On the evening of March 7, 2008, the New Zealand Econometric Study Group Meeting held its Conference Dinner. The venue was the Owen Glenn Building, the spectacular new home of the Auckland Business School and the Department of Economics at the University of Auckland. The meeting was organized by my colleagues, co-authors, and close companions Donggyu Sul and Chirok Han. Chirok did double duty by videotaping the evening, Donggyu coordinated festivities with consummate skill, and we settled in to a memorable evening.
Econometricians, old friends, former students, two of my former teachers, faculty, and senior administrators were gathered together to celebrate my 60th birthday. Many had traveled long distances from overseas and navigated busy schedules to come to this event. It was a singular honor. My wife and daughter were with me. Opening speeches from Bas Sharp and John McDermott broke the ice with endearing tales from the past and jokes about some mysterious hole in my vita. I stood at the front table, looked out, and felt a glow of fellowship envelop me. I was fortunate indeed. Life had bestowed many gifts. The warmth of family, friends, and collegiality were at the top of the list. My education and early training in New Zealand were a clear second.
What follows is a graduate student story. It draws on the first part of the speech I gave that evening at the NZESG conference dinner. It mixes personal reflections with recollections of the extraordinary New Zealanders who shaped my thinking as a graduate student and beginning researcher—people who have had an enduring impact on my work and career as an econometrician. The story traces out these human initial conditions and unit roots that figure in my early life of teaching and research.