Economists at Large was founded in 1989 when Founder and Principal Economist, Francis Grey, saw the need many environment and community groups have for advice on economic issues. Then, as now, too many environmental and social issues descended into simplistic “environment vs economy” arguments, with the public interest invariably losing out. Francis left his job with a major stockbroking firm and worked as Economist at Large with clients as diverse as the Geelong Environment Council and the Government of Slovenia, helping them present their ideas in economic terms.
Francis Grey, Economist at Large, became Economists at Large in the year 2000 when Senior Economist, Simon O’Connor, joined Francis to work on a series of research projects relating to the economics of whale watching and whaling. Whaling and whale watching economics is still a topic of special interest; in 2009 our report Whale Watching Worldwide was launched at the International Whaling Commission by the International Fund for Animal Welfare. The report was based on an extensive survey of whale watching businesses in 119 countries.
In the late ‘00s Economists at Large expanded again with Craig Robertson, Rod Campbell, Tristan Knowles and several others joining the team. Tristan and Rod now work as full time economists and managers of Economists at Large, while Francis, Simon and Craig play senior, advisory roles.
More recently a team of volunteers, including university students and senior public-service economists, have been involved in preparation of reports on a pro-bono basis. Volunteers are able to contribute depending on their experience and time availability. Young volunteers gain experience working with a consultancy while senior economists contribute to the public interest through their professional skills.