ALFRED COWLES, 3rd (18911984)
Founder and President: September 1932 September 1934
Alfred Cowles (born September 15, 1891, B.A., Yale University Class of 1913, died
December 28, 1984) was the founder of the Cowles Commission and was President of the
Cowles Commission from its inception. For ten years prior to the foundation of the
Cowles Commission, Alfred Cowles maintained a private organization for statistical
research on problems of investment and finance.
Mr. Cowles's primary concern in 1932 was to elevate economics into a more precise science
using mathematical and statistical techniques. From his own experience in investment
counseling, he had been frustrated by the "guessing game" techniques used in
forecasting the stock market and believed that scholarly research by experts could produce
a better method. From that beginning, economists and mathematicians of the Cowles
Foundation have been concerned with the formulation and application of quantitative
techniques to economic analysis and forecasting, and the success of their work has
necessitated a rewriting of virtually all economics textbooks.
The Cowles family has a long association with Yale University, starting with Alfred
Cowles's father and uncle who were Yale graduates. His grandnephew, William H.
Cowles, 3rd [Yale University Class of 1953], President and and Publisher of the
Cowles Publishing Company of Spokane, Washington.
Alfred Cowles was Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science, Fellow
and Treasurer of the Econometric Society, Trustee of the Chicago Historical Society,
Colorado College, Trustee and Treasurer of the Illinois Children's Home & Aid Society,
Director of the Chicago Maternity Center, Director of the Home for Destitute Crippled
Children, Director and Treasurer of the Passavant Memorial Hospital, and Director of the
Tribune Company and affiliated corporations. Alfred Cowles authored the Cowles
Monograph Common Stock Indexes, 1939 and contributed scientific articles to Econometrica,
and the Journal of American Statistical Association.
[Abstracted from A Twenty Year Research
Publications by Alfred Cowles:
- "Can Stock Market
Forecasters Forecast?" A paper read before a joint meeting of the Econometric
Society and the American Statistical Association, Cincinnati, Ohio, December 31, 1932 and
reprinted in Econometrica, 1(3), July 1933, pp. 309324.
- "The Meeting of the
Econometric Society in Cincinnati, Ohio, December, 1932," Econometrics,
1(2), April 1933, pp. 209217.
- "Analysis of 4½ Years of
Forecasting by 41 Advisory Services and Publications," Stock Market Technique,
ed. by Richard D. Wychoff, Vol. 2, No. 2, April 1933, esp. pp. 59.
- (with Herbert E. Jones), "Some
a Posteriori Probabilities in Stock Market Actions," reprinted in Econometrica,
5(3), July 1937, pp. 280294.
- Common-Stock Indexes,
18711937, 1st edition. Bloomington: Principia Press, Inc. 1938. (Cowles
Commission Monograph 3.)
- Common-Stock Index, 2nd
edition. Bloomington: Principia Press, Inc., 1939. (Cowles Commission Monograph 3.)
- Supplement to Common-Stock
Indexes for 1939 and 1940. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1940.
- "Stock Market Forecasting."
Econometrica, 12, 1944 [9pp]
- "A Revision of Previous
Conclusions Regarding Stock Price Behavior." Econometrica, 28(4), 1960.