Professor Peter Sinclair

Peter Sinclair aOur alumni and friends have been kind enough to share their memories of Peter. They are listed below.

It is with immense sadness that we report that Professor Peter Sinclair passed away on Tuesday 31st March 2020, having contracted coronavirus.

Professor Sinclair grew up in London and Norfolk, attending Gresham’s School in Holt, before embarking upon an undergraduate degree and doctorate at the University of Oxford. After working in industry for a time, he joined Brasenose College as a teaching fellow in 1970 and stayed for 24 years, teaching in particular economic theory, monetary policy and international economics. Although he spent much of his later career at the University of Birmingham, he remained a familiar face in and around College as a popular Emeritus fellow, and chaired the College’s Renumeration Committee with his last meeting in February of this year.

He published widely in Economics, lectured all over the world, consulted for many institutions including the Treasury, and was also the Director of the Bank of England's Centre for Central Banking Studies. The Principal of Brasenose College, John Bowers QC, commented “Many of you will recall the wonderful man he was and his kindness and compassion shone as well as his academic brilliance. He is such a loss to the family, the College and the wider world. He has a large group of devoted students whom we will be informing of this sad news.” Read an appreciation by John Bowers QC.

Our heartfelt condolences are sent to his wife Jayne and his wider family. Below are the tributes we have received from alumni and friends. If you would like to add or amend your tribute here, please email [email protected]

 


Tributes to Peter James Niven Sinclair (1946-2020)



It is right and natural that Peter is so well and lovingly remembered for all his many qualities, abilities, kindnesses and achievements at Oxford and indeed elsewhere.
Especially this is so for his love of teaching and his unfailing support for his students. As his brother I know just how much his many happy years at BNC meant to him.

Michael Sinclair (Peter's Brother)

 


 

Peter was not just a magnificent Professor-  the epitome of the Tutor in the Oxford Tutorial system - he was also a role model leader- in how he behaved in College with other Fellows and staff and with other leaders and individuals in society. He was principled, listened (aggressively:)), treated everyone with complete respect, had a point of view,  and was ever the optimist. A little bit of Peter is in all of us- and I am forever grateful. I miss him but will never forget him.


Dominic Barton (MPhil 1984)



 

I was among the first group of undergraduates taught by Peter when he arrived at College. I came up to read P.P.E. in 1968, so in our first year we were tutored by the amiable Gavin McCrone before he went off to run, as I remember it, the Scottish Statistical Office. Our first tutorials with Peter were astonishing. He seemed not much older than we were (which he wasn’t), and that was a shock. Even more amazing was his overwhelming energy, the warmth of his attention and the breadth of his knowledge. It was completely unlike any teaching experience I or, I suspect, countless others had ever experienced. He was like a genius friend who knew everything and just couldn’t wait to share and explain it all to you, as if there was nothing imaginable that could be more fun for him than spending the next hour or more in this way. I shared my tutorials with my old school friend, the late Anthony Browne, and these would sometimes take place in the garden of Peter’s house and would go on far beyond the appointed hour. Peter would never display disappointment at any expressed thought or analysis, no matter how hopeless. He would just pick it up and shape into something respectable and say how interesting he thought it.

I kept up with him a bit over the years and that was always such a pleasure. Any encounter would produce that huge radiant smile and that characteristic explosion of interest in whatever one might have been doing, followed by observations from his own experiences and reading which would leave me awestruck at the privilege I had been given of being his pupil.

Jeremy Sillem (PPE 1968)




It has been my privilege to have been taught by Peter at Brasenose, and to have counted him as a lifelong friend ever since. I have benefited enormously from his kindness, his humour and his support over the years. Having lived overseas during some of that time, such a friendship could have waned, but a wonderful and regular supply of cheerful and informative postcards always helped safeguard the relationship, and of course the man himself could be pretty well relied upon to pop up in person before too long. We particularly enjoyed his visits to Singapore where the diverse community gave him ample opportunity to dazzle with his extraordinary command of every language under the sun (or so it seemed!). I know I am one of many who already miss Peter very much.

Carolyn Pottinger (PPE 1977)




Although possessed of an extraordinary intellect he was genuinely one of the nicest and most humble men I’ve known. He was remarkably understanding and patient with us annoying undergraduates and he went out of his way to know how we were and if we had any problems he could help with. His patience was certainly tested by my tutorial partner who, despite being very clever himself, was useless at maths and couldn’t grasp even the most basic concept. I still remember the tutorial that started with Peter talking through graphs and algebra and ten minutes later had him saying, “Look, a man comes to your door selling carrots…”


Peter never lost his temper or raised his voice and was liked by everyone in college. When I returned there for reunions, I’d always try to make a beeline for him for a chat and he'd always ask after me and my friends, taking a genuine interest in what we were doing with our lives. He was a lovely man and will be much missed.

My heartfelt condolences and sympathy to his family and friends.

Guy Haslam (PPE 1982)




It was with great sadness that I read of Peter's death.  As others are far more qualified to speak of Peter's brilliance as an economist, I will just briefly mention what a wonderful human being Peter was. Nearly 40 years on, Peter's warmth, inclusiveness and approachable teaching style still stand out to me in great contrast to several dons whose haughtiness conveyed their obvious disinterest in tutoring an aimless young American (Yale Econ BA) grad. Peter's teaching was always comprehensible, relevant, and demonstrated how much he cared about his students. On a personal level, as it was patently clear that I was not planning an academic career post-Oxford, Peter provided me with excellent advice to navigate my entry into the business world. The world is a lesser place without Peter.  My sympathy to all who knew and will miss him. 

with warm regards, 

Evelyn Windhager Swanson (PPE 1983)




I was so sad to hear the news about Peter. His enthusiasm was infectious and he made economics genuinely enjoyable. I remember his fondness for languages and how he would greet international students in their native tongue. His mind was so agile and he would be delighted if anyone second-guessed his chain of reasoning (not that I did that often). I didn’t always live up to expectations – particularly the time he discovered me bleaching my hair when I had a finals when I should’ve been delivering a revision seminar. But he enjoyed the laugh.

Ed Smith (PPE 1987)




Peter was a great friend and colleague. Remarkably sharp and cultured yet modest and kind. He affected my professional and private life in so many ways. He was my supervisor at Brasenose College in the first year of my DPhil. I felt very honoured to meet him there when I first arrived 28 years ago, as I had used his textbook "Unemployment: Economic Theory and Evidence" in Stockholm. He made me remain in the UK, encouraging me to take up my first a lectureship at the University of Birmingham. He organised the Royal Economic Society Easter School where I met my wife. More recently, he was a very popular external examiner at Durham University Business School and a generous and inspirational external examiner of several of my PhD students.  He will be deeply missed.

Thomas Renstrom (Economics 1992)




I was reading PPE at BNC in 1970 when Peter joined as economics tutor, so I was privileged to be one of his first students.  With only three years’ difference in our ages, he was from the start as much a friend as a tutor.  And what a friend he was - always kind, always generous with his time and his friendship, always thinking of others, always willing to go the extra mile to provide support.  Being one of his students in 1970 also means I knew him for 50 years, over which time he changed remarkably little.  His shining intelligence, his ebullient good nature and his irrepressible smile never faltered or waned and he retained his youthful enthusiasm throughout.  He was both prematurely wise and eternally youthful, a rare combination that I greatly cherished, as I’m sure did all who knew him.

Sadly, there will be many more occasions for grief as this cruel microbe carves its way through the population and disproportionately winnows the elderly and infirm, but Peter’s passing is especially painful as we have lost someone of rare quality and humanity.  My heart goes out to Jayne and all his family.

With warm regards,

Simon Duffy (PPE 1969)




I heard the sad news last night through Simon Lewis. It is very upsetting and so many memories of his tutorials and interactions we had at college events keep flooding back in my mind.

He always spoke to me in a mix of ancient and modern Greek at the start of our conversation which was so sweet. I can still picture his cheeky smile as he synthesised the two languages.

A polymath and a delightful man. A great loss and we must honour him suitably at his memorial.

Heraclis Economides (PPE 1979)




I was very sad to hear this news.  I was able to see Peter at an Oxford and Cambridge BNC drinks evening not too long ago, and glad to have been able to thank him for his exceptional empathy and care during a difficult time I had experienced as an undergraduate.  You all know about his brilliance and hospitality too.  My condolences to his family and friends.

Julie Gottlieb (PPE 1993)




Very tragic news. Peter was the most inspiring teacher I ever had. He will be sorely missed by so many of us who had the privilege of knowing him.

Thank you for sharing this sad news,

Mark Nightall (PPE 1989)




Dear Principal

I have the fondest memories of Peter. Please pass on my condolences to his wife and family.

I was in my second year of PPE when Peter arrived to take over from Gavin McCrone as Economics Tutor – a complete contrast in styles and areas of economic expertise. I was indeed fortunate to have had the benefit of being taught by both.

Peter, only about two years older than myself, arrived brimming with energy and infectious enthusiasm and immediately displayed a natural affinity for teaching. This energy and enthusiasm could result in a joint tutorial for myself and Adrian Carter starting in his room at 11.30 in the morning and not finishing until dinner time. The time would have encompassed lunch at the Abingdon Arms in Beckley (involving a somewhat perilous journey in his old Austin Cambridge – neither car nor driver felt the safest), then tea in his room and finally a drink in the Buttery, all whilst talking economics non-stop. The great benefit of a joint tutorial was that with three people the conversation never dried up.

After I left BNC he continued to take great interest in me and what I was doing and provided much sage advice and practical help on career and other matters.

I shall miss him indeed.

With best wishes to you and all at BNC in these uncertain times

Sandy Anson (PPE 1969)




Oh John this is dreadful news – 50 years after he joined the Brasenose family and, I think, one hundred years after PPE was born.

I was in his first cohort to take Schools. It was our third year. He arrived with energy and total dedication to our cause. He worked us hard but, as you say, with compassion. He was the most warm hearted and approachable of tutors – helped no doubt by the fact that he was scarcely older than his pupils back in 1970. He was a brilliant teacher – able with such ease to make complex economic issues comprehensible. Above all, he cared for us and about us and we felt that every step of the way.

After Schools, I stayed on in Oxford for the summer with no expectation of a viva. But I was summoned and one evening there was a knock on the door of the staff common room at the Dragon School where I was working. It was Peter. Without warning, he had cycled out to the school with a heap of books in his basket in a final attempt to get me over the line for a first. That I failed ultimately to deliver was no fault of his but it demonstrated his care and concern and he was, of course, rewarded by so many of his pupils securing first class honours in future years.

Peter’s general knowledge and range of interests were  extraordinary. He was as happy conversing about English football or theatre as he was about  monetary policy or the balance of payments deficit. That’s why he counted so many of his former pupils among his personal friends. My partner and I  were invited to see in the Millennium at his London home and we remained in regular touch.

In June 2018, he emailed me about Brexit. He said his views were unprintable and he was going to take part in a march for the first time in his life. If I felt likewise and would like to march from Pall Mall to Parliament Square, please come along. I replied that, as he had taught me all I knew, I was in full agreement and would also make my debut as a marcher. Several of his former pupils came too and, while we never got a referendum, it was a memorable day.

He was an important part of my life for half a century. I have so much to be grateful to him for and I shall miss him terribly.

Chris Lowe (1968 PPE)   




He was such a wonderful person to be with and to learn from.  I remember first meeting him before even applying to Brasenose.  I was at a comprehensive and nobody from my school had been to Oxford.  I went along to learn more about the place and the likelihood of getting in.  I think he was Admissions tutor at the time.  He was so warm and welcoming, instantly putting me at my ease and being truly interested in me.  He inspired me to pursue the dream and apply.  I had the joy of being tutored by him and have seen a him a few times in more recent years.  He seemed effortlessly intelligent but also deeply humble and endlessly curious.  I am very sad to see this news.  Do please pass on the best wishes to his family, from all those of us who he helped educate and develop, through his work. 

I would like to hear about the Memorial service.  It is a very sad day.

Chris Smith (PPE 1979)




Please pass my condolences to Peter's nearest and dearest. He was a wonderful teacher and a charming, generous and kind man.

Contact in the intervening years has been sadly intermittent, but always a joy and he will be greatly missed.

Thank you,

Peter Breitenbach (PPE 1973)




Thank you so much for your message, it is lovely to feel the constant connection to Brasenose, really appreciated your timely email when we were all feeling very upset at the news.

Peter was my economics tutor (1985), and very much loved by us all.  Feeling so sad that the world has been deprived of him, he was the kindest and most fun tutor and always came to see us at Gaudies and PPE events.  

Hope to visit and celebrate his life, and see fellow economics students soon.

Best wishes and health to all of you in college, and your families.

Sushila Colquhoun (PPE 1985)




I was so very saddened to read of Peter Sinclair’s death this morning. I matriculated at Brasenose in 1987, reading PPE. I was new to Economics at the time, and absolutely terrified of the subject. Peter made it human and accessible and fascinating. His enthusiasm and kindness for and towards his students knew no bounds, and at a time when Oxford could be difficult for women students, absolutely supportive of us and our careers. I’ve now been a professor at UC Berkeley for over 20 years and I think of his teaching and his work often as I try to model my behavior towards them. I will say I have met very few professors who come close to his combination of support, brilliance, teaching capacity and loveliness of character. 

I think a couple of tributes have included anecdotes from his tutorials. One of my favorites was once, when he had given a complicated scenario he asked us whether interest rates would go up or down. One of my fellow students said very hesitantly, “up?” - Peter looked very  sad and shook his head, Tom then said “down?”, and Peter glowed with approval, as if one of us had solved a major mathematical equation. Another, perhaps less known, thing he did was for those of us who didn’t have an obvious job upon graduation, depending on his connections at the time. I had planned some time “off" to prepare applications for US graduate schools for my Ph.D. but needed to earn money. Peter called me at my parents’ home one day to ask how I felt about moving to Ireland for a year - it turned out that University College Cork needed a couple of lecturers for the year, and he’d recommended myself and my peer Simon Roberts. That sheer dazzling confidence in us strikes me as incredible from this point in my career. IT also made all the difference. Peter got me onto a path of environmental politics and economics that is basically what I do today. (Also we were lucky: rumor was that the previous year’s option was a biscuit company, but I’m not sure I believe that).

Maybe I will be able to attend his memorial, once this terrible virus abates.

All the very best,

Kate O’Niell (PPE 1987)




I was shocked and so sorry to hear the news and send his family my deepest condolences.

I studied PPE from 1977-1980 and majored in economics (I subsequently went on to have a career in stockbroking and equity research). Peter was my tutor (with Tony Courakis) and I credit them with my first class honours result and life-long love of the subject.

Peter was wonderfully enthusiastic, brilliantly inspirational and incredibly kind. Perhaps my fondest memory is our early morning tutorials in an upstairs café in the covered market, excitedly debating consumer economics over bacon and eggs.

I should very much like to attend Peter’s memorial service in due course.

And best wishes to everyone at Brasenose at this difficult time.

Jane Anscombe (PPE 1977)




I was deeply saddened to learn of Peter Sinclair's tragic passing. I read PPE 30 years ago, and his larger than life presence fills many of my Brasenose memories. Besides his staggering brilliance, he was such a kind, generous, and decent man. He was also extraordinarily indulgent with me, patiently bringing me along in economics, a subject I had never before studied and in which I felt at sea. He did so with never even a hint of a scrap of frustration or condescension.

His infectious enthusiasm enlivened even the driest of subjects. In particular, I recall an incident in my last year at BNC when he was staging a weekly seminar for those of us preparing for economics finals. It was a beautiful spring day, and the windows in the seminar room were open to the most touristy parts of the college. A group of Swedes was speaking just outside the windows. Mr. Sinclair impishly bounded up from his chair, poked his head out the door, and asked them, in Swedish, if they would do him the kind favor of lowering their voices just a little bit so that he could work with students on preparing for their exams. Truth be told, the Swedes were not speaking very loudly--but his intervention had the desired effect, which was to break the tension as we all exploded in laughter.

After I finished at Oxford, I spent some time volunteering in Nicaragua, and he took the time to write me an effusive handwritten letter enclosing my final exams results. Nicaragua was not a place where, 30 years ago, I had any (let alone ready) access to University materials or UK newspapers to look up my marks, so it might have been months until I would have learned the outcome but for his going out of the way to send the results to me.

His death is just such a loss to Brasenose writ large. My deepest sympathies go out to his family.

Douglas L. Stevick (PPE 1989)




I was saddened to learn today that Peter Sinclair, remembered very fondly by several generations of economics students at BNC (myself among them), died yesterday of coronavirus. You may have heard this already, but I thought I would let you know just in case not.

I received the following message from his Australian cousin, Lindy, who by coincidence, is a friend. She wrote:

 "I wanted to let you know that my beloved cousin and your former tutor Peter Sinclair died yesterday. He had caught Covid-19 and had been in Norfolk hospital since the 13th march in Intensive Care. He actually came off the respirator on Sunday night and we had hopes that he would make a recovery, but didn't. The hospital staff let his wife Jayne stay with him for the last day so that was a blessing. She had been in isolation but hadn't caught the infection. But will now go back into quarantine. It's so shocking when a statistic becomes a real person."

He will be very sadly missed. I very much hope the college will be able to arrange something to commemorate a brilliant - and above all, very nice - man once normality has returned.

Best wishes

Peter Conradi (PPE 1979)




Peter taught me throughout my time as an undergraduate at BNC between 1983 and 1986.  Although I was not a natural economist (my maths was frankly not up to the job, and politics and philosophy were much easier for me), I liked Peter enormously and he persuaded me to keep on all three subjects after my first year.  When I then struggled badly with the economics limb of my degree in the second year – in part due to my own lack of sufficient application – Peter took me personally under his wing and, taking me back to basics, gave me extra work which he prepared specially for me, and gave me extra tutorials to make sure I understood it.  Thanks to an enormous amount of effort, he got me back on track and I ended up with First, including first class marks in both my economics papers – something which I regarded at the time, and still do, as little short of miraculous. 

He was a quite brilliant teacher – even for someone like me, who was by no means a star pupil – as well as being an absolutely lovely man.  It is many years since I saw him now, but I still remember him vividly.  It is very sad that he is gone, but what a wonderful legacy he has left behind.

Nick Harrison (PPE 1983)






It is extremely sad to hear of the loss of Peter Sinclair. He was an intellectual giant - interested in everything and endlessly passionate about ideas and the world. My sincere condolences to his wife and family for their terrible loss.

Lucy Solymar (PPE 1988)




I came up to BNC in 1991 as a Rhodes Scholar.  I had chosen to do a second BA, reading PPE.  My first degree was commerce – useful but not very interesting.  PPE was perhaps the reverse, though it has been very useful too, and we were privileged to have wonderful tutors – Vernon Bogdanor in politics; John Foster and Michael Woods in Philosophy.  In economics Tony Courakis and of course, Peter.  Peter made a huge impression.  Enthusiasm is the word that springs to mind immediately – his beaming smile as he bounced into the room, so keen to share his love of the subject with us.  Always a kind word, and always encouraging, even to the weakest students.  He demonstrated a real care for every student, evidenced by how many of us he stayed in touch with. I last saw him at a BNC breakfast in the City before the Brexit referendum, when he spoke so clearly and candidly of his concerns for the outcome.  He was a little older obviously, but the enthusiasm, genuine interest in others and kindness remained.  “Oh hello Graham” he responded in front of the audience when I asked a question. 

One of a kind, a brilliant intellect but more importantly a thoroughly good and decent human being.  We are all poorer with his passing.

Graham Thomas (PPE 1991)




I was saddened to read of the death of Peter Sinclair. Peter was my tutor in the late 1970s. As an American, I had never before had the privilege of having one-to-one weekly sessions with a professor. My sessions with Peter were a revelation and a joy. He met with me two or sometimes three times per week. He was invariably in good spirits. My tutorials were usually set for 8:30 or 9 am. I inferred that he worked late because I would always have to wait for some time after I knocked on his door before he would receive me. I could hear him through the door scurrying around, getting dressed or perhaps straightening the room a bit. Our tutorials would always begin in a very civilized manner—with a shared cup of instant coffee!

Since I was studying PPE but had no background in economics, Peter had his work cut out when it came to bringing me up to speed in this discipline. I was somewhat apprehensive, because I knew that I would have to learn a lot of economics in a short amount of time. He quickly put me at my ease. He assessed the level of my ignorance and then assigned me materials that he thought would be accessible to me but would also challenge me to ask more probing questions about micro- and macroeconomics. His ability to personalize his instruction was remarkable, and not something I fully appreciated until years later when I, too, became a professor.

He was also very willing to take his cues from his students, building upon their initiatives and suggestions. To prepare for exams, I had drawn up an enormous 30 x 30 matrix with various elements of the economic system on the vertical and horizontal axes. I was working through each cell trying to assess how varying one element (e.g., interest rates) would affect the other elements. I brought this matrix to one of my final sessions with him. Peter became quite excited and exclaimed that he had never before seen such a review “tool” but that, yes, we would use it as a basis for consolidating and extending my understanding of economics.

There were a few other older foreign students studying with Peter. He intuited that we might be feeling somewhat lonely, so he arranged an outing. When spring arrived, he drove a small group of us to Wales to see Tintern Abbey. The sun was shining brightly and the landscape was gloriously green. The world seemed full of beauty and promise—thanks to Peter’s kindness and generosity of spirit.

Daryl Koehn (PPE 1979)




I write to express my deep sorrow at the news of Peter’s untimely passing.  When I first received the email last week I was rocked, and I am so sorry for his immediate family and close friends.

I read PPE at Brasenose between 1982-85, and was extremely fortunate to have Peter as my tutor across all three years.  I could talk about all that I learned from him – a huge amount – and I could mention his intellect and ability to frame complex issues so that undergraduates could grasp and explore them.  However, my abiding memory is of a man with an infectious enthusiasm for life, a deep passion for his students and one of the most engaging people I have ever met.  He made such an impression on me as a young 18 year old fresher, and gave me the confidence and encouragement that I could do ‘it’ at a time when I doubted myself early in my time at Oxford.  I often say to many people that Oxford opened my eyes to the world, and that the firm I joined on graduation and am still with gave me the platform to engage with the world.  Neither of those would have been possible without the very personal tutoring and support from such a wonderful man as Peter, and that world stopped for a moment last week when he passed away. 

I will be eternally grateful to Peter for all he gave to me almost four decades ago, and I hope I am paying it forward to others as he did so often in his life.

RIP Peter –you will be deeply missed by many, and remembered by thousands around the world.

Gary Turner (PPE 1982)




I have very warm memories of Peter Sinclair, principally from when I was a PPE student at Brasenose in Michaelmas 1975 before shifting to a B.Phil. in politics at the end of that semester.  Needless to say, Peter was not the reason I switched programs.  On the contrary, he was a reason not to make a change that otherwise made sense for me.

Peter was an incredibly nice person! He was so positive and encouraging even as he would point out and correct mistakes.  Whereas someone else might instantly note an argument's flaws, Peter would begin "That's really a very, very, very interesting paper.  There are just one or two points.."  He demonstrated that one could be brilliant and kind, probing and encouraging, rigorous yet humane.  I remember Peter as cheerful, thoughtful and energetic.  It was a great blessing to have had such a man as a teacher both for what that experience taught me about economics, teaching and being a good human being.

I send my condolences to his family and friends.

Joel K. Goldstein (PPE 1975)




I would like to pay tribute to Peter. 

I was an undergraduate PPEist from 1986 to 1989 at BNC. I wasn't a natural economist, but Peter was able to explain complex topics in a very accessible way, and to my surprise, I ended up with decent marks in my economics papers. He was an outstanding teacher.

He was also exceptionally kind and genuinely cared about his students. I remember sitting in his car as we speeded towards a delightful cotswolds pub. I also remember him coming into Hall on the morning of our First finals exam to wish us all good luck. 

I felt that some dons at Oxford saw undergraduate teaching as a duty, but that was never the case with Peter. He was always enthusiastic and went far beyond the bare minimum.

I am so glad that he found such happiness towards the end of his life with Jayne Ivimey. It's just so sad that he's been taken from us at a relatively young age.

Ed Bowsher (PPE 1986)





Peter Sinclair was the best teacher I ever had, in any subject. He taught us principles, and how to think, in an enduring way that could be applied to novel problems later. He challenged us to think differently and to question received wisdom. He brought out the best in all of his students.

Around college, Peter was always smiling. He greeted everyone by name, including many who weren’t even his students. He was kind and generous to everyone.

I have so many abiding memories: of Peter rushing into lectures at the last moment and passing round his handwritten notes fresh from the photocopier; knowing some words in every language and greeting any foreign visitor in their mother tongue; eating raw chillies with no ill effects; driving us to Burford for dinner and telling us to always eat fish in pubs.

Peter’s relationships with his students didn’t end when they left Brasenose. We each received long personal letters after our finals results. Many of us were invited to his inaugural lecture at Birmingham. Years later, we would meet for a drink or dinner, and pick up where we left off. Peter continued to answer emails about economics questions with kindness and enthusiasm. Returning for gaudies, he still knew everyone’s name and what they were up to.

He was a truly remarkable man, and we are all lucky to have known him.

Dafydd Stuttard (PPE 1991, MSt/DPhil Philosophy 1994)




I did feel so sad on hearing this news. My main memory of Peter is his kindness and tolerance. I must have been the worst student of economics ever inflicted on him. At the time, it wasn’t necessary to have a Maths A level to study PPE but in practice this made things very difficult for me and, I guess, for him.  Regardless of my ineptitude,  I always enjoyed his tutorials and seminars and he made them fun and interesting, He was very patient with me as I flailed around and got me through my part 1 exams somehow. I have always remembered him with admiration.

A huge loss. He had so much more to give yet.

Julia Kreitman (PPE 1978)




We arrived as undergraduates at Brasenose in the same term that Peter started as a Tutorial Fellow in Economics, 50 years ago. Peter was only 5 years older than us. The fact that he had started undergraduate life as a classicist made this an even more remarkable achievement.

He was joined in that first term by Vernon Bogdanor for Politics and by Michael Woods for Philosophy. Later John Foster taught us Moral Philosophy. They were a remarkable set of teaching fellows and as far as I know they had not a doctorate between them. Vernon, I remember was the toughest. I had come from a science background and essay writing was not my usual medium. In fact, today I might have been classified as dyslexic. But he instilled in me a love of the subject and my favourite pastime today is to read long historical tomes. I remember asking Vernon when he was Professor of Government whether he still did undergraduate tutorials and he told me that he not only did but that he found it most refreshing as undergraduates had a much broader interest than post-graduates and on average were brighter than post-graduates.

Michael Woods could hardly have been employed in a University today. As far as I know he published only one monograph in his career, but he was a wonderful teacher and much loved in spite of his nervous shakes with his newer pupils – hence his nick name “Shakey”. Michael knew that most of us were not philosophers and he taught us how to write a philosophy essay. Sadly Michael died young but his memory is carried in through travel scholarships for Brasenose undergraduates funded by subscription.

Peter was remarkable. He worked 70 hours a week preparing his tutorial work. He smoked like a chimney and clearly did not have time to exercise. He was affectionately nicknamed Puff the Magic Dragon. Tutorials were fun and stretched the mind. My enduring memory was a tutorial on financial arbitrage and the three types of trader – arbitrageurs, hedgers and speculators. I cannot remember the source but it was made clear that markets needed all three in order to reach an equilibrium. Today’s financial regulators could do well to remember this. Another area where Peter excelled was in Monetary Economics. He and Dick Smethurst gave a weekly seminar on the subject at BNC. Their discussion of the yield curve was seminal. He also was the senior member of the Addington Dining Club which hosted political speakers.

Peter remained a friend of mine and my wife for the rest of his life as he did for so many of his ex-pupils. He and his first wife, Shelagh Heffernan, invited us to dinner in his Barbican flat and later by himself when he was widowed. My wife remembers him serving parsnips as a starter buttered, he told us, with “Danish butter”. They were delicious. He regularly turned up at a financial seminar which friends and I organised in the City and would always have something useful to say. He and Shelagh visited Trier when I was in Luxembourg and he later came out for a seminar I had organised traveling on to Trier, alone, to remember his last trip with Shelagh.

More recently Peter organised groups to march for the Remain cause. Our group included Stephen Dorrell a former Secretary of State for Health and Chris Lowe the BBC presenter and journalist. Peter also wrote a little piece “10 Reasons to Vote Leave” which were somewhat tongue-in-cheek not to say sarcastic. Peter was so mild and amiable that he occasionally caught one off guard with the odd rather caustic remark on someone he thought unworthy.

Peter was a regular attender at BNC Alumni events often with Jayne Ivimey, the artist and his second wife who was with him to the end. We hope she will remain in touch and carry on the friendship.

David Clark (PPE 1970) 




Very shocking and so sad. Before his time. He was a gent and a nice man.

And in my case, a very sympathetic and patient teacher.

Jock Miller (PPE 1970)





Like so many others, the news of Peter’s death hit me hard. He was one of the few people in the world who I felt really believed in me. That was true 40 years ago as a PPE undergraduate and has remained true ever since, as we corresponded sporadically and met occasionally at College events over the years. I think I was aware that Peter kept in contact with a huge number of his former students but his interest made me feel special, nonetheless. Our email thread was simply entitled ‘Re: BNC again’ and had been going for years. In his latest email, Peter recounted how he had met ‘Maggie T’ at Ted Heath’s memorial service at Salisbury Cathedral, in response to my sharing that I’d recently moved and was doing some work there. It was a hilarious anecdote! He went on to remember that I had studied with Walter Eltis (his memory seemed almost superhuman) and attached the  tribute that he had given at Walter’s memorial service last year. It was masterful and beautiful.

Peter’s appetite for serving others never ceased to amaze me, and was instrumental in my conversion experience at Oxford. Arriving as a ‘spiritual seeker’ and finding myself roped into the Chapel choir, I was fascinated to notice that Peter always attended College Prayers and I observed him carefully (he lived in College in those days) to see if his life matched up to his faith. It did! Recently, finding himself in Norfolk with a little more time, he was interested in offering some financial advice to the Norwich diocese and asked if I could introduce him to someone. I happened to know the Cathedral dean and wrote to let her know of Peter’s offer. I found myself writing ‘I can only commend him to you as a brilliant person and one of the most loving, humble Christians I have known.’

Thank you Peter, for all the love and encouragement you showed me over so many years.

With best wishes,

Pippa Soundy (PPE 1978)





It was with enormous sadness that I read of Peter’s passing. He really was one of the most remarkable and kind people I have ever met, and I feel deeply privileged to have been taught by him. It is no exaggeration to say that he was the finest teacher I ever encountered and he inspired in me a great love of economics which has persisted throughout my career.

I have so many positive memories of his influence at BNC that is hard to pick out any single instance, but there is perhaps one in particular that sticks in my mind. It was one of those magical summer evenings with everyone sitting out in New Quad. I was on a bench talking to a fellow PPEist. Peter bounced up to us with his infectious enthusiasm. “Mark, Philippa - would you like to drink some very fine port?”

We of course agreed and followed Peter to a lecture room where he had just finished a dinner. We sat down to share the two thirds of a bottle of 30 year old port that his guests had not finished, and chatted happily for a good two or three hours. The conversation strayed all over the place but was never less than fascinating.

His classes, tutorials and lectures were the same (minus the port) - great journeys of discovery as he imparted his immense knowledge with humour and humility. The world is a much poorer place without him.

Mark Caines (PPE 1988)




Peter Sinclair taught me economics when I was an undergraduate at BNC from 1991-1994.  Peter was passionate about economics and his students in equal measure.  He invested himself in his teaching as much as he did in his research, which is rare among distinguished academics.  He would teach us in large seminar groups and dispensed with the one to one tutorial system which was not to his liking, but it worked well and he produced a generation of students who became enthused by economics and delivered hugely impressive exam results.   

But Peter, the man, was unfailingly jolly, courteous and generous with his time. He would always stop to chat to his students whenever he came across them in College. He made a real impression on me and all those he taught at BNC and he will be dearly missed by a generation of students whom he taught with such flair, ability and generosity.

Dan Leader (PPE 1991)




Peter was my tutor for my MPhil and DPhil. He was such a warm and encouraging person whose comments were always constructive and gently delivered. I last saw him in 2011 or 2012 when he was visiting Washington DC and had dinner with a few of his former students living in the DC area.  I know that I would not have succeeded without Peter’s guidance and support—I am forever grateful to him.

Swati Ghosh (PPE 1985)




In so many ways, I count myself incredibly privileged and fortunate to have been tutored by Peter Sinclair. 

Along with myriads of his students, it is of course for:

  • His brilliant kaleidoscopic mind which together with his sensitivity to the societal impact of economic thought, ignited a lifelong fascination with the subject from my first meeting;
  • The warmth, humour and vivacity of his teaching that made studying economics such an adventure.

It is absolutely to do with what I learned from him both within and without of Oxford and the influence this has had on the person and professional I now am:

  • Why and how economics has far reaching effects on individual, social and environmental wellbeing;
  • Why there’s more to economics than meets the eye;
  • Why life is more than economics.

But above all, it’s for

  • The feeling, when with Peter, that no matter what I or anyone else thought, he saw you as the most important person in the world;

and perhaps as a consequence of this

  • His profound empathy, compassion and inspired support in dark and fallow times, as well as celebrating the brilliant, happy and creative ones.

No tribute can do justice to such a wonderful and unique person.  

Nicolette Boater (PPE 1984, M.Phil. Economics 1986)




Thank you for sharing the sad news about Peter. He is the first person known to me personally to succumb to this wretched thing, and it sadly makes human the cost of what has largely been numbers hitherto.

It is a source of great sadness to us here at the Office for National Statistics, as he had for a few years served on of our Economic Exert Working group, and was a regular visitor to our offices for its meetings. I understand that there is likely to be an obituary on our intranet by our former chief economist, Joe Grice, who was once tutored in economics by Peter. If  I see that, I shall share the text with you at the college. Personally I shall miss him: when he came in, he never failed to say hello to me as an old Noseman, though as an historian I obviously wasn’t one of his old pupils.

Clearly a memorial service is out of the question at the moment, but if one is held in Oxford once things get more back to normal I’d be grateful if the Development Office could let us know: I think he was one of those Fellows who was liked and admired more widely than just among his pupils.

David Bradbury (1981)




It was with much sorrow that I received the news of Peter’s death. I was of course in the Governing Body when he first came to the College, as an JRF I think and his company was always a pleasure, He seemed to have a permanent happy smile on his face. He was a very good linguist and we had plenty of fun teasing each other on various languages. His branch of economics was fairly mathematical and he had a real flair for the subject. I shall miss him dearly.

MY best thoughts for Peter’s family: we shall always remember him.

Simon Altmann (BNC Emeritus Fellow)

 


 

That is terribly sad news …My thoughts are with his family friends and colleagues. He was a lovely brilliant kind man.  I await news of the memorial.

Rajan Datar (1981)




Very sad indeed.  A terrible loss.  My condolences to the family.  Marty

Marty Gross (1972)




The words 'Beloved'  and 'Emeritus Fellow' don't often sit in the same sentence, but oh, how apt in these circumstances.  What a dear, kind tutor.  I don't often cry, but tears prickle now.

Peter wrote to e after our son was killed two years ago.  He comforted me then, just as he had forty four years earlier when I was the worst economics student in the world.

I hope his family will gather strength from how we all thought of him.

Jane Maitland (1974)




This is terribly sad news. Peter was such a nice man and phenomenal teacher. My abiding memory of him will always be how you could never be wrong, just not as right as you might have been. He would stand there explaining some immensely complex model of interconnected markets and spell out a particular scenario. And then he would say something like: “so, Chris, if at this juncture, the interest rate goes up, does the demand curve go up or down?”  I would take a 50/50 punt and say “down?” And he would respond along the lines of “well Chris, in some instances, yes. But I think it is probably more likely that it would go up”. 

A genuine honour and privilege to have known him let alone be taught by him. Please pass on my condolences to his family.

Christopher Croft (1990)

 



Please pass on my condolences, along with others' to Peter Sinclair's family. He taught me economics from 1985 to 1989.  He was the kindest, wisest man I knew then, or since.   We all loved him, as did many others who came before and after us at Brasenose. 

Caroline Croft (1985)




Peter possessed a gentleness of soul that endeared him to all. He had monumental patience with non-mathematical economists. Yet above all his enthusiasm and sense of fun made being taught by him a delight. The bubbliness of his life will keep effervescing in our memories for decades to come.

Ian Gregory (1982)

 



I was deeply saddened to learn of the loss of Peter Sinclair, our wonderful professor during our time reading PPE at Brasenose.

He was always warmhearted, good natured and kind. He particularly enjoyed speaking to me, and often giving me notes, in Ancient Greek. Unfortunately, his heavy accent rendered everything he said largely incomprehensible to my Modern Greek ear. His written notes, however, were always a pleasure.

So, I will say my farewell by reversing the dedication he wrote in my copy of his book "Unemployment":

"Πέτρο,
καλέ δάσκαλε και φίλε,
Χαῖρε,
Efstathios
01.iv.20"

My heartfelt condolences to his family and to all his friends, colleagues and students.

Stathis Triphyllis (1991)




In a personal communication yesterday, Sir Anthony Seldon, my former politics teacher at Whitgift School, S. Croydon, who first encouraged me to apply to Oxford, described Peter as “the best of the best”. His relative lack of formal recognition by the British establishment (surely a posthumous knighthood is the minimum?) says more about that “establishment” than it does about Peter. 

I feel pretty sure that the vast majority of Peter’s students at Brasenose College, Oxford, at Birmingham University and around the world over his 40 year plus teaching career will say that he was one of the greatest teachers, tutors and mentors they’ve ever known. He certainly was for me. So what follows here are some personal reflections on Peter written the day after I heard about his untimely death while I still have tears in my eyes, pain in my heart and anger in my soul. 

I first met PJNS at my PPE interview in early 1985, but my memory is that he was somewhat overshadowed by Vernon Bogdanor who asked virtually all of the questions, most of which I couldn’t answer. David Cameron, who was in the same interview group, obviously did better than me with his memory of obscure voting systems, such as AMS, AVP, Borda Count and good old STV, as I failed the interview. However, I was then invited back to BNC after A level results came out in around June 1985, thanks I believe to the interventions of Whitgift Headmaster David Raeburn and Dr. Anthony Seldon on my behalf, and I returned to the college for a one-on-one masterclass with Peter on Dornbusch’s exchange rate overshooting model. On basis of my stuttering performance in explaining which way the curves would move in response to an oil price shock, I was offered a place, deferred to 1986 while I went to spend a gap year as a voluntary teacher in Zimbabwe. 

As one of two Economics tutors at Brasenose, along with the laconic Anthony Courakis, Peter was in high demand. I remember being quite annoyed when all of these students from other colleges kept turning up to attend his seminars and tutorials. Hang on – we applied to BNC, he’s our college tutor, not yours! 

Another memory of PPE days was the seminar we each had to give in front of our peers towards middle of the second year. Daunting or what? I was allocated the International Economics brief, which I realise, in hindsight, was one of the Peter’s specialities. I still have the hand-written seminar paper that I spent weeks preparing, all 59 pages of it. The paper starts as follows: 

“International trade theory is concerned, at its broadest level, with one aspect of the location of economic activity. The case for free trade has traditionally been based upon the gains to be derived from specialization and exchange (as compared to the situation of universal autarkic production and consumption).” 

Rather pretentious for a 22 year old but that just about explains why Brexit is such a bad idea, doesn’t it? 

The other special memory is the pre-finals trip with his PPE students to the King’s Arms Hotel in Chipping Campden, which felt like a scene from Brideshead Revisited or perhaps, given BNC economists’ legendary capacity for booze, “Withnail, and I” (released 1987) with Peter holding court, puffing on a cigarillo, with his young acolytes bathing in his reflected glory.  

“Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive. But to be young was very heaven.” 

 (William Wordsworth, The Prelude) 




I still remember his comment when I surprised myself and many others and got a 1st in finals in 1989: “Very well deserved Alan, now what’s next?” 

So what’s next is a 30 years and counting career as a development economist. I feel sure that none of that would have happened without Peter. I literally owe him everything. 

So my most heartfelt condolences to his family and many friends around the world. 

Unfortunately this bloody virus doesn’t discriminate…. 

But we’ll beat it in memory of the late, great PJNS and all those others whose lives will be tragically cut short by this terrible pandemic. 

A luta continua – estamos juntos! 

[The struggle continues – we stand together!] 

Alan Harding (PPE 1986)




I was among the first group of undergraduates taught by Peter when he arrived at College. I came up to read P.P.E. in 1968, so in our first year we were tutored by the amiable Gavin McCrone before he went off to run, as I remember it, the Scottish Statistical Office. Our first tutorials with Peter were astonishing. He seemed not much older than we were (which he wasn’t), and that was a shock. Even more amazing was his overwhelming energy, the warmth of his attention and the breadth of his knowledge. It was completely unlike any teaching experience I or, I suspect, countless others had ever experienced. He was like a genius friend who knew everything and just couldn’t wait to share and explain it all to you, as if there was nothing imaginable that could be more fun for him than spending the next hour or more in this way. I shared my tutorials with my old school friend, the late Anthony Browne, and these would sometimes take place in the garden of Peter’s house and would go on far beyond the appointed hour. Peter would never display disappointment at any expressed thought or analysis, no matter how hopeless. He would just pick it up and shape into something respectable and say how interesting he thought it.

 I kept up with him a bit over the years and that was always such a pleasure. Any encounter would produce that huge radiant smile and that characteristic explosion of interest in whatever one might have been doing, followed by observations from his own experiences and reading which would leave me awestruck at the privilege I had been given of being his pupil.

Jeremy Sillem (1968)




Peter was - and remains - a major inspiration to me. His energy and enthusiasm were a decisive influence when I chose to embark upon a career as an economist. In particular, Peter stood out in those days in Oxford by emphasizing the importance of dynamic models, where things happen over time, and that is what I have devoted my career to, both in research and in teaching. But beyond that, I remember Peter's tremendous sense of fun. Economics was very important to Peter, but never, as it were, serious. And so my work has never been quite serious either, but instead an endless source of entertainment, while still, I hope, dealing with matters of some importance.

I am currently professor of economics at Stockholm University. Previously I have been a faculty member at the University of Western Ontario (Canada), the University of Southampton (England) and Simon Fraser University (Canada). Without Peter, that career would have been unthinkable.

Paul Klein (1989)




I was very sad to hear of the passing of Peter Sinclair .My thoughts go out to his family and friends.My thoughts are also with those at BNC in these difficult times.

Alan Conrad (1972)




This is very sad news indeed.  We've lost a wonderful man and a gifted teacher.

He was my tutor in 1974-76, and I didn't naturally take to economics, but Peter was patient and gracious to me and managed to teach me more on the subject than I would have thought I could absorb.  Aside from that, Peter had another, rarer characteristic that set him apart from many teachers I have had:  He and I did not agree on many political issues that intersect with economics, and Peter never used his teaching position or his far greater knowledge of the subject to try to impose his own point of view.  He instead gently pointed out the disagreements, observed the delineation between fact and opinion, encouraged me to read texts that both supported and rebutted my views, and thereby encouraged me to come to my own conclusions.

I hope that you and others at the college are staying safe in these trying times.

Kim Landsman (1974)




Thank you for the email. I was so sad to read about Prof Peter Sinclair. In my 2nd year, he and I shared a "set" halfway up Staircase 12 - he had the main room for his tutoring and I had the smaller bedroom, looking out over the back of college. I would sometimes make him coffee when he first arrived in the morning, and we had an illicit understanding that I could play music as loud as I wanted as long as it didn`t disturb him or he didn`t like it! He was a delightful man and this brings home what an awful disease this is.

Rich Hughes (1981)




Such sad news about Peter Sinclair. I have nice memories of how kind he was to me when I came to Oxford to be interviewed- i was far from sophisticated then. Subsequently he was a very memorable member of college whilst i was a student. A lively and inspiring man.

Mark Prinsley (1975)




I was so sad to hear the news of Peter's death. He was an undergraduate at Corpus when I was at Brasenose and we knew each other then as well as having occasional contacts subsequently, including the recent 1509 gathering at The Royal Geographical Society.

As well as his self-evident intellectual power, he was a charming, friendly and witty man with a generosity of spirit and showing all of the better qualities of humanity. 

Please pass on my condolences to his family. I have happy memories of him and am pleased he touched my life.

Best wishes to all at the College to keep sane and safe

Stuart Saint (1964)




Thank you for telling me about Peter's passing. I'm incredibly sad to hear of it. My memories of Peter are of his care, his kindness, his enthusiasm, his brilliance. He always seemed so full of energy and life, I can't quite believe this news. I'd be grateful if you can add my name to any condolences sent on to his family, and please do let me know when the memorial service will be.

Michael Yates (1979)




The year Peter took up his post as Fellow and Tutor in Economics at Brasenose College, Oxford, I arrived as a callow undergraduate, to read Mathematics. After I switched to PPE at the start of my second term I first encountered Peter as my tutor in Principles of Economics. He was also my tutor in my second and third years.  

I recollect how tutorials went on for several hours, and how drained I felt afterwards: one had just been through an intense intellectual workout. All students with whom I compared notes about him were immensely impressed by his intellect, his cheerfulness and his ability to converse in numerous languages. 

I kept in touch with him both as a graduate student and after I took up my first academic appointment. He was very kind and helpful to me when I was a rookie lecturer. After I took up an academic appointment in the US and enrolled for a doctorate at Oxford, he was happy to be my supervisor. I returned to the UK in 1992, to Birmingham and Peter arrived in 1994, so we had been colleagues since then. It was, of course, a pleasure to have him as a colleague.  

His contribution to the teaching of economics in the UK (and beyond) was immense. He had an amazing ability to clarify abstruse economic arguments and models, and make clear their essential features. His knowledge of economics was huge. In a time when many of us work as specialists within narrow silos, he knew a massive amount about many different areas of economics, and was able to relate them in a way that no one else, in my experience, does.  

I would sometimes tell people that if one has met Peter, one would know one has met him! He would make an indelible impression in the best possible way. He really was the world’s nicest person, always showing a huge interest in his interlocutor, and one would inevitably emerge from a conversation with him feeling uplifted.  

When I last saw Peter, at a post-seminar dinner on the 4th March, he was in his usual good spirits.  

So many people in so many countries owe so much to Peter. Having known him for my entire adult life, in so many capacities and for so many decades, I am grieving for him as though I’ve lost a parent. My grief is assuaged to some extent by the thought that it has been an immense privilege to have known such an amazing man. 

John Fender (1970) Professor of Macroeconomics, University of Birmingham



 

That is very sad news indeed. Professor Sinclair was such a wonderful tutor when I was reading PPE in 1991-94

He was so infectiously enthusiastic about economics, his wonderful tutorials and lectures are a really vivid memory. He was obviously a brilliant economist but he was also an incredible teacher, I was thinking about the fabulous lectures he gave to the wider economics year after St Cross when I was thinking about the best way to teach my old children not too long ago. He made learning so interesting and fun

Thinking of his family and friends at Brasenose and elsewhere at this sad time, he will be sorely missed

James Dawson (1991)

 



What a loss is Peter Sinclair's passing. He was the rare combination of a brilliant mind and a wonderful gentleman. 

So many of us owe so much of our intellectual and personal development to him. As I made my way through life, I frequently thought of him as a great beacon. Please let me know if the college will be doing anything in his memory. 

Paul Higdon (1976)

 



Peter represented all that is good about scholarship and being part of a college community.  I fondly remember the first dinner I attended as a newly appointed College Lecturer, when I was fortunate to sit near Peter.  He was extremely encouraging, engaging and genuinely interested in one’s teaching, research and broader interests.  His modesty, intelligence and breadth of knowledge was remarkable.  Like so many others I will sorely miss Peter’s presence in College, especially in the SCR.  He was an exceptional man and I feel very fortunate to have known him.

Dave Popplewell (Emeritus Fellow, BNC)




We arrived as undergraduates at Brasenose in the same term that Peter started as a Tutorial Fellow in Economics, 50 years ago. Peter was only 5 years older than us. The fact that he had started undergraduate life as a classicist made this an even more remarkable achievement. 

He was joined in that first term by Vernon Bogdanor for Politics and by Michael Woods for Philosophy. Later John Foster taught us Moral Philosophy. They were a remarkable set of teaching fellows and as far as I know they had not a doctorate between them. Vernon, I remember was the toughest. I had come from a science background and essay writing was not my usual medium. In fact, today I might have been classified as dyslexic. But he instilled in me a love of the subject and my favourite pastime today is to read long historical tomes. I remember asking Vernon when he was Professor of Government whether he still did undergraduate tutorials and he told me that he not only did but that he found it most refreshing as undergraduates had a much broader interest than post-graduates and on average were brighter than post-graduates. 

Michael Woods could hardly have been employed in a University today. As far as I know he published only one monograph in his career, but he was a wonderful teacher and much loved in spite of his nervous shakes with his newer pupils – hence his nick name “Shakey”. Michael knew that most of us were not philosophers and he taught us how to write a philosophy essay. Sadly Michael died young but his memory is carried in through travel scholarships for Brasenose undergraduates funded by subscription. 

Peter was remarkable. He worked 70 hours a week preparing his tutorial work. He smoked like a chimney and clearly did not have time to exercise. He was affectionately nicknamed Puff the Magic Dragon. Tutorials were fun and stretched the mind. My enduring memory was a tutorial on financial arbitrage and the three types of trader – arbitrageurs, hedgers and speculators. I cannot remember the source but it was made clear that markets needed all three in order to reach an equilibrium. Today’s financial regulators could do well to remember this. Another area where Peter excelled was in Monetary Economics. He and Dick Smethurst gave a weekly seminar on the subject at BNC. Their discussion of the yield curve was seminal. He also was the senior member of the Addington Dining Club which hosted political speakers. 

Peter remained a friend of mine and my wife for the rest of his life as he did for so many of his ex-pupils. He and his first wife, Shelagh Heffernan, invited us to dinner in his Barbican flat and later by himself when he was widowed. My wife remembers him serving parsnips as a starter buttered, he told us, with “Danish butter”. They were delicious. He regularly turned up at a financial seminar which friends and I organised in the City and would always have something useful to say. He and Shelagh visited Trier when I was in Luxembourg and he later came out for a seminar I had organised traveling on to Trier, alone, to remember his last trip with Shelagh. 

More recently Peter organised groups to march for the Remain cause. Our group included Stephen Dorrell a former Secretary of State for Health and Chris Lowe the BBC presenter and journalist. Peter also wrote a little piece “10 Reasons to Vote Leave” which were somewhat tongue-in-cheek not to say sarcastic. Peter was so mild and amiable that he occasionally caught one off guard with the odd rather caustic remark on someone he thought unworthy. 

Peter was a regular attender at BNC Alumni events often with Jayne Ivimey, the artist and his second wife who was with him to the end. We hope she will remain in touch and carry on the friendship. 

David Clark (1970)




Yesterday evening I learned from his nephew that Peter Sinclair had died after spending some weeks in intensive care battling Covid19. The tide of emails and tweets today, as people heard this sad news, is testament to the overwhelming affection and respect so many feel for him.

My memories are typical of those people are emailing. I pitched up at Brasenose College, Oxford to read PPE at the age of 17, completely out of my depth socially and intellectually, although pretty sure I was going to become a philosopher and sit in a Parisian cafe all day reading and writing. Peter’s absolute vocation for teaching, his brilliance, his kindness, soon turned me into an economist. He’d sent pre-reading before we turned up – Roy Harrod’s biography of Keynes for instance (this pre-dated the publication of the Skidelsky books). In the first term all his students were driven in batches of four for afternoon tea at the Feathers Hotel in Woodstock. One of our group came from Kenya and Peter tried a bit of conversation in Swahili – my first experience with his knowledge of at least one phrase in every language he’d ever encountered.

In tutorials with Peter, even poor essays were kindly treated – one learned to interpret comments such as, “That’s very, very – very – interesting,” as signalling a terrible error. He was a brilliant teacher. His explanation of different social welfare functions is still vivid in my mind. He eviscerated the inefficiencies of the CAP by pointing out that at the time the EEC butter mountain weighed more than the population of Austria. He responded to any sign of mild student interest in anything by sending one off with additional readings, perfectly pitched, and embracing everything from classics to the latest books and papers. He scheduled one-to-one tutorials over breakfast in the cafe in Oxford market if one was very interested. He knew everything: whenever I’ve discussed any subject with him over the years, he was able to cite the entire literature and send me scurrying off to catch up on all the references. In meetings, he would listen carefully to the discussion then chip in with some deep and important point.

Unsurprisingly, his joy in teaching meant he has taught what seems like half the UK economics profession and a fair proportion of economists elsewhere in the world. This continued through his years as a Professor at Birmingham University and at the Bank of England’s Centre for Central Banking Studies. He was a driving force in the Royal Economic Society’s educational initiatives including the easter school for PhD students. Just before his illness and death he was writing chapters for a new online Office for National Statistics text on economic statistics – Joe Grice, who has known Peter for 50 years since his doctoral days at Nuffield, will shepherd those now.

We celebrated Peter’s formal retirement with a dinner in 2012 hosted by the then CEO of Standard Chartered, Peter Sands, with dozens of economists attending. There will be crowds at his memorial service, when crowds are allowed by this cruel disease to gather again.

For all his decisive influence on my intellectual formation – not just turning me into an economist but shaping my values and world view – I will always remember Peter’s kindness and warmth. It is a patient and loving person who puts up with a long-ago pupil and her young children dropping in for lunch at the Bank of England canteen. He was always genuinely delighted to see people.

Peter was devastated by the death of his first wife, Shelagh Heffernan, after her long illness. We were all overjoyed when he later found such happiness marrying Jayne Ivimey. My heart goes out to Jayne and all Peter’s family.

Diane Coyle (1978)

 



Like many of his former students, I was deeply shocked when I heard about Peter’s death from a Brasenose friend a few minutes ago.

I last saw Peter a month ago. It was a chance meeting on the train to Sheringham.  I was delighted to have the opportunity to catch up with someone whom I greatly appreciated, and thought about regularly. He was still passionate about current affairs, and humorous (disapproving of Scottish independence in a pretty convincing accent), and, as always courteous and modest. 

I have experienced his kindness on many occasions. The first time was on a nervous prospective visit to Brasenose in 1974. Subsequently, he was my moral as well as Economics tutor, and was always accessible and patient, never showing disapproval or, (though I imagine as he must have been tempted at times) frustration. He continued to show interest in our progress after Finals, and occasional meetings with him were always a pleasure.

Like many of his grateful students I would like to convey to you our deepest condolences, and let you know that we too feel a great sense of loss.

Etienne Duval (1976)

 


 

Jacqueline and I were very fortunate that our time in the Principal’s Lodgings coincided with Peter’s fuller participation in the life of the college. We had, of course, not known him as Fellow and Tutor in Economics in the period before we came to Brasenose.. He was an extraordinary combination of wisdom, learning and enthusiasm. That latter quality was immediately engaging and could be deceptively boyish but there was nothing superficial about it. He drew people in and engaged us all with his thinking and the depths of his experience. Beyond economics, his intellectual range and depth of knowledge were amazing – I still wonder about his persuasive views on the etymology of ‘Brasenose’. Not too long ago, knowing of my interests in ancient economic history, he engineered an invitation for me to speak at the lunchtime seminar for staff at the Bank of England. Great fun and a clear demonstration of the affection and respect in which he was held there. The college benefited hugely from his wisdom and commitment in recent years – and he and Jayne enriched our social life too. We already miss him terribly.

Alan Bowman (Emeritus Professor, Brasenose College)

 



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