Fusing Indissolubly the Cycle and the Trend: Richard Goodwin’s Profound Insight

23 Pages Posted: 30 Apr 2012 Last revised: 30 Aug 2012

See all articles by G.C. Harcourt

G.C. Harcourt

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Economics

Date Written: March 1, 2012


I start with a personal note. I had the good fortune to be, first, a student of Dick Goodwin’s in the 1950s (in that as a Ph.D student at King’s, I went to his lectures on Central planning in India, see Goodwin (1982), Ch. 11, Goodwin (1983), Ch. 6), and then his colleague in the 1960s when I first lectured at Cambridge. He and I were Part I examiners in 1965. Richard Kahn was Chairman of examiners and Dick and I had not done all of the very detailed tasks that Richard as a meticulous but demanding chair required of us. Richard was (in)famous for his fierce temper and most people were scared stiff of it; but not Dick. When Kahn telephoned about our misdemeanours, luckily Dick answered the phone and stood by, smiling, occasionally putting in a short response, while Richard screamed down the phone. After a quarter of an hour even Kahn was exhausted so I received barely a scolding when Dick put me on the phone.

I was one of the readers for Cambridge University Press for Dick’s book of his lectures to Prelims, Elementary Economics from the Higher Standpoint (1970). It contained a fundamental set of principles and Dick’s wonderful diagrams. There were many typos but none, Vela assures me, were “remotely crucial”. I had wondered whether students could have been put off by them because they did not think their teachers could make mistakes, yet they could not understand the arguments. So there must be other reasons why it tended to remain a closed book to students and the profession alike, perhaps because of the closed minds of some teachers?

When I came back to Cambridge in 1982, Dick would often call in to the Faculty in the 1980s and 1990s for a chat, see Goodwin (1997a), and I had the great pleasure of writing an oral history of him for the series of founding fathers and mothers of post-Keynesianism in the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, see Harcourt (1985; Sardoni (ed.) (1992)). Dick’s magnum opus, co-authored with Lionello Punzo, The Dynamics of a Capitalist Economy (1987), is the jewel in the crown of my series, Aspects of Political Economy, with Polity Press. Dick also contributed a profound two page chapter on “Keynes and Dynamics”, Goodwin (1997b), to A “Second Edition” of The General Theory, vol. 1, Harcourt and Riach (eds) (1997). As with Michal Kalecki, not a word is wasted; the two pages abound with deep insights and incisive sketches of the dynamic processes that underlie the laws of motion of the capitalist mode of production.

It was an extraordinary privilege and pleasure to have known and worked with him. So it was with great pleasure that I said ‘Yes’ to Vela’s request that I contribute to this special issue of the Cambridge Journal of Economics to honour Dick by celebrating the Centenary of his birth in 1913.

Keywords: Richard Goodwin

Suggested Citation

Harcourt, G.C., Fusing Indissolubly the Cycle and the Trend: Richard Goodwin’s Profound Insight (March 1, 2012). UNSW Australian School of Business Research Paper No. 2012-30, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2045257 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2045257

G.C. Harcourt (Contact Author)

UNSW Australia Business School, School of Economics ( email )

High Street
Sydney, NSW 2052

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