Jack I. Stone
Jack I. Stone

September 9, 1920 - November 1, 2018
Born in St. Cloud, MN
Resided in Millersville, MD


Jack I. Stone, an internationally noted economist who focused on economic development challenges and trade issues and who was instrumental in launching the concept of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs) as a category deserving special attention, died on November 1st after a long illness. He was 98.

In a career that spanned seven decades, Mr. Stone focused on the unique economic development challenges faced by countries with geographic or political disadvantages and on ways to improve their prospects through better trade terms and improved transport access to major markets and trading hubs. Mr. Stone is considered by many as the “father” of the least developed countries concept which helped focus special attention on the often unique challenges faced by the poorest countries on the planet.

First as director of Research at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in Geneva in the 1970s and later as Director of UNCTAD’s Special Program on Least Developed, Land-Locked and Island Developing Countries, Mr. Stone was instrumental in overcoming obstacles to and in developing political support for the Least Developed Countries concept. At the time, there was opposition to the LDC designation from a number of larger and better off developing countries who were concerned the new designation would weaken international support for their own development. Mr. Stone kept a focus on the unique challenges faced by the world’s LDCs and built support for additional measures to assist these countries by using his position to champion rigorous analytical research, field studies and expert group reports that clearly laid out the unique impediments to growth often shared by the poorest of developing countries. These efforts helped to culminate in the First United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries held in Paris in 1981 and which Mr. Stone attended. At the conference, an action program was unanimously adopted containing both international support measures for LDCs and guidelines for domestic action by the LDCs. With LDCs accounting for some 12% of the world’s population, the UN has held three additional conferences on the LDCs since then focusing on eliminating structural impediments to their growth.

While the concept of LDCs became firmly established, Mr. Stone often weighed in with his view that the category should focus on countries with solvable trade, transport and geographic challenges rather than domestic political shortcomings which could cause an otherwise relatively wealthy nation to qualify for the added attention the category provided. He also expressed concerns that the category might become too broad to be truly meaningful although he recognized the inherent political nature of the category and the need for critical mass to generate support for the category and to give it political weight.

Born in St. Cloud Minnesota on September 9, 1920, Mr. Stone’s early years coincided with the Great depression which helped fuel his interest in economic issues and his family was forced by economic necessity to move first to Seattle, where he spent most of his formative years, and then to Kansas City. Mr. Stone received an A.B. degree in 1941 from the University of Chicago where he majored in Political Science. There he decided that most political issues were grounded in economic challenges and focused increasingly on economics in graduate studies he began at the University of Chicago.

In 1946, Mr. Stone joined the post war U.S. Military Government in Germany as an Economist and Statistician for the High Commission and Marshall Plan Agency where he worked for 8 years. His time there, including witnessing the Berlin Airlift first hand, gave him an early insight into practical challenges in development economics. Mr. Stone returned to the US in 1954 and enrolled in the Graduate School of Public Administration at Harvard University as a mid-career Littauer Fellow. He then studied at the Department of Economics at Harvard, completing all requirements for a Ph.D. in economics except for his thesis. Mr. Stone’s practical bent and interest in applying economic theory to real world problems led him to return to the working world. From 1959-1961, Mr. Stone worked in Puerto Rico for Fomento Economico, the Economic Development Administration of Puerto Rico, where he directed two major surveys of US investor interest in manufacturing in Puerto Rico which became the main guides for Puerto Rico’s industrial promotion and advertising efforts for more than a decade. Mr. Stone then returned to the Mainland US and, after working for a while on the Upper Midwest Economic Study and teaching at the University of Minnesota, in 1963 Mr. Stone returned to government service at the State Department as a Senior Economist and Deputy Chief of the Economic Program Division of the Office of Policy Planning at the US Agency for International Development.

In 1966, Mr. Stone moved to Paris to join the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development as Head of the Financial Policies Division of the Development Assistance Committee. There he helped negotiate a revised agreement on terms of aid and worked on Indonesian debt rescheduling agreements. In 1970, Mr. Stone moved to Geneva to take up the position of Head of Research for UNCTAD.

Mr. Stone returned to the US in 1981 and led an active career as an economic consultant well into his 80s and early 90s. Projects he focused on were varied although always related to his long experience in development economics. Projects ranged from assignments with the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States’ Investment Promotion Service to heading missions to improve transport links in the land-locked transit countries of Asia. Mr. Stone remained active in working on issues related to the LDCs in consulting assignments for UNCTAD as a Consultant to the Executive Secretary of the 2nd UN Conference of the LDCs in 1990 and as a Member of an UNCTAD Ministerial Panel on the Requirements of the LDCs in 1994.

Never believing in the concept of retirement and unwilling to let age slow him down, Mr. Stone remained active his entire life, professionally, socially, and as an avid traveller. Even following the death of his wife, Jane Livermore Stone, in 2000 which shocked him profoundly, Mr. Stone was ultimately able to rebound and remain active. Mr. Stone continued to work well into his 80s and 90s, presenting a paper at the International Ministerial Conference of Landlocked and Transit Developing Countries in Almaty Kazakhstan in 2003, and, at the age of 93, as an active participant at the 50th Anniversary celebrations of UNCTAD in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mr. Stone was a life-long learner often able to bond with people of varied interests with detailed knowledge of their fields. His broad interests coupled with an ability to see problems from a number of angles likely contributed to his success. Maintaining meaningful friendships across a wide variety of age groups also enabled him to remain professionally active well into his later years. Mr. Stone was also actively involved in a variety of professional associations including the American Economic Association, the National Economists Club, the American Foreign Service Association, and the Harvard Club at the National Press Club.

Mr. Stone is survived by his son, Daniel Walter Stone, and two grandsons, Jacob Rafael Stone and Cody Juan Stone.



Hardesty Funeral Home-Annapolis
12 Ridgely Avenue
Annapolis, MD US 21401
November 9, 2018
1:00 PM
Hillcrest Memorial Gardens
1911 Forest Drive
Annapolis, MD US 21401
November 9, 2018