dalyell
Sir Thomas Dalyell Loch, 11th Baronet , known as Tam Dalyell, is a British Labour Party politician, who was a Member of Parliament in the House of Commons from 1962 to 2005, first for West Lothian and then for Linlithgow.-Early life:...

, write in their Michael Bruno obituary (The Independent, 28 December 1996):

"Bruno's strength as an economics professor who abandoned academia for the compromised world of politics was his inventiveness. He had a rare skill for marrying theory with practice, a talent for explaining his ideas to non- economists and selling them to his political masters."

Peter Passell wrote in his obituary to Bruno (New York Times, 31 December 1996):

"Mr. Bruno is largely remembered as a hands-on development economist. In 1975 he served on a government committee that revamped the Israeli tax system with an eye toward making it friendlier to private enterprise. And in 1976 he became the senior policy adviser to the Finance Minister, who was struggling with the increasing serious economic liabilities of maintaining Israel in a permanent war footing. And as governor of the Bank of Israel from 1986 to 1991, he spent much of his political capital defending the anti-inflation program. "Stabilization often works for a few months," explained Stanley Fischer
Stanley Fischer
Stanley "Stan" Fischer is an American-Israeli economist and the current Governor of the Bank of Israel. He previously served as Chief Economist at the World Bank.-Biography:...

, the first deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund; "Michael cemented its enduring success in Israel."

Mr. Bruno's program to battle inflation was built around the rapid elimination of the inflationary expectations that haunt many less developed countries and often require years of economic austerity to exorcise. The program was widely imitated in Latin America and also helped to inspire the "shock therapy" later applied to transition economies in eastern Europe, notably Poland and the Czech Republic.

His less well-known, but equally important accomplishment in the eyes of many Israelis, was the design of a successful plan for integrating hundreds of thousands of Soviet Jews into the Israeli economy. Rather than dictate where they would live and how they would earn a living, Mr. Bruno argued that free markets could manage the process if the immigrants were given cash for the transition and Israel's national labour union relaxed its control of job creation.
In 1991 he moved to Washington to become chief economist with the World Bank, where he became an important figure in refocusing the bank's mission. With his encouragement, the World Bank has accented its role as a clearinghouse for research while retreating from the routine of funnelling capital into economies that can attract private investors.

Tam Dalyell adds:

Politically, Bruno was on the left of Israeli politics, defined in terms of attitude towards the Arab neighbours, rather than the ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. He was among the founders of the Peace Now movement in 1978 and was active in both its demonstrations and its inner counsels. In advance of the 1981 general election, Bruno persuaded the Labour Party to write into its platform that it did not want Israel to go on ruling another people.

Bruno was a workaholic by nature, which trait was reinforced by a tremendous sense of obligation to his fellow countrymen in Israel, who had made his further education possible. He once summed it up: "You cannot quite understand, here in Britain, when I tell you that I have to work to contribute to the very survival of my country." He was also a real believer in manual work. Once when he was staying in Scotland a cattle grid was needed; he instantly offered to build it, and did, with me as his labourer.

At Christmas 1956, I was invited to stay with his parents at their home in Haifa. Michael was away, as he often was, doing part of his military service in the Negev. Dr Bruno, his father, told me of the circumstances which he believed had contributed to the formation of his son's outlook on the world. A grateful patient in his medical practice in Hamburg had summoned him to his house late at night on the pretext of an emergency call on behalf of his infant daughter. "When I arrived, he said it was not Greta who was ill, let alone in danger - "It is you and your family. I have Nazi connections, but am grateful to you - get out of Hamburg tomorrow!". Mercifully, as Michael Bruno said later: "We took the hint and survived - many of my parents' friends did not and were to perish in the Holocaust."

Bruno is survived by his second wife Netta (née Ben-Porath), and 3 children - daughter Yael and sons Ido and Asa - from his first marriage to Ofra Hanoch (née Hirshenberg).

Bruno died of cancer 25 December 1996, at home in Jerusalem.

Awards and honours

  • In 1970, Bruno was appointed the Carl Melchior chair of international economics.
  • In 1974, he was awarded the Rothschild Prize for Social Science.
  • In 1994, he was awarded the Israel Prize
    Israel Prize
    The Israel Prize is an award handed out by the State of Israel and is largely regarded as the state's highest honor. It is presented annually, on Israeli Independence Day, in a state ceremony in Jerusalem, in the presence of the President, the Prime Minister, the Knesset chairperson, and the...

    , for economics.

External links

See also

  • List of Israel Prize recipients
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