The passing of an eminent US economist would not be of great note in Australia usually, unless his name was David Hale.

The sudden death of this renowned global commentator should not go unnoticed on the other side of the world because he was a true friend to this country and played an important part in our recent economic history.

David Hale is arguably the first US economist to take Australia seriously and to champion the emergence of this country as a global player back in the 1980's.

I first met him in the mid 80's when he wrote a seminal report on the correlation between winning the America's Cup and the rise of Australian business on a world stage. It was a prophetic piece and captured the zietgiest of the moment.

Americans were discovering us through the tourism ads telling them to "put another shrimp on the barbie". The movie Crocodile Dundee made us part of the popular culture.

But it was also the era of Alan Bond and a host of other Aussie entrepreneurs buying up everything from beer companies to Fifth Avenue retailers to movie studios and media properties. More importantly, it was the era of the Hawke-Keating reforms and our coming of age which allowed business to flourish, and often fail spectacularly, around the world.

In fact, then Treasurer Keating did not always agree with Hale's outspoken commentary and acerbic criticism. David was an early adopter of the catchy sound bite which could make dry economic argument media friendly.

He genuinely loved this country, visited us regularly and was always happy to talk to media and politicians and local buisnesses with his canny insights.

Of course, he didnt mind lecturing everyone else as well and addressed every major body from the World Economic Forum to every other major economic conference you could imagine.

He was a strong supporter of the Australian American Leadership Dialogue from its inception in 1993 and even threw open his house with his wife Lyric Hughs Hale to welcome delegates at their 2008 visit to Chicago.

I shall always remember him in those heady days of the 1980's when he was beginning to relish all things Australian, meeting for drinks into the wee small hours as he famously existed on only a few hours sleep a night. There was always a twinkle in his eye and a hearty laugh and he truly became an honorary Australian.

He was a friend, and an important part of introducing us to the world of which we are now an intregal part.

He will be missed.