U.K. City Economist and Fathom Co-Founder Danny Gabay Dies at 47

  • Gabay died from ‘aggressive form of brain cancer’ this week
  • ‘His passing is a great loss,’ Fathom’s Erik Britton says

Danny Gabay, former Bank of England economist and co-founder of Fathom Consulting, has died. He was 47.

Gabay passed away earlier this week from a “particularly aggressive form of brain cancer” first diagnosed 5 1/2 years ago, Fathom said in an e-mailed statement on Thursday. He successfully fought the illness until the tumor returned last summer and appeared again in the last couple of months.

Danny Gabay

Photographer: Craig Easton via Fathom Consulting

“His passing is a great loss not only to his family, friends and colleagues, but also to the wider economics community,” said Erik Britton, co-director at Fathom. “He’s going to be very sorely missed by all of us.”

Gabay proved popular in the media and in front of City audiences in London’s financial district for his punchy rhetoric and willingness to take on officials such as Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne and BOE Governor Mark Carney. He advised both to find better ways to reduce the U.K.’s debt burden without crippling the economy and criticized the authorities for group think and repeating strategies that had caused the financial crisis.

Challenge Policy

He rejected Osborne’s 2013 plan to boost home ownership by helping support mortgages for those with limited cash, arguing “if you were to ask me to design a policy that would guarantee maximum damage to growth and Britain’s credit rating, this would be it.” In the same year he blamed Carney’s easy monetary policy for enabling debt to be run up.

“If you’ve ever tried to give up smoking, it’s painful, tedious and puts you in a bad mood,” he told Scotland on Sunday in 2013. “The simplest thing you can do to stop the cravings is have another” cigarette. “That’s what we’ve done -- we’ve given up the rebalancing and we’re back on the” cigarettes, “and we’re borrowing to pay for them,” he said.

After working at JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the BOE, Gabay set up London-based Fathom in 2003 along with fellow ex-U.K. central bank employees Shamik Dhar and Andrew Clare. At Fathom, Gabay helped recruit former Monetary Policy Committee members such as DeAnne Julius, Charles Goodhart and Sushil Wadhwani for regular seminars to challenge current thinking.

Career Path

At the BOE, Gabay was a manager in the Monetary Analysis department and one of the authors of the central bank’s quarterly Inflation Report. Earlier in his career, Gabay was an economic adviser to government ministers including Virginia Bottomley and Michael Heseltine.

At Fathom he was unafraid to pitch innovative proposals. At the height of the financial crisis in January 2009, he said the government should purchase houses on the verge of repossession to add money to the economy and save families from being thrown out of their homes. In 2012, he suggested the Treasury establish a “bad bank” to buy distressed mortgage-backed assets at a discount.

“The economy will never be free to resume its growth path until the paper shackles of its intertwined debts are cut,” he said.

More recently, he turned his sights on China, saying in November 2015 that he “bows to nobody” in his pessimism about the world’s second largest economy. He predicted the People’s Bank of China would eventually cut its benchmark rate to zero, although it has yet to do so.

Born in 1969 in Leeds, England, Gabay lived in Israel until he was six. After returning to the U.K., the lifelong supporter of Leeds United Football Club studied economics at Queen Mary College in London.

He is survived by his wife Alex and their two children. Fathom will make a donation in Gabay’s memory to the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead, London, where he spent his last few days, Britton said.

“Danny was a sharp, astutely intelligent, loving and caring individual with an outrageous sense of humor,” his sister Dalia said in the statement. “He was also a huge inspiration to many. However, his greatest achievement in life, in fact, his pride and absolute joy, were his two beautiful children that he has left behind.”

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