Friday, July 6, 2018

Wynne Godley: The Other Economist Who Foresaw the Future of Europe

Following up on yesterday's bit on Nicholas Kaldor: "Europe: "Foreseeing the future is difficult. But sometimes it seems as though some people get it terribly right"".

As I said in the intro to 2010's "London Times Obituary: 'Professor Wynne Godley: economist"'
One of the heavyweights.
Or, as the Times put it in their first sentence:
As Professor of Applied Economics at Cambridge, a civil servant in the Treasury and later as one of the Treasury’s panel of “six wise men”, Wynne Godley was the most insightful macroeconomic forecaster of his generation. He made major, though as yet not fully recognised, contributions to macroeconomic theory....
One more bit of self-referential (reverential?) linkage. In 2012's post on what I called Izabella Kaminska's "The Theory of Everything" I mentioned en passant the guy who convinced Godley to hang his hat at Cambridge:
...In our next installment we'll look at “Kaldor’s stylized facts”(Cambridge economist Nicholas, Baron Kaldor) to judge whether the facts were just opinions or still hold true, how they influence the #Occupy folks and why I couldn't take #Occupy as seriously as many did and ended up with posts such as "Octopi Wall Street" and "Ossify Wall Street: Russell Simmons/Kanye West; Richard Trumka, Tim Robbins Swing By" along with the trilogy...
Kaldor's Stylized Facts are at the heart of the question of whether the current economy can provide employment for millions of people who are on the verge of being made irrelevant in economic terms.

First up, October 2012's "The Genius of Wynne Godley: "Maastricht and All That"":
You could probably tease out my feelings about Professor Godley from the headline of last month's "Professor Wynne Godley: The Man Who Foresaw the Euromess Twenty Years Ago".
Here's more.
We're coming up on the 20th anniversary of a piece he wrote for the London Review of Books, 8Oct1992:

Maastricht and All That
A lot of people throughout Europe have suddenly realised that they know hardly anything about the Maastricht Treaty while rightly sensing that it could make a huge difference to their lives. Their legitimate anxiety has provoked Jacques Delors to make a statement to the effect that the views of ordinary people should in future be more sensitively consulted. He might have thought of that before.
Although I support the move towards political integration in Europe, I think that the Maastricht proposals as they stand are seriously defective, and also that public discussion of them has been curiously impoverished. With a Danish rejection, a near-miss in France, and the very existence of the ERM in question after the depredations by currency markets, it is a good moment to take stock.

The central idea of the Maastricht Treaty is that the EC countries should move towards an economic and monetary union, with a single currency managed by an independent central bank. But how is the rest of economic policy to be run? As the treaty proposes no new institutions other than a European bank, its sponsors must suppose that nothing more is needed. But this could only be correct if modern economies were self-adjusting systems that didn’t need any management at all..

I am driven to the conclusion that such a view – that economies are self-righting organisms which never under any circumstances need management at all – did indeed determine the way in which the Maastricht Treaty was framed. It is a crude and extreme version of the view which for some time now has constituted Europe’s conventional wisdom (though not that of the US or Japan) that governments are unable, and therefore should not try, to achieve any of the traditional goals of economic policy, such as growth and full employment. All that can legitimately be done, according to this view, is to control the money supply and balance the budget. It took a group largely composed of bankers (the Delors Committee) to reach the conclusion that an independent central bank was the only supra-national institution necessary to run an integrated, supra-national Europe....MORE
If interested see the above ref'd "Professor Wynne Godley: The Man Who Foresaw the Euromess Twenty Years Ago" for even more good Godley.