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Geoffrey Colin Harcourt

Geoffrey Colin Harcourt
University of Cambridge; University of New South Wales · Faculty of Economics; School of Economics

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Publications

Publications (405)
Preprint
Full-text available
A survey of the correspondence between Joan Robinson and Paul Samuelson. THIS IS A SECOND DRAFT OF WHAT WAS PREVIOUSLY CALLED "TO SHIPS PASSING IN THE NIGHT".
Research
Full-text available
In major advanced economies, including Australia, independent central banks have become established institutions. Yet there are reasons why the sustained presence of such an institution in a democratic society should be challenged. This paper considers the arguments usually advanced for central bank independence, and the underlying arguments for a...
Article
Full-text available
Roger Backhouse remarks in “MIT and the Other Cambridge” (History of Political Economy 46, supplement) that the capital theory controversy came to be seen by most of the economics profession as a waste of time. Joan Robinson’s 1953 paper “The Production Function and the Theory of Capital” started the controversy. An abbreviated version, published i...
Article
After an editorial that motivates the symposium on the book by Arrigo Opocher and Ian Steedman, there are comments by five scholars (in alphabetical order). These deal with capital theoretic issues (Bellino), the labour demand curve (Bidard), the zero-excess-profit position in alternative theories of value (Fratini), the role of intermediate as opp...
Chapter
Harcourt’s experience with 57 collaborators has been both happenstance and deterministic. His record contains an impressive list of interactions that include two types of collaborators: present or past graduate students, and internal or external colleagues. Harcourt’s adventures in collaboration have involved personalities in the post-Keynesian wor...
Chapter
This chapter contains an outline of Robin Matthews’s life, education, and career. The first section discusses his principal publications during his first years at Cambridge (1949–1965). The highlight publication of his Oxford years (1965–1975) was his explanation in 1968 of why Britain had had full employment since the war. Section 4 covers his yea...
Chapter
This chapter starts with a short account of Austin Robinson’s life and career. It then discusses his schooling and early Cambridge days; his Christian beliefs and their link to his writings on African economic development in the 1930s; his response to The General Theory; his wartime years in Whitehall and after; his long association with the Intern...
Article
In this note Geoff Harcourt offers his views, via a face to face interview, on a wide range of issues relating to the discipline of economics. He recalls his time as a student at University of Melbourne, his choice of doctoral study and experiences at University of Cambridge, his original intellectual influences and affiliation, and his contributio...
Chapter
In addition to his own contributions to economic thought, Tadeusz Kowalik has added substantially to our knowledge of three great Polish economists, Rosa Luxemburg, Oskar Lange and Michał Kalecki. He edited collections of their works and has contributed to our understanding of their contemporary relevance. He co-authored with Kalecki a sequel to th...
Chapter
This paper examines some features of The General Theory that remain relevant 75 years after its publication. Keynes showed that even in a competitive economy with perfectly flexible prices, wages and interest rates, market prices could not guarantee full employment and that the achievement of full employment would only be a fluke. In other words, h...
Chapter
Joan Robinson and Michał Kalecki were two of the intellectual giants of twentieth-century economics, and their contributions over a significant range of issues have had major impacts, particularly on heterodox economics. This chapter examines the significant communications between them, concentrating on the major cross-influences which were apparen...
Chapter
In this article, we consider the mainsprings of John Nevile’s many contributions to economics. John has repeatedly argued that because ’economic actions, institutions and policies affect people’, they have an ethical dimension (Hawtrey and Nevile, 1986: 1), and he has stressed the importance of understanding the value judgements on which economics...
Chapter
Veblen’s and Commons’s contributions are outlined and related to the approaches to economics and political actions over the years of the author. Commons’s philosophy and pragmatic contribution to economic and political institutions in order to help create decent living conditions for wage-earners within capitalism are reflected in the author’s reth...
Chapter
I was very sad to learn today (7th August 2012) that my dear friend and long-time colleague, Phyllis Deane, had died. She and I were colleagues in the Cambridge Faculty in the 1960s. She supervised my Part I Trinity Hall pupils in economic history and I supervised her Part II Newnham pupils for the principles and applications papers in Part II. Whe...
Chapter
Peter died in Perth of cancer on 15 February 2012 at the age of 60. It was my privilege and pleasure to have had Peter as my Master’s student and colleague in Adelaide in the 1970s. This memoir therefore is mainly about Peter’s Adelaide years. We kept in touch when he went to Western Australia, especially during his years at Curtin, but we only met...
Chapter
The first essay in this volume is a very generous and gracious article on the part my Christian faith plays in my work as an economist. It is not my place to comment on this essay except to provide a little historical background. From the first year in which I studied economics, in 1950 at the University of Western Australia, I had no doubt that a...
Chapter
I was sad to hear that Frank Hahn had died. He and I were colleagues on and off at Cambridge from the early 1960s. We had many clashes (and three semi-public debates about approaches to economic analysis), he thought me a bit of a dill (Oz for thick), but I was fond of him and had great respect for him as an important intellectual influence in the...
Chapter
Allan Barton and one of the authors of this tribute (GCH) had been friends since 1950 when they both started Commerce Degrees at the University of Melbourne. They were together in the Honours Years (Final Division) of 1952 and 1953, they overlapped at Cambridge where both did Ph.Ds (GCH, at King’s, 1955–58, Allan, at Christ’s, 1956–60) and they wer...
Chapter
Unless the global financial system is radically reformed — and the necessary reforms are looking increasingly unlikely to occur — it will continue to be conducive to financial crises. Government rhetoric and actions can often influence in desirable ways both the speculative actions that now determine the exchange rate and the effect of exchange rat...
Chapter
In the run up to the 2013–14 Federal Budget in Australia, discussion in the public domain was intense, polemical and sometimes hysterical. Most commentators, either explicitly or implicitly, argued that the principal criteria by which the Budget proposals should be judged are, first, how do they contribute to returning the budget to balance or, pre...
Chapter
In this paper I analyse how I became an economist and at the same time a democratic socialist and a Christian. I also explain how I became politically involved after my graduate studies at Cambridge in the late 1950s and started lecturing at Adelaide. When back in Cambridge in the 1960s, teaching this time, the war in Vietnam persuaded me to suppor...
Chapter
It is a great privilege to be included in this Special Issue of the Cambridge Journal of Economics, which celebrates 50 years on from the publication of Piero Sraffa’s classic, Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities (1960, Cambridge University Press). I am delighted that, building on such a solid base, the contributors look forward to th...
Chapter
Over 50 years ago Wilfred Salter published Productivity and Technical Change (1960 [1966]), a book which quickly became a classic. I have never met anybody who has read it who has not said it is one of the most influential, impressive and enjoyable books in economics that they have ever read.1 The book itself grew out of Salter’s Ph.D. dissertation...
Article
Joseph Halevi, G. C. Harcourt, Peter Kriesler and J. W. Nevile bring together a collection of their most influential papers on post-Keynesian thought. Their work stresses the importance of the underlying institutional framework, of the economy as a historical process and, therefore, of path determinacy. In addition, their essays suggest the ultimat...
Book
Joseph Halevi, G. C. Harcourt, Peter Kriesler and J. W. Nevile bring together a collection of their most influential papers on post-Keynesian thought. Their work stresses the importance of the underlying institutional framework, of the economy as a historical process and, therefore, of path determinacy. In addition, their essays suggest the ultimat...
Chapter
In preparing this chapter I have been greatly helped by hearing and then reading Bob Rowthorn’s speech to the King’s Economists on 17 April; Paul Omerod’s dissection of modern macroeconomics in the February 2010 issue of 21st Society, the Journal of the Academy of the Social Sciences; Heinz Kurz’s paper, “On the dismal state of a dismal what?”, on...
Chapter
Heinz Kurz has made major contributions to our understanding of long-period production—interdependent models inspired by Piero Sraffa’s classic writings (see, for example, Kurz and Salvadori, 1995). In doing so he has, on the whole, sided with the view of Pierangelo Garegnani, John Eatwell and Murray Milgate (see, for example, Eatwell, 1997) that,...
Chapter
Luigi Pasinetti and I were PhD students together in Cambridge in the 1950s. We met informally to discuss Joan Robinson’s magnum opus, The Accumulation of Capital (1956), which she called ‘my big book’. Luigi was way ahead of me in his understanding of the intricacies of her analysis of, for example, Wicksell effects, the Ruth Cohen curiosum, and so...
Chapter
I am delighted and honoured to contribute an essay to the Special Issue of the Global and Local Economic Review in honour of Anwar Shaikh’s contributions, and especially to honour 40 years on, the publication of his wonderful HUMBUG article, “Laws of production and laws of algebra: the Humbug production function” in the February 1974 issue of The R...
Chapter
We all look for patterns to make sense out of life. Economists are no different in this respect from anyone else. It is the location of that search rather than the process itself that distinguishes them from other sifters of data. The danger is that the need to order that environment may lead to creating and preserving tools well past their usefuln...
Chapter
I am not surprised but I am delighted that Ronald Meek’s review article, Meek (1961), of Piero Sraffa’s 1960 classic received the greatest number of hits in the decade 1954–63 in the Scottish Journal of Political Economy. The reviews of Sraffa’s book ranged from the incomprehensible through the banal (one was even vitiated by a misinterpretation of...
Chapter
This paper summarises the key elements of G. C. Harcourt’s (2006) book of the same title. Special emphasis is given to the contribution of the Cambridge pioneers, such as John Maynard Keynes, Richard Kahn, Joan Robinson, Nicholas Kaldor, Michał Kalecki, Richard Goodwin, Piero Sraffa, Luigi Pasinetti, and Dennis Robertson. The objective of their app...
Article
The current mainstream neoclassical economic analysis of growth in a “Western” economy holds that in anything but the relatively short run, defined as the length of a business cycle, the economy reaches an equilibrium growth rate determined entirely by supply side factors and unaffected by measures taken to increase aggregate demand during a slump....
Article
This comment discusses Taylor’s critique of Piketty’s model and his extension to bring in insights from Keynes and Pasinetti. In addition, the comment contains criticisms of the meanings of Piketty’s statistical findings, which are based on accounting measures, of Piketty’s failure to understand the significance of the Cambridge Capital Theory Cont...
Chapter
Joan Robinson was born into an upper middle class English family with a tradition of dissent. She was educated at St. Paul's Girls' School and Girton College Cambridge where she read economics in the 1920s. After 2 years in India she made her home in Cambridge as a member of the Faculty of Economics and Politics from 1934 on. She made major contrib...
Article
Placed at each end of the long spectrum of responses to Thomas Piketty’s best seller (in its admirable 2014 English translation by Arthur Goldhammer) are those of Paul Krugman and Deirdre McCloskey. (I omit the responses of Tea Party right-wing nutters. The book was published in French in 2013 and evidently did not make much of an impact; it is the...
Article
The author provides an introductory commentary on six divergent responses to the 2013 Marglin Manifesto', proposing basic principles that might guide the quest to combine ecological sustainability with equitably redistributive development.
Article
I count it a great privilege to contribute an essay to the volume for John Henry. I have known him since he was a doctoral student at McGill in the 1970s. John was supervised by my old and dear friend, the late Athanasios (Tom) Asimakopulos. (Tom and I were Ph.D students at King’s, Cambridge in the 1950s.) I read John’s dissertation on J.B. Clark a...
Article
David Ricardo’s key place in the history of economic thought is well established. However, both the understanding of his Principles of Political Economy and Taxation and its role in the development of economic analysis is much more controversial. Cambridge economists have contributed significantly to both of these issues. They have played an import...
Article
The Cambridge, England, critique of the marginal productivity theory of distribution is hard to disentangle from the related theories and developments that occurred alongside it. These include value theory, price theory, capital theory, growth theory and methodology. Indeed, in the event, I found it impossible to disentangle them and I argue in the...
Article
The General Theory showed that the main determinant of the level of output and of employment at any point of time was the level of effective demand. It did so in an environment of uncertainty using analysis in historical time. Unfortunately, most of Keynes’s insights were soon lost to the profession. This paper considers why this occurred. The most...
Article
Full-text available
In this article, we consider the mainsprings of John Nevile’s many contributions to economics. John has repeatedly argued that because ‘economic actions, institutions and policies affect people’, they have an ethical dimension (Hawtrey and Nevile, 1986: 1), and he has stressed the importance of understanding the value judgements on which economics...
Article
Unless the global financial system is radically reformed – and the necessary reforms are looking increasingly unlikely to occur – it will continue to be conducive to financial crises. Government rhetoric and actions can often influence in desirable ways both the speculative actions that now determine the exchange rate and the effect of exchange rat...
Article
The paper considers Keynes’s major contributions before "The General Theory", namely "A Tract on Monetary Reform" and "A Treatise on Money", and shows that they were close to the views which Friedman would later develop. However, "The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money" represented a major challenge to the orthodoxy of the time, and i...
Article
There is a myth underlying neoclassical economic analysis of a 'Western' economy, which is that in anything but the relatively short run, defined as the length of a business cycle, the economy reaches an equilibrium position determined entirely by supply side factors and unaffected by measures taken to increase aggregate demand during a slump. This...
Article
I am delighted and honoured to contribute an essay to the Special Issue of the Global and Local Economic Review in honour of Anwar Shaikh’s contributions, and especially to honour 40 years on from the publication of his wonderful HUMBUG article, “Laws of production and laws of algebra: the Humbug production function” in the February 1974 issue of T...
Article
Included in this volume are papers which are recognized as some of the foundations of post-Keynesian Economics, analysing problems set in historical time and starting from ‘real world’ observations. The book reflects Geoff Harcourt's contribution to economic debate over more than three decades. It also includes intellectual biographies of some of t...
Article
I start with a moral axiom: the necessary (but not sufficient) condition for a just and equitable society is that its citizens and its government are committed to establishing and maintaining full employment of its citizens. That is to say, anyone who is willing to work under existing conditions – wage rates, conditions of work, and so on – should...
Article
Both Rosa Luxemburg and Michal Kalecki utilised Marx’s scheme’s or reproduction as the starting point of their analysis of economic dynamics. However, Luxemburg did not realise that they were not meant to serve as models of capitalist growth, but rather to show that the conditions for stable growth were unachievable. Luxemburg was an early proponen...
Article
On Skidelsky's Keynes and Other Essays is a collection of essays, biographies, review articles and tributes, focusing on the lives and times of the Cambridge School of Economists, and the immense contribution that these thinkers, including the author, made to the discipline.
Article
In this Introduction, we discuss the main themes of post-Keynesian economics, and the manner in which they are dealt with by the contributors to the Handbook. In particular, the important aspects of post-Keynesian analysis are identified, and their main critiques of mainstream theory are discussed. According to Joan Robinson “post-Keynesian has a d...
Article
A major concern for Richard Goodwin all of his professional life was to understand the laws of motion of the capitalist mode of production. This led very early on to his profound insight that the trend and cycle are indissolubly fused and ultimately to his most important theoretical construct, the growth cycle. This article sets out the historical...
Chapter
Introduction Luigi Pasinetti and I were PhD students together in Cambridge in the 1950s. We met informally to discuss Joan Robinson's magnum opus, The Accumulation of Capital (1956), which she called ‘my big book’. Luigi was way ahead of me in his understanding of the intricacies of her analysis of, for example, Wicksell effects, the Ruth Cohen cur...
Chapter
The Economics Tripos at Cambridge celebrated its centenary in 2003 with a number of brief lectures and, as is usual at Oxbridge, with food and drink.† My brief (in two senses) was to discuss some academic highlights of those first 100 years. What follows is a shorter version of my lecture. As background, may I point out that over this period, Cambr...
Chapter
With the publication of the third volume of his life of John Maynard Keynes, Robert Skidelsky has brought to fruition probably the greatest biography of the twentieth century, certainly the greatest biography of an economist. We agree with Bradford De Long’s judgment: ‘as a whole, [it] is the finest biography of an economist that I have ever read,...
Chapter
When I returned to Cambridge at the end of August 1997 after two terms of leave in my native Australia, I was delighted to find waiting for me a letter from Professor Szenberg asking me to contribute to his ongoing series on the life philosophies of economists. In recent years I have written a number of essays which circle around this theme. His re...
Chapter
Tom and I knew one another for 35 years.† Our close friendship dates from the late 1960s, after Tom had made a major shift in his approach to economics. This followed his year at MIT in 1965–66 where, listening to Bob Solow’s lectures, the significance of Joan Robinson’s critique of neoclassical theory and method fell into place (see Harcourt, 1991...
Chapter
I start with two propositions: first, that Maynard Keynes and Karl Marx, were they still with us, would have made far more sense of the happenings of modern capitalism of the past 30 to 40 years than do the more modern approaches to macroeconomics of the same period; and, second, that Keynes would have sat down and tried again to save capitalism fr...
Chapter
We start with Maynard Keynes’s central ideas.† We then discuss the strands that emerged in the work of others, some contemporaries, some followers, some agreeing and extending, others disagreeing and/ or returning to ideas Keynes sloughed off or played down. The General Theory is the natural starting point. We trace developments from and reactions...
Chapter
David Champernowne died in Devon on 19 August 2000 at the age of88.† Though he was not directly associated with the Cambridge Journal of Economics, his major contributions both belong to and serve to extend the approach to economics which the journal is dedicated to preserve and advance. We wish therefore to record our appreciation of his life and...
Chapter
I count it a great privilege to contribute the opening essay to this issue of The Economic and Labour Relations Review, which is celebrating its first 20 years. Over that time, the journal has been an outlet for independent and outspoken, often unfashionable views, upholding traditions steeped in the thoughts of Michal Kalecki and Maynard Keynes, a...
Chapter
Brian Reddaway was born on 8 January 1913 in Cambridge into a Cambridge ‘gown’ family. His father, William Fiddian Reddaway, was an historian (of Eastern Europe), a fellow of King’s College and the first Censor of Fitzwilliam House. His mother was Kate Waterland Sills. Except for two years in Australia at the University of Melbourne (1936–38), Camb...

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