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Monday, 19 October 2015

Commemorating Max Watson

David Madden (Senior Member, St Antony's College, Oxford)

An afternoon seminar was held at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, on Friday 16 October, to commemorate the career and work of Max Watson, a Fellow of both St Antony’s and Wolfson College, Oxford.

The event was entitled “A Tale of Three Cities”: the cities in question being Washington, Brussels and Oxford: reflecting Max’s time with the IMF, the European Commission and Oxford University respectively. The first session also covered Max’s time with INSIAD, a prestigious Paris-based organisation; while the third also swept up those who had known Max from boyhood (Lester Corps), and one of those closest to Max and his later work (John Howell). The three sessions were chaired by David Vines, Jonathan Scheele and David Madden. The event was conceived and organised by Julie Adams.

The first session was addressed by Ajal Chopra, Charles Enoch, Russell Kincaid and Reza Moghadam: who all spoke with knowledge, insight and touches of humour about Max’s time at the IMF, and in particular about his formative role in understanding and helping solve the Latin American debt crisis.

The second part mainly covered Max’s work together with the Commission and the Irish authorities in helping overcome the Irish debt crisis. Speakers were Gillian Edgeworth, Valerie Herzberg and Klaus Regling. It also demonstrated how highly Max’s continuing advice to the Commission over the years was regarded in Brussels.

The third session was devoted to Max’s life at Oxford; and in particular to his work for SEESOX and his creation of PEFM. Contributors included Othon Anastasakis, Adam Bennett, and Kalypso Nicolaidis. Peter Sanfey spoke about the collaboration between SEESOX/PEFM and the EBRD; and Altin Tanku about the Cooperation Agreement between SEESOX and the Bank of Albania in which Max played so great a role.

Throughout the event, including the many contributions from the floor, there were continuous signs of deep affection and respect for Max; and amazement at the amount and breadth of what he achieved. Common themes and epithets running through the many presentations were that C Max Watson was Creative, Multi-Skilled, Aristotelian, Xenophilic, Witty, Active, Trouble-Taking, Self-Starting, Omniscient and Notably Nice.

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