Phillips Machine: Hydraulic Flows and Macroeconomics

 

From The Moniac A Hydromechanical Analog Computer of the 1950s

Most analog computers, as IEEE Control Systems Magazine readers are reminded by the June 2005 special section, were firmly based on mechanical or electrical principles. The ‘Moniac,’ or Phillips Machine as it is more commonly known (figures 1 and 2), was different. An analog simulator of a national economy, the Moniac used the flow of colored water to represent the dynamics of the flow of money. Its creation was a result of the inspired collaboration between the electrical-engineer-turned-economist A.W.H. (Bill) Phillips and his economist colleague Walter Newlyn.

 

Phillips was born in New Zealand in 1914 and as a young man traveled through Australia, China, and Russia, reaching England just before the outbreak of World War II. He spent three and a half years in Japanese POW camps, where, under an ever-present threat of execution, he managed to construct, hide, and maintain a radio receiver. After the war he returned to London to study sociology as a mature undergraduate at the London School of Economics (LSE). Becom- ing disillusioned by sociology but fascinated by economics, he stayed on to do graduate work in the latter area. As an undergraduate, he managed only a pass degree in sociology, attributed to his chain-smoking habit, which detracted from his performance in three-hour examinations. Nevertheless, Phillips subsequently rose to full professor in economics in less than a decade. He died in 1975, and his work was celebrated a quarter of a century later in a collected edition [3], which includes all of his published papers, together with sev- eral unpublished ones. The volume also includes commentaries by contemporaries and others, as well as a detailed historical assessment.

 

 

THE ORIGINS OF THE MACHINE

The hydraulic simulator became a reality as a result of a conversation between Bill Phillips and fellow economist Walter Newlyn in 1949. Newlyn, born in 1915, had left school without qualifications, but, after part-time self-study and army service in France and India, was admitted to the LSE a year before Phillips, where they became close friends. In 1949 Newlyn had just taken up a junior academic post at Leeds Uni- versity. He later became a distinguished monetary theorist, held a number of important posts in Africa, and was chair of development economics at Leeds University from 1967 to 1978.

While the notion of representing the flow of money in an economy by the flow of water was not new, Phillips wrote a draft paper outlining how a physical device could actually be built. At the heart of such a device would be the hydraulic system shown in Figure 3, where the upper pipe represents the flow to the market, while the lower pipe represents the flow from the market, thus altering the level of the stocks tank. The openings of the two valves are determined by the supply and demand curves.

 

Key Sources of Research:

 

The Secrets Hidden by Two-Dimensionality: Modelling the Economy as a Hydraulic System
Mary S. Morgan

Marcel J. Boumans

1998

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1496354

 

 

A System Dynamics View of the Phillips Machine

William H. Ryder

 

http://www.systemdynamics.org/conferences/2009/proceed/papers/P1038.pdf

 

 

A superb explanatory device’ The MONIAC, an early hydraulic analog computer

 

Anna Corkhill

 

http://library.unimelb.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/1379009/06_Corkhill-MONIAC10.pdf

 

 

Everything Is Under Control

 

Brian Hayes

 

http://www.americanscientist.org/libraries/documents/2009491133257238-2009-05Hayes.pdf

 

 

The Rube Goldberg Machine That Mastered Keynesian Economics

http://nautil.us/blog/the-rube-goldberg-machine-that-mastered-keynesian-economics

 

 

Mechanical Models in Economic Dynamics

A. W. Phillips

 

ftp://139.82.198.57/mgarcia/Modelos%20mecanicos%20em%20economia.pdf

 

 

The Moniac
A Hydromechanical Analog Computer of the 1950s

 

CHRIS BISSELL

http://oro.open.ac.uk/7942/1/04064850.pdf

 

 

Like Water for Money

By STEVEN STROGATZ

JUNE 2, 2009 10:15 PM

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/02/guest-column-like-water-for-money/?_r=0

 

 

A.W. H.(Bill) PHilliPs, MBE And THE MOniAC

 

http://www.rbnz.govt.nz/-/media/ReserveBank/Files/Publications/Factsheets%20and%20Guides/factsheet-bill-phillips-and-the-moniac.pdf

 

 

Business Cycles in the Phillips Machine

Allan McRobie

February 13, 2011

http://www.assru.economia.unitn.it/files/DP_02_2011.pdf

 

 

 

STABILISATION POLICY – PHILLIPS BEFORE THE ‘PHILLIPS CURVE’

Katherine Moos – K. Vela Velupillai

 

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Katherine_Moos/publication/270396057_STABILISATION_POLICY__PHILLIPS_BEFORE_THE_PHILLIPS_CURVE/links/54a9cd560cf257a6360d59e8.pdf

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO THE PHILLIPS MACHINE & THE ANALOGUE COMPUTING TRADITION IN ECONOMICS

 

K. Vela Velupillai

December 2010

 

http://www.assru.org/files/DP8.pdf

 

 

THE PHILLIPS MACHINE, THE ANALOGUE COMPUTING TRADITION IN ECONOMICS AND COMPUTABILITY

K. Vela Velupillai

March 2011

 

http://www.assru.org/files/DP_12_2011.pdf

 

 

The Moniac, Modeling, and Macroeconomics

David Colander,

2011

 

http://www.assru.org/files/DP_04_2011.pdf

 

 

Economics, Control Theory, and the Phillips Machine

Brian Hayes

2011

http://www.assru.org/files/DP_01_2011.pdf

 

 

Chasing a Few Hares A.W.H. Phillips and his times

 

K. Vela Velupillai

March 2016

 

http://www.assru.org/files/DP_6_2016_I.pdf

 

 

The Phillips Machine Demonstrated by Allan McRobie

http://www.sms.cam.ac.uk/media/1094078

 

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Author: Mayank Chaturvedi

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