Introduction: Is the Genie Back in the Bottle?

Author:Dahl, Carol A.
 
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We chose a title that remarks one of Professor Adelman's favorite analogies and also serves as a sign of the times. He first used the expression "the genie is out of the bottle" in 1971 in a piece for the New York Times (Smith, 1971)--a comment on OPEC's recent success at using threats to raise the price of oil during the so-called Tehran-Tripoli agreements of 1971. He explained the analogy in simple terms: "the producing countries have been extremely successful in using the weapon of a threatened concerted stoppage, and they cannot be expected to put it away (Adelman, 1972). Nor did they put it away. U.S. oil production had peaked in 1970 and markets were tightening. Already in February of 1971, Algeria had successfully nationalized 51% of French oil concessions. In December of 1971, Libya nationalized British Petroleum concessions. In 1972, Iraq nationalized the Iraq Petroleum Company. In 1973, Kuwait, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Nigeria, and Saudi Arabia began nationalization, the Shah of Iran did not renew the 1954 operating agreement between a consortium of oil companies and Iran, while Libya and Iraq continued to nationalize. Venezuela nationalized in 1976 (Dahl, 2015).

Adelman used a variant of his genie expression again as the title of his book, The Genie Out of the Bottle: World Oil Since 1970, published in 1995. But the Genie was not always so beneficent and his book chronicles the tensions between market/monopoly (OPEC) and depletion/technical innovation over more than two decades. Again today we see that technology is trumping depletion with increasing U.S. production using new shale technology. The Genie may now be back in the bottle, but rest assured that it will always be waiting to get out. We might also think of Professor Adelman, who spouted wisdom rather than wishes, as the Genie.

Professor Adelman (Morry to his friends) touched the lives and hearts of many in his 96 years. Each of the editors of this volume volunteered for this project because of their long standing appreciation of Morry and his work, and each of us is able to offer a few personal reflections:

Carol Dahl recalls her first awareness of Professor Adelman's work in 1973. Gasoline lines were long, tempers were short. While looking for a thesis topic at the University of Minnesota, she read his 1972 book, The World Petroleum Market. After the seemingly endless and complicated mathematical models found in the literature, his attention to history, institution, and data were a return to the real world. It began a love affair with petroleum markets that lasts to this day. Carol has read and cited many of Professor Adelman's works over the years, applied his methodology to costing oil and gas reserves and had the opportunity to get to know him better during a semester sabbatical stay at the MIT Energy Lab in the fall of 1989.

Mike Lynch first met Morry as a researcher at the MIT Energy Laboratory in the late 1970s, after having relied on the concepts in The World Petroleum Market in his computer modeling work. Mike continued a long association, assisting Morry with his research and writing for three decades. Professor Adelman taught Mike (and so many others) the value of careful scholarship, as well as a degree of irreverence.

Jim Smith first encountered the Genie in 1974 when he enrolled in Professor Adelman's graduate course on petroleum economics (Econ 14.23). After the first class meeting, Jim took a copy of The World Petroleum Market with him on the bus to browse during his 30-minute ride home. Some 45 minutes into the ride, only after disengaging from Professor Adelman's discussion of the concept and measurement of "reserves," did Jim realize that he had missed his stop--by five miles.

We continue our tribute to him in this introductory article in 3 sections. I. Adelman, the Man; II. Adelman, the Energy Scholar and his Work; and III. Adelman and the Articles in this Issue.

  1. ADELMAN THE MAN (A SHORT BIO)

    Professor Adelman, the man, had a pint-sized frame but with intellect and wit that came in gallons (As a courtesy to our more metrically sophisticated readers, that would be about 0.253 and 3.785 liters, respectively). He was born in 1917 to David and Lena (Alpert) Adelman in New York City, where he grew up. He had one sister Sara Adelman (Lewis). His wife was the late Millicent (Linsen) Adelman, he had one daughter (Barbara Adelman) and one son (the late Larry Adelman) (Levine Chapel, 2014; Geni 2015).

    According to a longtime friend, (Kindleberger, 1987) Adelman got a bachelor's degree from City College of NY (1938) and got a job as a high school social science teacher. After Pearl Harbor, he took a job in Washington D.C. as an economist on the War Production Board for a short time before entering the Navy and being shipped off to the South Pacific. While serving on a landing ship, he voraciously read and absorbed a stack of classic economics texts including Marshall, Schumpeter, and Keynes, and became hooked on economics and market principles for life. He returned to attend Harvard on the GI bill, completing his Ph.D. in Economics in 1948. He split the prestigious Wells Prize for the best thesis submitted to the Department of Economics in 1949-50. That award (almost $5,000 in today's prices) was for his dissertation "The Dominant Firm with Special Reference to the A&P Tea Company." The prize landed his work in the prestigious Harvard Economic Studies Series and displayed the beginnings of his lifelong interest in industrial organization, government regulation, antitrust, and market structure (Harvard Crimson, 1950).

    Professor Adelman joined the faculty of the expanding economics department at MIT. For the next decade he pursued his interest in industrial structure and concentration. With an iconoclastic bent he often went counter to popular wisdom of the time. He argued that price discrimination could intensify rather that reduce competition. He considered the effect and measurement of vertical integration and industrial concentration along with the role of antitrust legislation. He found that industrial concentration rose little over the 1930s-1950s (Adelman 1949, 1951, 1955; de Jong and Shepherd, 2007). Adelman (1959) defended A&P against antitrust claims and argued that their lower prices rose from economies of scale and efficiency that intensified rather than reduced competition (MIT News, 2014).

    To our good fortune, in the next decade, he turned his analytical and inquring mind to natural gas and petroleum, which became his focus and the topic of his most extensive research for the remainder of his professional life. But more on that in the next section.

    He remained on the faculty of MIT from 1948-1987, attaining the rank of full professor in 1969 (Johnson, 1999). He taught Industrial Organization and Government Regulation among other courses. Over the years he was advisor to 35 students at MIT and a mentor to many others Duarte (2013). His Ph.D. advisees, many of whom also became prominent in the field of energy economics, include Richard L. Gordon, C. C. (Ching) Chen, Martin B. Zimmerman, Paul G. Bradley, Leslie Cookenboo, Zenon Zannetos, Arthur Wright, Jim Hanson, Leonard Waverman, and Paul Leo Eckbo.

    The warm relationship he had with his students is confirmed by many quotes from them on and offline. We see mention of a kind and nurturing mentor, warm heart, broad smile, an open door, generosity with his time and support. Indeed former students and colleagues put together a Festschrift to honor his retirement (Gordon et al. 1987).

    Professor Adelman was passionate about educating others about the functioning of international energy markets and was a founding member of the International Association for Energy Economics (IAEE), becoming its third President in 1980-81 and remaining a member for the rest of his life. He presented papers at more than a dozen of their conferences, most often at the annual international conference. Professor Adelman's last presentation (Adelman and Watkins. 2003b) was in Prague, when he was 86. He received the IAEE "Outstanding Contributions to the Profession Award" in 1982 (IAEE, 2015). The American Institute of Mining (AIME) had already bestowed upon him in 1979 its prestigious Mineral Economics award (Prabook, 2015).

    Professor Adelman has also been honored by having things named after him. For example, The Morris A. Adelman Professorship of Management was implemented at MIT. The United States Association for Energy Economics (USAEE) founded the Adelman Frankel award in 1995 to honor Morris Adelman and Paul Frankel. In addition, Adelman was himself the recipient of that award in 1996 for his "unique and innovative contributions to the field of energy economics" (USAEE, 2015).

    He was actively involved in the MIT Energy Laboratory and its Center for Energy Policy Research founded in 1974, which later broadened its scope to become the Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research (CEEPR) in the early 1990s (CEEPR, 2015), and which subsequently became part of the MIT Energy Initiative in 2006. Professor Adelman served on the MIT Energy Lab's steering committee from 1974-1977, helped to define its agenda early on and continued his affiliation with them for decades after his retirement by contributing to their workshops and working papers, which are included in the references (CEEPR, 2014).

    Professor Adelman served on various editorial boards for academic journals including Energy Economics, Energy Policy, and Resources and Energy as well as having been North American Editor of the Journal of Industrial Organization. He has also served on numerous committees including the Federal Power Commission's Executive Advisory Committee, the Gas Research Institute's Advisory Council, the American Economic Association's Advisory Committee to the Bureau of the Census, the National Academy of Science's Panel on Natural Gas Statistics, the American Petroleum Institute Coordinating Committee on...

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