Testimonials and Greetings A – L
Click on a name to see the testimonial or birthday greeting.
Professor of Economics, University of Brasilia
Geoff Harcourt at 90! This certainly calls for celebrations. I had the privilege to be Geoff’s PhD student at Cambridge in the early 1990s. My thesis was about aspects of the monetary macroeconomics of Knut Wicksell, the only marginalist economist who featured prominently in Geoff’s classic Some Cambridge Controversies. Throughout the years of supervision, I learned from Geoff how the careful study of the history of economic thought shed significant light on the interpretation and understanding of economics in general. I recall our meetings at his office in the Department of Economics, as I tried to see him behind piles of books and papers standing on his desk. I’m grateful for his willingness to share his knowledge in his unique, generous and cheerful way, from which I benefited then and continued to benefit long after – until very recently, I used to send him my papers, which he returned with careful comments and suggestions. Happy birthday, Geoff!
Professor of Economics, University of Graz
I consider it to be fake news that you will turn 90 on 27 June. I know you as a vigorous, thriving, thoughtful, sparkling, supportive, highly productive, orginal, hard working colleague whom I admire since a long time and keep admiring whatever the fake news might be.
I hope you are reasonably well and will be much better soon, and Joan, your dear wife and wonderful companion, is well and in good spirit. I remember when you and Joan visited us in Bremen in the late 1980s. Gabi and I picked you up at the airport, but when trying to leave it turned out that the battery of our Volkswagen minibus was exhausted. I had to ask you and Gabi to push the car until I managed to start the engine. This you did without grumbling. So next to all your numerous talents and skills you are also a formidable car pusher! Very impressive! Thanks a lot.
Gabi and I wish you and Joan and the entire Harcourt family all the best. We hope to see each other again before long and benefit from your infinite humour and excellent company. Against all rumours to the contrary, Australian humour is a laughing matter.
Ad multos annos!
Author and Teacher from the Murrawarri Nation (excerpt)
I felt the true sense of a strong friendship of an unforgettable person. The face-to-face vision of him standing before me was almost too much for me, his sincerity was an experience I shall not forget anytime soon, and from that time onwards I feel the bond of human love and kindness. He is so special and unique. He is someone who has crossed the world over many times and yet remained relaxed and at ease. A god`s given gift of a ‘simple and a real man’, one of nature`s best. Our connectiveness came about through knowing his beautiful daughter Rebecca (Bec) and his dear and loved wife Joan. How honoured and privileged are my husband Alan and I to have had you present at our book launch for ‘Olga`s Story’ Bourke NSW 2016. Our heartiest congratulations have a super birthday celebration with family and friends. Our love and warm birthday greetings from Alan and me.
Professor of Politics University of Adelaide,
Federal Labor Member for Adelaide 1990-1993
In 1969/70 Geoff and I were on the executive of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign which used to meet second floor, in a terraced federation style house on North Terrace, Adelaide. On Saturday, I think, in session, someone – a reactionary no doubt – lit a fire in the ground floor and we had to evacuate tout suite thro it. (It was modest but real). On the pavement was a fire alarm, break glass and press button type. Geoff produced an umbrella with which he promptly pierced the glass, fencing style, and summoned assistance.
In August 1975 Geoff and I were required to deliver the Peoples Budget, drafted by me mostly, to the Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Jim Cairns, to his office in (Old) Parliament House, Canberra. This was to help stave off the dreadful economic rationalism as promoted by Bill Hayden in the then economic crisis. We were ushered in by Junie Morosie and spent a couple of hours explaining how we proposed to save the government, when Jim was summoned by the Prime Minister. He left, and returned quite shortly with the announcement: “The bastard sacked me”.
In 1970 Geoff Captain-coached the Uni Blacks A4 reserves: “Harcourt’s Heroes”. Mistakenly, he recruited a Welsh rugby fan who had no idea of Aussie Rules. I delivered two consecutive worst on ground performances, but happily got injured (when kicking my only possession). But recovered to spectate and barrack at the Grand Final when the Heroes took out the A4 Premiership
Attorney General in the Dunstan Labor Government South Australia
Minister in SA and Federal Labor Governments
Well who could believe it, Geoff Harcourt is 90. Geoff you were in my life always the ageless presence. The permanent fixture. Whether it was at Adelaide University, Footy, Cricket, political issues or ALP activity in my life you seemed a constant.
You might have forgotten but we first met through Maureen Brunt my tutor in leaving economics in 1965. You were the first professor I had ever met and I was super impressed by what in 5 minutes I perceived as a casual yet dynamic personality. We next met door knocking in support of the 1966 campaign to elect Dr Keith Le Page as Labor member for Sturt. Sadly an unsuccessful exercise and a result which shattered us both for a time.
You were legendary as a footballer and cricketer apparently with no capacity for retirement. Even at the twilight of your career in team sports you were a determined runner in the Adelaide City Bay run. There are others who knew you better in family, academic and more recent times who can talk to your achievements in those matters
What I remember of earlier times is your lynch pin role in the Campaign for Peace in Vietnam which is well known. Your role in the struggle for democracy in SA is possibly less well know. You were a leader of the small group of academics who supported Don Dunstan in that great and successful struggle. When I was promoting the first Homosexual law reform in Australia you were part of the council for civil liberties which promoted and supported the eventually successful reform. Throughout your life you joined the struggle, you made a difference Well done old mate and congrats on a hugely successful long life and happy birthday.
Professor of Economics at UNSW Business School
Academic co-lead of the UNSW Grand Challenge on Inequality
I first met Geoff in person when I came back from the US to UNSW. He bowled straight up to me and said “are you a new lecturer? I’m Geoff.” Since then he has been a constant supporter, friend, and an example of the scholar and colleague I aspire to be. Happy birthday, Geoff!
Professor of Economics, UNSW
I’ve been reflecting on the many times you’ve made me laugh. And the many times you’ve shocked me! Sometimes these have gone together, such as the time you asked me, in the corridor at work, if I could lend you an item of intimate sporting apparel.
Your entertaining banter and great stories from both distant and current times have brought joy to my working life. In a profession which is increasingly competitive and often insufferably serious, you provide levity and perspective, placing an emphasis on communication, collegiality and acceptance of different views. You have always been interested in and supportive of junior members of the profession. I admire your impeccable professional and ethical standards.
This is a long way of saying that I am in awe of what you have achieved in your career, but even more so by the way in which you have achieved this.
Happy 90th Geoff. A stylish 90 not out is a great innings!
Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Stony Brook University
Please wish your Dad the very best from me. It was a great honor to see him and to hold the Harcourt Visiting Lectureship Professorship last year. Not just—easily—the highlight of 2020 but a most distinguished honor of my career. He is truly one of the great ones!
Professor P.N. (Raja) Junankar
Industrial Relations Research Group
I first met Geoff at one of the AUTE Conferences in the UK while I was a Lecturer in Economics at the University of Essex. I was a young lecturer and had not yet met this giant in Economics. I was impressed with his friendliness and willing to discuss with a young (relatively) unknown lecturer. That is Geoff: he is always willing to help and encourage young, junior academics and students. As always, he will regale you with stories about well known academics who he knows personally. For a young lecturer like me it was enlightening that he had time to spend with me. Many years later I met him at another conference, and he immediately recognised me (and even remembered my name!): again, that is Geoff. Although he is a world-famous economist, he is willing to mix with junior academics!
One year when he was visiting Australia from Cambridge, I invited him to present a paper to my then University of Westerns Sydney, which he accepted immediately. Many people of his academic stature tend to choose higher ranking universities to present their work! He was a hit at UWS when he presented his paper: he mixed easily with all my former colleagues and discussed their research and offered to read their papers.
Only after he left Cambridge to join the University of New South Wales did I get to know Geoff better. At that time I had retired from UWS and was an Honorary Professor at UNSW and I had the good fortune to be a colleague of his in the School of Economics. On Fridays, UNSW Economics always had a “morning tea” where doctoral students, visiting academics, and the Staff met. It was a friendly affair and there would always be a huddle of doctoral students around Geoff.
Since then, Geoff and his colleagues have been meeting for lunch at UNSW. As always, there are some regulars who think highly of him, including the famous Trevor Swan’s son Peter Swan. These lunch discussions range over a wide range of topics, Keynesian economics, international power politics, and of course, domestic politics where most of us agree with Geoff that the right-wing Coalition Government is a pain.
On a more personal note, Geoff has been an important mentor for me. He has always read and commented on my draft papers with perceptive (but almost illegible handwritten) remarks. A few years ago, he encouraged me to get my published papers into volumes of selected works. He very kindly approached his publishers, Palgrave Macmillan, to publish my books. With such a recommendation, Palgrave Macmillan agreed to publish three volumes of my papers.
Over the past few years my wife, Susie, and I have been meeting Geoff and Joan for dinners, lunches, and afternoon teas. A few years ago, we were privileged to be invited to their celebration of their 60th wedding anniversary. They are wonderful company and it is a privilege to be with them.
Geoff has not only been a wonderful academic colleague, but also an important mentor for me. But most of all he has been a generous friend.
Something about Geoff stands out: his wonderful sense of humour!
I wish him a wonderful celebration of his 90th Birthday and these difficult Covid times.
I raise a glass of Champagne in his honour!
Professor of Economics, Glendon College, York University
Geoff, what a compassionate great man! Openhearted, a man with unbounded generosity with his time, his help, his encouragement, and support for whomever is on his path. At any meeting, conference, seminar, tearoom chat or simply a gathering of friends and family Geoff was a delightful presence.
I do not recall when I met Geoff for the first time; it must have been in Montreal, in the late seventies, at a conference where Joan Robinson was Guest of Honor. Tom Asimakopulos, who supervised me as a graduate student at McGill, was himself student of Joan’s, who visited Tom frequently. Tom organized regular seminars with distinguished scholars passing through Montreal or visiting the Economics Department. After each of the regular meetings, a small group of Tom’s graduate students were invited to a dinner at his house, hosted by him and Merika, where there was much opportunity for informal discussions with the guests. The most prestigious guest was Joan Robinson, but, thanks to Tom, I had the fortune to meet, in such a convivial setting, Geoff, Minsky, Marglin, and Victoria Chick, to name just a few.
After graduating, I had another stroke of luck: Tom invited me to attend the first Trieste Summer School, which gathered an impressive number of scholars with diverse intellectual and ideological leanings (e.g., Keynesians, Ricardians, Robinsonians, Kaleckians). It was the first get-together of its kind and held the potential hope for a consensus to emerge among dissenters to counter the grip of economic orthodoxy. Instead the disagreements about fundamental ideas emanating from the legacy of, especially, Keynes and Sraffa turned into clashes of viewpoints and egos. A drift and categorization started to occur between American, Canadian, European (dissolving into British, German, French and Italian) Keynesians, each pulling the blanket to their side. The presence of Geoff, a proud Australian who made this known, had a reconciling impact. He had a gift of turning tense and austere intellectual debates, often bordering on boring, into delightful lively contests. Geoff is to be credited for having done more to keep the post Keynesian movement together and alive than anyone. He helped numerous generations of young scholars with their research, publication or career.
At Trieste, Geoff invited me to come spend some time in Cambridge, which I did. It gave me an invaluable opportunity to experience firsthand the intellectual dynamics at the Faculty of Economics. Under his sponsorship I returned many times to Cambridge. Each time, Geoff invited me to dinner at Jesus College, introduced me to many scholars, and welcomed me into his home. I got to know Joan, Rebecca, and Wendy.
Throughout the eighties I attended many conferences where Geoff was present. I do not think we ever missed an annual gathering of the small informal British Economics Society. Wherever he went, Geoff kept his delightful sense of humor; I still savour many memorable moments.
Having graduated from McGill, the prospects of finding an academic position in Canada were grim, given the grip of orthodoxy on most economics departments. It was Geoff’s recommendation to Lorie Tarshis that landed me a job at Glendon College, York University. Without the support of Tom, I would have given up the study of economics. Without the backing of Geoff and Lorie Tarshis, I would probably not have had an academic career.
Thank you, Geoff, with profound gratitude I wish you a very Happy 90th Birthday and many more returns of the day.
Professor Alastair Fischer
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine
I recall the day that you scored 75 for Graduates at the Waite Oval in the semifinal of our hardwicket cricket competition in about 1973. You played as never before, with a fluency and grace that was rarely seen on that ground. The irony was that someone on the other side was injured, so you volunteered Paul Baily to field in his place. Only Paul from our side was tall enough to have caught your never-before seen drive over extra cover. But he jumped and held the catch on the tips of his fingers. It was the only way you could have been denied 100, and it remains your highest score. Except perhaps for next season?
Congratulations, Geoff, a man for ALL seasons!
In 2010, I was teaching in a comprehensive school in York, England and, when we moved to a brand-new building, my students felt my new classroom needed a special exhibition board. I decided to email several of the world’s greatest economists and ask for a signed photo for a new display. I was delighted to receive one from Geoff, accompanied, of course, with a warm message! I began to correspond with him and talk about economics. It will be absolutely no surprise to anyone when I say that first correspondence was the start of a realisation on my part of the ‘specialness’ of Geoff. From that moment Geoff became a huge source of encouragement to me; this was especially true when I decided to return to academic study after a gap of over thirty years. When I applied for a PhD, Geoff acted as my referee and was both a wise mentor and supportive counsel. I am certain there will be many, many others who have drawn great encouragement from Geoff, both young and old.
I have spent many hours reading Geoff’s work, there are too many titles to list. It was great to hear that Geoff knew my MA dissertation supervisor, John Brothwell, well. John wrote a chapter in Geoff and Peter Riach’s (eds.) A ‘Second Edition’ of the General Theory. It was John who introduced me to Post-Keynesianism in the 1980s. A few years ago it was a great privilege for me to be able to review the Oxford Handbook of Post-Keynesian Economics (which Geoff co-edited with Peter) for the Review of Political Economy. I regard the work as a true tour-de-force. It is a fantastic resource for scholars. I consider Geoff’s body of work as second to none in our era.
In addition to being a leading thinker and author in his field, Geoff has also supported and encouraged as many -if not more- scholars than any other over his long career. The list of those he has supported would take a long time to compile! May of those on it will, I am sure, have sent contributions to this tribute website. When I started writing my thesis, I sent my early drafts to Geoff; he checked every word fastidiously. Geoff was also at the forefront assisting me in my first faltering attempts at writing academic papers, helping me to publish articles in peer-reviewed journals.
I first met Geoff in person at the book launch of volume one of Jan Toporowski’s wonderful biography of Kalecki when Geoff was a keynote speaker. I really enjoyed his speech and the references to the ‘special exhibit’ the panel had with them – Kalecki’s umbrella! Geoff has a well- deserved reputation as an inspirational and engaging speaker. He is also a great wit and storyteller. I discovered this in person when, later, Geoff invited me to lunch. I met Geoff at Jesus College and after he had parked his bike, we headed to ‘Efe’s’. I had a great time, being regaled with some fabulous stories of Piero Sraffa and Nicky Kaldor and my favourite tale of Paul Davidson avoiding contact with Joan Robinson by pushing papers under her door and having them returned the same way.
I was greatly honoured to be invited to Geoff and Joan’s Diamond Wedding celebrations at Jesus College. This was a truly memorable occasion, and it was wonderful to see Geoff and Joan surrounded by those who love and admire them in such beautiful surroundings. I met some fabulous people that day – Geoff introduced me to at least one Nobel Prize winner- and I just had great fun. As an added bonus, the food was delicious!
When Jan wrote the second volume of his biography of Kalecki, I was again fortunate enough to attend. It was another great occasion, and I especially enjoyed the meal afterwards. It was a time full of laughter and good conversation. I got the plum seat – next to Joan!
I have kept in close contact with Geoff since our first meeting. I was absolutely delighted that when I managed to publish my first book, Can Heterodox Economics Make a Difference?: Conversations with Key Thinkers, not only did Geoff provide me with a wonderfully informative and engagingly humorous interview he also contributed a much-valued foreword.
What can I say about Geoff that hasn’t already been said? All I can say is that Geoff has been a great support, a wise mentor, and a loyal and much valued friend for many years. Geoff is an inspiration to me and, I am sure, to many, many others. Professor G. C. Harcourt – simply the best.
Sheila and Alistair Dow
The University of Stirling
We send our warmest congratulations to Geoff on his 90th birthday and our appreciation for all he has done for economics and for us in terms of friendship and encouragement.
Best wishes, Sheila and Alistair
Professor Brendan Burchell
Department of Sociology University of Cambridge.
Geoff, you have played a significant part in my life since I came to Cambridge 36 years ago. Our lives have interwoven at so many levels, and I have a lot to thank you for. You were on the interview panel that appointed me to a permanent lectureship at Cambridge, and then 25 years later landed my daughter, Joey, a gap-year job at the University of NSW.
But let me limit myself to two reasons that I feel enormous gratitude to you. First, for the way you radiate your values through great warmth and kindness to anyone who comes into your proximity. A close second is the way you make people laugh. I still chuckle when I recall seeing you fall off your chair in a meeting with hypodermic needle in hand and trousers round your ankles, sitting on the floor looking so pleased with yourself that you hadn’t lost your composure!
La Trobe University
I send you my very best wishes on such a landmark birthday. I hope you enjoy the day with your family and revel in your lifelong achievements, which have been so significant for many of us.
I had the great pleasure of meeting you at one of the SHE conferences and valued how encouraging and generous you were with all young economists.
Congratulations also on the 50th-anniversary edition of Some Cambridge Controversies in the Theory of Capital! That work provided some much-needed conceptual clarification on a complex topic, such as the theory of capital, and has been a beacon of hope in a discipline that has turned ever more elitist and barren since the 1950s.
Economist, Washington DC (excerpt)
It’s now almost 10 years since I met you in Tokyo. Although I felt quite miserable for most of that short trip, I will always consider it one of the highlights of my life because I had the great good fortune to meet you both.
I am so grateful to you, Geoff, for encouraging me to submit the book proposal to Palgrave Macmillan. I look forward to being able to share the finished product when it becomes available.
I hope that you both will stay safe and well as winter arrives in the southern hemisphere. May we all continue to celebrate happy occasions and may the world become a better and happier place for our children and grandchildren to live and thrive.
Economist, New Institute for Economic Thinking
Many congratulations on your 90th birthday and a brilliant career. It has been a privilege to know you and a special honour to have been your final PhD student at Cambridge all those years ago. Onwards and upwards!
Robert Jacob Alexander, Baron Skidelsky, FBA
Please pass on to Geoff my congratulations on his 90th birthday. I shall never forget how he made me welcome in Cambridge when I started to work on my biography of Keynes, introducing me to everyone at the Faculty Club at a time when, without his goodwill, I think I would have been comprehensively cold-shouldered. And the marvellous long review he wrote of my ‘trilogy’, and many other memories of a wonderful human being.
Dr. Roni Demirbag
Geoff is one of the truly great Australian economists. He made lasting and important contributions to our understanding of the economy and economic theory. His generosity, supportive and kind personality is well recognised by all those who have had the privilege to meet and get to know him. Friends and colleagues of Geoff will no doubt highlight many of his wonderful qualities both as a person and as a heterodox economists. For me, one of Geoff’s most striking qualities is the fact that he personifies his own methodological approach to economics. Many heterodox economists pay lip service to pluralism and methodological diversity and tolerance but practice the diametrically opposite position of intolerance. Geoff, on the other hand, is the only economist who genuinely practices what he preaches. I have personally witnessed how Geoff takes ethics and methodological tolerance very seriously and lives by it. I have learnt so much from Geoff over the years and genuinely value his friendship.
Geoff, wishing you all the best on your 90th birthday.
The Hon. (Pru) Prudence Jane Goward
Ex- minister of NSW Parliament?
Dearest Geoff, you were the first economist I ever loved and almost the last. Thank you for making economics so exciting and for your extraordinary capacity to make anyone you touched feel special. I wish we could all be there to discuss capital switching and re-switching, but alas, your other Joan cannot be there to move the salt and pepper shakers around the table. Much love
Fellow in Economics, Trinity Hall
Its 50 years since we first met in Cambridge. I was then an eager beaver undergraduate and you were lecturing on capital theory. I fondly remember your packed lectures and our squash games. Years later we met again at Bill Russell’s wedding in Scotland and Joan and you came and stayed with us in Dundee. Much convivial conversation and food and drink over a long weekend. The last time we met was over lunch at USNW when I was visiting Sydney again.
Thanks for so much learning and goodwill and friendship over so many years. and more to come.
Go well sport!
Goldsmiths, University of London
I met Geoff for the first time in summer 2006 in Cambridge while doing research at the university library on my doctoral dissertation on the Cambridge capital controversies. I of course knew Geoff’s works, which I was studying and reviewing at that time for my own work, and so meeting him in person would be a real opportunity to have an oral account not only of the historical facts of the years during which the debates have been taking place but also of the man who actually allowed these debates become publicly known to the wide discipline in the late 1960s. He arranged to meet with me in Jesus college for lunch and tea, and then on another date for another tea. Not only did I enjoy his professional and personal accounts of the economic debates of the 1960-70s but also of the many intricacies, personal polemics and other stories around them. Furthermore, Geoff kindly allowed me have a look at his personal archives and copy them, which helped me have a more direct contact with the controversies. Despite we are not always in agreement on some of the later developments of the controversies he has always been encouraging me to improve and support my main points of argument. I met him again in 2007 and 2010 and we kept email exchanges regularly. He helped me polish manuscripts (although Geoff’s handwriting on the margins was hard to read at times), publish some of them and make professional connections that eventually turned friends in some cases. I will not have enough words to properly thank you Geoff for your human generosity and selfless support and encouragement during all the last fifteen years.
I am sure his work and contributions to economics and the history of economic thought have paved the way for a new way of looking at economic problems within the post-Keynesian tradition embracing at the same time -or allowing space to doing so- other non-mainstream approaches to flourish.
Happy birthday Geoff and happy returns for you and your loved ones.
University of Leeds
Just wanted to send you a message to mark your 90th birthday and to say thank you for your support and friendship over the years. What wonderful memories. We first met at Cambridge in October 1982 when I came up to study the MPhil and you had just returned from Australia to take up a position on the Faculty. I already knew of some of your work on capital theory – your Some Controversies JEL article and subsequent book had already become core reading in my undergraduate studies on the subject. And we had already been introduced via David Pearce, the environmental economist, and professor at the University of Aberdeen. David had met you during a visit to Australia in the summer of 1982 and sent a letter telling me to introduce myself to you when I got to Cambridge. The gist of his letter was that “I’ve told Geoff all about you” and “he’s a great guy”.
I remember well searching you out in the Faculty on my first day, knocking on your door with a little trepidation and you welcoming me as a long-lost friend. What has always shone through is your infectious enthusiasm for people, for economics, for life. I had a wonderful year in Cambridge, and you played a massive part in making it so. Those were exciting times. The importance of Keynes’s Treatise on Probability for his economics was just being recognised thanks to Gay Meeks, Anna Carabelli, Rod O’Donnell and Tony Lawson. You were one of the first to appreciate the importance of this strand of Keynesian research and I well remember you recommending I should go to Rod’s seminar in the Department of Philosophy before he returned to Australia after completing his PhD. There were so many interesting people in Cambridge – my fellow MPhil student, John Coates, for one and of course Peter Kriesler was there doing his PhD. Wonderful memories including your guest appearance as goalkeeper on the first Sunday afternoon graduate football game on the field on Grange Road.
You taught the macroeconomics course on the MPhil with Bob Rowthorn – what a great radical combination. And you supervised my dissertation on Keynes and my first attempts to come to terms with the new understanding of Chapter 12 of the General Theory. Perhaps the most important lesson I learnt from you was to respect those with whom you disagree and appreciate the logic and depth of their arguments; your own arguments will be stronger for it. It has always struck me that, unlike some of our fellow radicals, you have never demonised those with whom you disagreed.
For better or worse, I didn’t take up the opportunity to undertake my doctoral studies in Cambridge but went off to Unilever to develop my practical skills as economist in industry – these days they call it business analytics. I returned to academia to a lectureship in economics at Leeds and have remained based in Yorkshire ever since (I’ll return to my beloved Scotland one day). I was proud that you asked me to contribute to the Second Edition of the General Theory project.
We lost touch in the late 90s as I dropped out of economics – I felt I had nothing more to say on the subject and instead devoted my energies to applying my data analysis skills to professional team sports. I even ended up advising an Aussie Rules team, Hawthorn, and remembering that it was you who had first explained the rudimentaries of the game to me. But when I started to turn my attention back to economics in recent years, it was you who encouraged me to do so. We met again in December 2018 in Sydney, and I spent a wonderful day with you. It was just like being back in Cambridge. Your office had the same style, a working office with papers everywhere. Like every good Cambridge supervision, I left your office inspired and with a long list of suggested readings. It was also really nice to meet your son, Tim, the airport economist. I’m giving my first paper on Keynes for nearly 25 years at the CJE Conference in September and I’m using your description of the Cambridge economic tradition as a launching point and as a tribute to your influence on my thinking.
I’m saddened that your health has deteriorated but to return to the cricketing analogy, you may need a runner now, but your talent and personality transcends. So again Geoff thank you for being you. Have a lovely day with your family. I’ll raise a glass of malt to celebrate a truly wonderful occasion.
Lecturer in Political Economy, University of Sydney
Wishing Geoff and the family all the very best for Geoff’s 90th. What a titan in the field. Always enjoyed a ‘Joanie’ (Robinson) anecdote at SHE each year.
Everybody knows Geoff is one of the greatest Australian economists, who has made a world-wide impact on economic thinking and on the profession. But he is more than that. He is a great Australian, who has made his country a better place. You can’t ask for more from anybody.
Economist, teacher, adviser to governments at the highest level and – not least – footy player of distinction.
Happy birthday Geoff.
Professor of Economics, University of Campinas, Brazil
I wish you a very, very happy 90th birthday! Enjoy this special occasion with your loved ones!
I am very glad and honored to be one of the participants in this celebration. In addition to sending you congratulations and best wishes, I would like to say that I will be forever grateful to you for supervising my PhD, for supporting me and, above all, for being one of kindest people I have met in my academic life!
With great appreciation and affection
15th Australian Statistician, 2014-19
I am one of the many economics students that have had the privilege of learning from Geoff’s teaching and perspectives, from courses in macroeconomics and radical economics at the University of Adelaide in the late 1970s and early 1980s. I had the privilege of having both Geoff Harcourt and Bruce Chapman as my Honour’s Degree supervisors for the research thesis I undertook on measuring Okun’s Law, the relationship between unemployment and foregone output for Australia. Perhaps they had pity on me and thought I needed 2 supervisors!
I remember clearly his insights around macroeconomics, and his attachment to the Cambridge perspectives. He always asked the most insightful questions at the economics seminars. While he was then and is now properly seen as an iconic leader in the economics field, and I suspect he would be embarrassed by this comment, what I most remember from these University times was his humanity and how he encouraged each student to gain the most from their University experience.
Happy birthday Geoff from a very grateful former student!
Empire State College, State University of New York
I wish you a very happy 90th birthday.
Over many decades you have made a massive and important contribution to economics, based on values that we share. It is because of people like you that an economic vision for a better world has survived the neo-liberal era and is now coming to the fore. I also treasure your deep commitment to education, as a ‘teacher’s teacher.’
And I will be forever grateful for your support for the book Full Employment Revisited that I coedited a few years ago with Diamond Ashiagbor. You were, along with John Grieve Smith, one of the first contributors and no doubt inspired others to also write chapters.
I hope you celebrate well and have a lot of fun with your family.
Emeritus Researcher University of Cambridge
Wishing Geoff a Happy Birthday, and our love to Joan and Geoff.
Mark Evers and Tracy Mott on behalf of the University of Denver Economics Department
We were so pleased when you were able to extend your stay in Denver and visit the University of Denver after receiving the Veblen-Commons Award from the Association for Evolutionary Economics at the ASSA meetings in January 2011.
We thought we kept you so busy giving lectures to our students on the important role of the Australian economy in Asia, the similarities and differences between Marx and Keynes and describing Keynes’s ideas on the importance of Money. But your tireless energy extended into numerous individual meetings with our students who were both intrigued and inspired by your discussions with them. Your university-wide lecture on “The Crisis in Mainstream Economics” proved so popular, we had to change rooms to accommodate the overflow crowd.
A highlight of your visit was the screening (with economics faculty and students) of the classic Judy Holliday movie, “The Solid Gold Cadillac”, which you convincingly argued explained the important role of internal finance in the modern-day corporation!
Our sincerest thanks for all you have done for the economics profession in general and for us specifically. Best wishes to you and Joan on this occasion of your 90th birthday!
Peter E. Earl
Honorary Associate Professor of Economics, University of Queensland (excerpt)
Geoff has been a great source of support, encouragement and inspiration throughout my academic career. Indeed, I think it is likely that, without support from Geoff, I might never have had my PhD candidature confirmed in Cambridge.
I was delighted to hear that a 50th anniversary edition of Some Cambridge Controversies in the Theory of Capital is being produced. My copy of the original version (that I purchased on 2 March 1976) was a vital source for me in my Cambridge prelims year and I’ve repeatedly pulled it off the shelves over the years to show to students as a sign of what their orthodox lecturers have not told them (and probably didn’t know themselves) about capital and growth.
Geoff’s sense of humour – evident in the Cambridge Controversies book with gems such as “Excuse me Professor Kaldor, but your slip is showing” – was evident when I set out to escape the gloom of Thatcherism by applying for a lectureship at the University of Tasmania. Geoff served as one of my interviewers, on behalf of the Association of Commonwealth Universities, and the interview was held in his room in Jesus College. I arrived a little late after getting caught out by changes to Cambridge’s traffic system and as I neared his room the familiar voice called out across the quad ‘Hurry up Earl, you’ll miss seeing the prince!’ He must have known that the chance to see Prince Edward, at that time in residence as a student there, was the last thing on my mind, and it was certainly a great sign to relax for the interview.
Thanks so much, Geoff, for the impact you’ve had on me over the past four and a half decades and on economics in general. Best wishes for your 90th birthday.
Professor of Social Sciences and International Relations, University of New South Wales (excerpt)
Among an exotic coterie of economist friends, the predominant topic of conversation is the so-called ‘Cambridge Capital Controversy’. I could only make the dimmest sense of it…I gained more clarity from Geoff’s introduction to that book than I had from a host of words from friends and colleagues, and, even more remarkably, I even began to understand the complexities introduced into the neo-Ricardian theory of capital by actual (rather than ‘commodity’) money…
Geoff is a brilliant economic theorist and a fine writer, who could make the most difficult of ideas readily comprehensible to the less gifted. The point is to make the less obvious and even more important point – that Geoff belonged to a ‘humanistic’ tradition in Economics which is now effectively defunct. This tradition, which has its roots in Keynes rather than Marx, sees Economics as much a Humanities subject as a ‘Social Science’, and requires its practitioners to be as interested in history and philosophy as they are in mathematics and statistics. The effective killing of this tradition in Economics – at least in the West – from the 1980s onwards, at first narrowed and impoverished neo-classical economics itself, and then (in a deeply ironical twist) prepared the ground for its own supplanting by the even more philistine and banal ‘Business Studies’ (whose ponderous recapitulations of the ‘bleedin obvious’ were one of Geoff’s favourite lunchtime targets.)
It … behoves the rest of us to continue fighting for the restoration of that great Keynesian tradition to which Geoff belongs, and of which he has been such a brilliant jewel.
Marquette University and the University of Amsterdam
Geoff Harcourt has been an inspiration and source of support to many including me. Early in my career he showed me how economics could challenge existing views and provide alternative theories and explanations. His leadership was especially important in mapping out a broader and deeper view of well-being and human welfare. I am deeply grateful for his contribution to a progressive economics, and will always value his influence on me.
International Office ACTU
My dad was one of Geoff’s first students at Adelaide in the 60s, and always admired him. I was one of his last students there in the late 70s, but his inspirational, articulate public leadership of the Vietnam Moratorium Campaign in Adelaide had caught my attention a decade earlier when I was a young teenager at high school.
His Economic Theory lectures in third year undergrad at Adelaide turned on the lights for me. Sraffa was a revelation. Rote-learning neo-classical tales against the intellectual grain in my first few years had all but snuffed out my undergraduate interest in and respect for the discipline. And then Geoff reignited it with this concept of the surplus !! Peter Rawlinson and I were fortunate (and have since been ever grateful) that ‘Capital and Growth’ (his Honours course, with Neil Laing) was delivered with just two students enrolled in the class – wouldn’t happen today. Theories of Value and Distribution – here was richness and meaning. I loved it
Geoff was my Honours supervisor in 1979. A few years earlier when I played a few games for the Uni Blacks in the A3 Reserves Geoff was Captain and 10-year-old Tim ran the boundary. How lucky can a bloke be? Years later, Geoff was an invaluable but invisible help to the ACTU during some national wage cases, providing clarity and advice when we had to rebut Commonwealth government submissions on ‘capital productivity’ – whoever would have thunk that re-switching and reverse capital deepening debates would get an airing in Industrial Relations Commission proceedings to adjust national minimum wages?
Thank you Geoff, your wisdom, warmth, passion and guidance certainly shaped my life. You gave me courage and conviction to hold the line during these recent decades of rise and continuing rise to dominance of supply-and-demand theory.
Emeritus Professor and Special Innovation Advisor at the University of Technology Sydney
My Law degree was getting a bit tedious around 1972 so I thought I might try economics as a major in an Arts degree. In those days we needed the approval of the Minister for Education to undertake a dual degree program, and so after considerable effort I managed to secure a personally signed letter from then Minister Malcolm Fraser. (Needless to say my view of Mr Fraser was to change dramatically in 1975, and then back again to something more benign in his later years.) Taking up economics was one of the best decisions I ever made as I was fortunate to attend the macro lectures by Geoff as well as those by his colleague Eric Russell and some of the other star lecturers in what was then regarded as one of the foremost economics departments on the planet, let alone Australia. In his extraordinarily entertaining and instructive ‘Aussie Rules’ style, Geoff instilled not only an interest in economic concepts but a love of learning among his devoted students. Various iconic figures in the history of economic thought would ‘get a guernsey’ or ‘take a high mark’ for such important things as the theory of effective demand or the liquidity trap. Woe betide those ‘tackled to the ground’ for the fallacy of composition. This was the heyday of Keynesian economics, responsible in large part for post war economic recovery, and then halted in its tracks by Reaganism and Thatcherism. And hasn’t the world paid the price in low growth, inequality and wage stagnation. This reversion to pre-Keynesian thinking is what inspired me to apply for a PhD and with Geoff’s support I gained a scholarship at Cambridge to undertake the research, resulting in a book debunking the newly fashionable ‘paradigm shift’ to monetarism. Since then I’ve gone on to do other things but Geoff has been with me in all four quarters, even when he wasn’t aware of it. All of us who know Geoff and were taught by him are eternally grateful to our captain and coach
Professor of Economics, University of Toronto
Best wishes on your 90th birthday. So sorry we can’t spend it with you but we are delighted to share it in spirit. With all the jogging we did together during your visits to Toronto it’s a miracle we can still hobble around but it must have been good for something and it was fun. Paola joins me in sending our best to you and Joan and Tim.
Managing Editor UNSW Business School 2013-2020
My very best wishes for a splendid birthday. Kind, generous and amusing when I needed guidance through the mysteries of economics as an editor at the business school.
Club Record Holder of the Adelaide University Football Club
Geoff – have a great 90th. A significant milestone from Jane, myself and Egils who is lunching with me tomorrow (we will raise a glass of red in your honour). Your contribution to the Blacks has bene immeasurable (and second generation Tim did his bit). Your friendship and my involvement with you on and off the field will always be remembered. Best wishes.
University of Trier
Geoff Harcourt was invited by me to Trier University at the end of 2009.
We celebrated the 90th anniversary of Keynes having met at Trier — a town also known as Trèves the German negotiator with Carl Melchior (of the Warburg Bank as German negotiator and financial expert after WW I) . Keynes described the meeting in his memorial “Dr. Melchior – a defeated enemy.”
Sriya Iyer, Reader in Economics, University of Cambridge and Chander Iyer
We wish you a very happy 90th birthday. Thank you for all your support over many years and we send fond wishes to you, Joan and the family on this happy occasion.
With warm wishes,
Professor Mark Harcourt, Waikato Management School, University of Waikato, New Zealand
Many happy returns on your 90th birthday.
You may remember me. I was a Visiting Professorial Fellow at UNSW for three years, ending in 2018. I went over there once a year from Waikato University here in Hamilton, New Zealand, usually just for 2-3 days at a time. We met only once, in about 2016, and we chatted for about 20 minutes. It wasn’t a long chat, but it was very memorable to me for three reasons and I’d like to share them with you. First, I was thrilled to meet you, as I had followed your career, read a lot of your work over the last 30 years, and it had influenced me greatly. Second, we both share the same last name. You pointed out that your family had assumed the name ‘Harcourt’ to appear more English. Much to your surprise, I pointed out that my family had done exactly the same thing. It was a bizarre coincidence. Third, in just the few minutes we talked, it transpired that you had known both Gordon Fisher and Stephan Kaliski at Cambridge. I think you said that you had shared rooms with them. Both Gordon and Stephan taught be economics at Queens University in Kingston, Canada, when I was a young undergraduate. Both of them used to share stories about each other in my classes, some of which I shared with you, much to our mutual delight. Gordon was well remembered for his pink shirts, bow ties, and absent-minded charm (especially with the women). Stephan was very gruff, began his sentences at low volume, and finished them off with a sudden crescendo, enough to give anyone a cardiac arrest. He also like a tipple. Ha, ha!!!
Anyway, enjoy your 91st year. Don’t work too hard. What you’ve done for the World’s knowledge of economics is already enough. Stay happy and well!
Anne Junor, Editor-in-Chief, The Economic and Labour Relations Review.
Geoff Harcourt and The Economic and Labour Relations Review
My incalculable debt to Geoff dates from my 1969 encounter, as a mature-aged first-year Economics undergraduate, with GC Harcourt et al (1968) Economic Activity, London: Cambridge University Press. This avowedly theoretical post-Keynesian macroeconomic text was my main reason for persevering with a second undergraduate degree, undertaken in an effort to make sense of the crisis that was beginning to emerge with the collapse of the post-war economic order.
Fast-forward to 1990, when Geoff’s dear friend John Nevile co-founded, with the late David Plowman, The Economic and Labour Relations Review, addressing from a post-Keynesian, social justice perspective the crises generated by neoliberal economic and labour market policies. Since moving into the ELRR editorship 15 years ago, I have relied heavily on Geoff. In 2013 Tim Harcourt, Geoff and Peter Kriesler organised an 80th birthday conference and festschrift for John Nevile and ELRR published selections. In 2020-2021 we had planned a similar conference and special issue for Geoff’s 90th birthday, but the website is a wonderful substitute.
Geoff has been a central guide and support to ELRR. Despite his eminence, he has never been prepared simply to sit with international experts on the journal’s Advisory Board. Instead, he has continued to play a pivotal role as an active working member of our Editorial Board, attending every meeting in pre-COVID, pre-Zoom days, and in the past year coming in to the ‘Thursday lunch group’ which some of us have attended as a break from journal work. Geoff has always been willing to provide incisive and supportive adjudication in the case of difficult revision or rejection decisions when reviewer opinions diverged.
Centrally, in a mild, quizzical and unassuming way, Geoff has kept us on message. Thanks to Geoff’s networks, ELRR has been able to continue its support for emerging scholars, even while publishing keynote articles (elicited by Geoff) from thinkers of the stature of Amartya Sen, Robert Skidelsky and Amit Badhuri. Always thinking broadly and ahead of trends, as early as the December 2014 issue (ELRR 25(4)), Geoff organised a themed collection on the dilemma of reconciling decarbonisation with economic development and equitable global wealth redistribution in the face of catastrophic climate change.
At every pre-COVID Board meeting, we relied for many years on Geoff’s prodigious reading for recommendations of books to review. We also rely on Geoff, as Obituary editor, to write and recruit tributes to the many significant scholars whose work is discussed in ELRR as part of our role as an important journal of record. One of many examples is his tribute to Tony Atkinson in the collection he edited with Raja Junankar; another is the collection of tributes Geoff organised for Ajit Singh. Geoff both wrote a tribute to ELRR’s first patron, Joe Isaac, and organised a longer article by Keith Hancock and Russell Lansbury. As well as tributes, Geoff has recruited interesting and unorthodox contributions such as his interview with Jane Gleeson-White on her history of double-entry book-keeping, and an adaptation of Gavin Kitchings’ meditation on Wittgenstein, Thatcher and society. Over the years he has provided ELRR with important research notes, reviews and articles. His article on neoliberalism’s ‘rise and (hopefully) downfall’ opened ELRR’s 20th anniversary issue in 2010. His 2015 review of Piketty’s Capital in ELRR 26(2) was featured on the website of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. His ‘ABC of G&T’ attracted citations, despite its enigmatic title. His 60th birthday tribute to Peter Kriesler was also an appraisal of economic heterodoxy, as was his 2016 homage to Fred Lee. And of course ELRR has published others’ reviews of Geoff’s recent significant output of sole- and co-authored monographs and collections, including work with Joc Pixley on money and crises, the Oxford Handbook of Post-Keynesian Economics (with Peter Kriesler) and the collection Post-Keynesianism Down Under (with Joseph Halevi, Peter Kriesler and John Nevile) . In these ways Geoff has helped fashion the role of ELRR as a lively forum, as well as a historical record, of social justice-oriented scholarship.
It is impossible to overstate the multi-faceted, towering intellect and theoretical and policy importance of this wry, unassuming man.
Professor Steve Keen, Honorary Professor, UCL & ISRS Distinguished Research Fellow
My most abiding memory of Geoff was in the White Horse Hotel in Newtown, Sydney, in I think 1975. The Political Economy Department at Sydney University had invited him to give a talk, and after it, the organisers, both staff and students, decamped to the beer garden of the White Horse Hotel. The staff sat at one table, and the students at another—and Geoff came to sit with us, rather than the staff. He showed then, and throughout his life, that being personable and approachable didn’t conflict with being a great scholar, but complemented it. I noted in my review of his Festschrift that “Many economists who personally cannot abide each other nonetheless number Geoff amongst their mutual friends”, and that has remained true throughout his life.
He also showed that a scholar could be a sportsman and an activist. As someone who faced conscription to fight in Vietnam when I turned 20 in 1973, I knew about Geoff from his activism against the war before I read any of his works on economics itself. Geoff played both cricket and Aussie Rules to a high standard, and I remember him finishing an after dinner speech to the Australian Economics Society annual conference in Adelaide by inviting the audience to join him for an after dinner run. He is the model of a Renaissance man.
Professor Robert A. Blecker, American University, Washington, DC
I want to add my voice to the tributes to Geoff on the occasion of him reaching this milestone.
Geoff’s work had a powerful influence on my thinking as a young scholar in what we now call post-Keynesian or heterodox economics. Once I met him, I could appreciate why he is so revered for his intellect, his wit, and his kindness. I believe that he contributed in both small and large ways to some early advances in my own career. I also came to know his lovely family, to whom he was and remains utterly devoted. I count myself fortunate to have known Geoff throughout the last several decades, and I wish him all the best of health and happiness as he enters his next decade.
Emeritus Professor Mervyn Lewis, University of South Australia
Geoff has been an inspiration to staff and students alike. I had the good fortune to be both a student and a colleague.
John Lodewijks, Vice President – Academic,
Professor of Economics,
S P Jain School of Global Management|
Harcourt is such a glass half full person and his amiable nature and disposition make him such a joy to be around. He is very much a loved and familiar part of the (extended) family for academic economists of a certain vintage. I can still remember the first lecture I attended of his 45 years ago and the Cambridge tradition has been a constant source of interest, and amusement, since.
Happy Birthday to the Great Man.
Professor Michelle Baddeley, University of Technology Sydney
Happy Birthday Geoff! Geoff has been a wonderful friend and supporter since the 1990s, when – inspired by Keynes – I first made my way from UQ to Cambridge for my PhD. Geoff’s generosity impressed me from the beginning – generosity with his time, friendship and ideas. His open-minded receptiveness to many different economic perspectives and his commitments to social justice have been an inspiration to me. He was unfailingly supportive of my career – in his patient supervision of my PhD research, generous praise of my books and in his willingness to provide numerous job references over the decades. He was the first to suggest to me that I should embrace ideas from behavioural economics and think about survey designs in my empirical analyses – both now important features of my research.
Life has a way of circling round and we are now writing an article together which combines his fundamental contributions to investment theory with a little bit of behavioural economics. Also, now that I’m living in Coogee, I am just around the corner from Geoff and Joan so close enough to get together for tea and lamingtons – a lovely contrast to our previous get-togethers at Jesus & Caius Feasts and High Tables.
So thank you Geoff, most deeply, and Happy Birthday!
Robert Fisher, Senior Counsel, Office of the Director, Division of Examinations at US Securities and Exchange Commission, Adjunct Professor William & Mary – Raymond A. Mason School of Business
Please give Geoff my warmest regards, and wish him a very happy 90th birthday. I dedicated my first book–“The Logic of Economic Discovery”–to two people–Geoff Harcourt and my Mom. Clearly, such a dedication is beneficial, as your Dad is now 90 and my Mom is 92. (Yes, I know, Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc reasoning is a fallacy, but still). My Mom remains in good health, still living on her own on the farm where I grew up, and we had a big bash for her two years ago on her 90th birthday at the local firehouse, where my brother and I have been volunteer firemen. At key junctures in my life, Geoff was such a great mentor and friend to me. He inspired my lifelong embrace of economics, and, in particular, how one could use that analysis and discipline to advance the positions and opportunities of those at most need within society (which I feel I have done for much of my career–more on this below). Admittedly, I have done a bad job of keeping up with him over the years, but his inspiration, warmth and wisdom have always been at my side. I remember once asking him how he dealt so effectively with a press interview. He said you just have to trust that you have already done the thinking and the work within your life, and, in light of that, trust yourself–simple but profound and useful advice that I have recalled at points I needed it. He and I used to be running partners as well. He would run me into the ground, even though I am 23 years younger–but it was always a blast. Now, I will say that, back then, after a midday run, he might on occasion nod off during an afternoon seminar in the Adelaide Economics department, but, when he did so, he would always and inevitably wake up for the discussion, and then ask a stunningly brilliant and highly pertinent question; I could never figure out how he did that. Aside from his omnipresent warmth and humor, the most powerful influence Geoff had on me was his open and inquisitive mind. He wrestled with everything, challenged it with evidence and arguments, and then retained what was best in it. This is not only a great methodology, it is a great way to live life. Again, please give my warmest regards to your Dad–a great man and a great friend, who influenced my life deeply and for the better.
Neil Hart, UNSW
I first ‘met’ Geoff when I was trying to comprehend the Cambridge capital theory debates … it all came together after reading his brilliant exposition of these debates. Later that year I met him in person, when I was an undergraduate student at UNSW, and I was amazed that he remembered me when I met him again at a conference a number of years later. However, I soon realised that Geoff was one of those very unique and special people whose enormous intellect was matched by his generosity and genuine concern for his colleagues, irrespective of whether they were Cambridge professors or humble university tutors. Geoff has been a constant source of encouragement and guidance, as he has been for so many others. I hope Geoff moves quickly through the nervous nineties and reaches his well-deserved century with a few boundaries through the cover
Stewart Gill, Master, Queen’s College, University of Melbourne
Warmest congratulations from your many friends at Queen’s College, the University of Melbourne. Professor Geoffrey Harcourt AC was resident of Queen’s College, the University of Melbourne as an undergraduate from 1951-53 and was resident tutor in economics in 1954. Geoff is currently a Senior Fellow and was again in residence in 2002 as our distinguished Sugden Fellow. In recent years I have enjoyed conversations with you at the UNSW particularly your support and encouragement regarding collegiate education. You have not only been one of Australia’s most distinguished economists but a great supporter of the collegiate form of education through Queen’s and Jesus College Cambridge. I am sorry that we cannot enjoy your in-person company and advice this year and the opportunity to celebrate your 90th. Go well for many years to come and enjoy your 90th.
Therese Jefferson, Curtin University
I will forever be grateful for the opportunities I had to learn from Geoff’s many contributions at annual SHE conferences, where he combined great insight with similarly great humour and generosity.
Sonia Johannes, UNSW
It is my privilege to wish you all the best and say congratulations and for your 90th birthday (apologies the wishes are a bit belated). I do hope you had a wonderful day and was thoroughly spoilt by your family. The website your family has put together is just fantastic and wonderfully interesting. I have been enjoying reading about your and Joan’s life and experiences before I met you in 2015. Thank you for having welcomed me so warmly at the School. You are the embodiment of Spirit and Inspiration, to not only all of us at the school, but to students and every academic who has visited the school.
I hope this finds both you and Joan well. Once all this COVID is over, I hope we will be able to see you and Joan on campus and meet up for a coffee at JGs.
Thank you for always stopping by our offices to say a hello and check on how we were doing.
My very best and heartfelt wishes for a fantastic “birthday year” and always.
Sending a big hug
Professor Emeritus Murray Kemp
Welcome to the 90s!
I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to celebrate with you. Hoping you and Joan are safe and well.
With love, Murray
Dr Carolina Alves, Joan Robinson Research Fellow in Heterodox Economics, Girton College & Faculty of Economics University of Cambridge
You may not know, but I’ve always been a great admirer of you, and you have had a significant influence on my education as an economist. A little bit over three years ago, I got this position at Girton College as the Joan Robinson Research Fellow in Heterodox Economics, which led me to contact you directly and eventually met you in London in March 2018 via Jan Toporowski and the launch of his book on Kalecki. I was deeply honoured to meet you in person and have your attention. You have always been so generous with your time, giving me lots of support and encouragement. I will be forever grateful. Thank you. I will pass on the same care and attention to my students.
Happy Birthday! I hope you have a wonderful day with your close friend and family,
Professor Mario Garcia-Molina, Universidad Nacional de Colombia
Happy 90th, Geoff. I remember all your support as my PhD supervisor in the late 90s. Your humour, knowledge, wisdom and generosity were crucial for me at that time and have been an inspiration in my career ever since. I remember the students’ play in your honour when you left Cambridge. Staging it was big fun as everybody wanted to participate or help. And we all learnt the banana diagram!
Ian Kerr, Adjunct Professor, Curtin University
Happy 90th birthday, Geoff, and best wishes for the years ahead!
One of the enduring highlights of the various History of Economic Thought conferences I have attended (mostly in Australia) over the years has been your scholarly contribution (both your own papers and your discussion of others’ papers).
I’ll never forget your hospitality when I was a Visiting Fellow in the Faculty of Economics and Politics at Cambridge, during the time when you were President of Jesus College.
You have led an incredibly productive and busy life so far and made a wonderful contribution to the economics discipline, academia and Australia in so many different areas. I hope your remaining years of semi-retirement are enjoyable.
Emeritus Professor Keith Hancock AO, Flinders University
Warm good wishes on reaching a significant milestone! What a marvellous 90 years it has been! You are entitled to be very proud of what you have achieved. I look back fondly on our various connections, dating (I think) from being in your College tutorial at Melbourne. I am sorry for embarrassing you by addressing you as ‘Comrade’.
Sue and I have just returned from Darwin. We went there to celebrate the 80th birthday of Sue’s sister Jan. We are now locked down at home!
Enjoy the next ten years.
Lord Meghnad Desai
I met GH in the spring of 1966 in, where else, but Cambridge
He then was then and continues to be a one – off . My tribute to him is that he should spend his days and years ahead in as much peace and joy and love of his friends and family as he deserves
Emeritus Professor Kevin Davis AM, The University of Melbourne
Christine and I are very sorry to hear that Geoff’s health is not good. Please pass on my best wishes to Geoff for his birthday and the future – he’s had a great innings to date. He has been a great influence on me both personally and professionally. Among other things he was responsible for getting Mervyn Lewis and I to be invited to team up to do the survey of Australian Monetary Policy back in the late 1970s. We could do with more academics like him in our Universities today – both in terms of bringing people together to give some “life” in what is now a very sterile environment, and supporting colleagues, and with strong commitment to involvement in important public and social policy areas (where perhaps that didn’t always bring people together given entrenched political views).
With best wishes
Kevin (and Christine)
Professor Jayati Ghosh, Chairperson of the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
Happy 90th birthday to one of the most wonderful, generous, intellectually stimulating and wonderfully curious people it has been my good fortune to have known. Geoff was an incredible guide and mentor when I was a student, and has remained an inspiration ever since. Four decades after we first met, I realise how privileged I am to have known him and learnt from him, and how he made his courageous and difficult chosen path look like so much fun because of his joyous intellectual enthusiasm. You and Joan also remain my ideal of a truly loving and sharing couple.
Dr. Andy Cosh, University of Cambridge
No 1 Harcourt, G. 90 not out
One of my fondest memories is when Geoff introduced my conference presentation with these words:
“ and now I would like to introduce someone with whom I have shared the most intimate experience that two men can share … (pause) … a century opening partnership in a cup final!”
To be honest, the Department of Applied Economics cricket team at Cambridge (that also permitted the right sort of people from the Faculty to join) was probably more distinguished through its academic achievements than its sporting prowess. Nevertheless, I opened the batting with Geoff on many occasions and enjoyed the economy with which he scored runs by comparison with my more agricultural efforts. Well done on reaching ninety, let’s push on for the century.
Donald J. Harris, Professor of Economics Emeritus, Stanford University
Sending my very best wishes to Geoff for his 90th birthday. As a fellow economist, colleague and friend, he occupies a very special place, dear to those of us who’ve come to know and appreciate his many qualities and enjoy his company. Even more special for me is our shared love of cricket. I remember our animated discussions in the 1980s and early 90s about the highly competitive test series between the West Indies and Australia. Also, how can I ever forget the way he bowled me out for a duck with a tricky google in a friendly match on the Cambridge cricket ground back in the 70s! Cheers to you, my friend!
John Langmore AM Professorial Fellow and Chair, Initiative for Peacebuilding Board, University of Melbourne
Wholehearted wishes for your peace and comfort.
I think with great gratitude of your generous kindness and leadership. When I was studying at Cambridge for a year, you took my wife and I to dinner at Jesus; and several times introduced me to colleagues in the Economics Department. It was inspiring to learn about your commitment to strengthening the rigour and realism of economic analysis and to thinking through and writing about the implications of your important insights for public policy. Your sustained consistency continues to be an encouragement.
Your combination of passion about both theory and strategy was also presented with such great humanity and often with delightful humour that the intellectual difficulty and risks of opposition were greatly reduced.
Warmest appreciation for your vital and life-long contributions to intellectual economic and social understanding and aspiration, and with affection and admiration.
Professor Oliver Hart, Harvard University
I want to send my heartfelt congratulations on your 90th birthday!
I understand that your health is fragile, which prevented a full-blown celebration, but I can see from the pictures that you managed to have a good time anyway.
I remember fondly the personal interactions we have had over the years, first in Cambridge, and then at the odd conference, which also included some debates about economics! More recently I have very much enjoyed our email exchanges, and appreciate the fact that you were kind enough to read and comment on my recent work.
Rita joins me in sending very best wishes to you and your family!
All the best,
Stephanie Blankenburg, UNCTAD, Head of Debt & Development Finance
It has been a while, but you have always been with me.
My very best wishes to you and to your family for your 90th birthday. Remember your 80th birthday and our Cambridge celebrations?
Those highlighted your invaluable academic achievements for progressive economic thinking. Now, I am uploading one of the treasure trove of photos I have, since only one photo is allowed: This shows you in your element, namely surrounded by students enthused by your take on economics and you very accessible to us. Thank you – it made all the difference. I would have like to also upload another photo in which you cycle alongside Prue Kerr, our friend and colleague economist – thank you again for introducing me to Prue.
Your bottomline, as an economist and as a human being, has always been not just to be “progressive” in some professional sense (which matters, but is sort of easy), instead to live “progressiveness” in actual life. Well done, Geoff – I, for one, owe you for this insight as much as for your invaluable economic teaching. There are not many left who combine deep insight into the intellectual history of our discipline with a lived humanitarian approach to dealing with one’s (political, institutional and personal) surroundings. You are one of those few. Thank you.
Romar Correa, Reserve Bank of India Professor of Monetary Economics, University of Mumbai, India
We met decades ago when you were in Bombay to deliver a lecture ‘Non-neoclassical capital theory’ at a jubilee celebration of the Indian Economic Association. I bore nothing like the honorific title above but was a callow student. Our conversation was brief but your graciousness left an indelible mark on me. Your account of neoclassical capital theory was clear and deprecating but couched kindly. I recall the mood with nostalgia today as the language of members of our tribe against the mainstream gets strident (and tiresome). I note with sadness the internecine bickering. Stultifying scholasticism is a sure sign of degeneracy.
I don’t remember giving you my address but no sooner had you returned home a hard copy of your lecture was mailed to me with sweet words scribbled on a note. Some time later I sent you a paper I had written using elementary static game theory to model Kalecki’s article on Class Struggle and the Distribution of National Income. I sought help on a potential publication outlet. You offered sage and realistic advice.
May the Force be with you always, for the next ten years at least! Stay safe and healthy in mind and body.
Geoff Dow, The University of Queensland
By his own criteria, Geoff Harcourt has set out some of the most pressing and long-standing issues in political economy – first, his elaboration of ‘Cambridge controversies’ in the theory of capital, and second, his enunciation of the need for ‘situation-specific’ analyses to guide policy. In both these clusters of unsettled – and presumably never-to-be-settled – debate in the discipline, Harcourt’s guidance and admonishments have had discipline-defining resonance. Both are indicators of his substantial contributions to ongoing scholarship, allowing the anticipation of unresolved conundrums in the post-Keynesian worldview, yet suggesting that definitive paths to resolution may be impossible.
In each case, Harcourt’s writing shows, the problems have been there, and in evidence, since the beginning. Classical controversies continue still over definitions of capital, over conceptions of what wealth is, of how achievements can be assessed and measured, and even of how our efforts can sometimes – often – cloud the understanding we are attempting to ensure. Though Harcourt’s published work has been generous and extensive, it has, like all major contributions to social science, implications beyond those explicitly reckoned. Much remains to be done by followers. Argument will persist. And methodological disputes that have been prominent over the past two centuries will continue to distinguish different sub-branches of scholarship and to divide them against each other.
A complete understanding of capital is necessarily inter-disciplinary. It requires input from political science, sociology, history, economic anthropology and philosophy. These ancillary disciplines help to elucidate the scope (possibilities as well as limits) of purposive human and institutional action, ‘those variables which can be deliberately controlled’ as Keynes put it. If the nature of the task renders the Cambridge understanding of capital incomplete, the incompleteness is indicative of real intractability, rather than deficiencies in the political economy corpus thus far. Because it’s pan-disciplinary, intellectual appreciation of capital is always unfinished, contested and self-consciously inexact. Capital has never been a self-evident ‘thing’. Neither a sum of money nor a list of equipment, appreciation of capital’s power and importance requires an elaboration of the conditions which allow it to be combined with labour in a productive labour process. These conditions are historically contingent, interminably contested and consequently variable.
Harcourt’s reflections on capital prompt us to acknowledge that deliberate obfuscation and mischief-making (such as the assertion that capital is ‘factor of production’ commensurate with land and labour, and uniquely deserving of its ‘return’) has always characterised our intellectual history, absorbing much effort and creating unnecessary (or necessary?) angst. Strong and recurrent suggestions persist that maverick forms of analysis may not have been as unhelpful as the orthodox tradition has pretended.
Seeking to avoid both reckless dogmatism and insipid caution, Harcourt has recommended a ‘horses for courses’ approach (to theoretical and policy-oriented political economy): if conclusions must be tailor-made for each country’s history, sociological structure and inherited institutions, as he has rightly insisted, we’re all obliged all to downplay grand ambitions while maintaining vision and alertness to material possibilities. We (all human societies) are inextricably caught in a contradiction that cannot be eliminated, or managed. Simultaneously, as structural constraints confront our deliberative efforts, efforts to circumvent them are unceasing and recurrently inevitable, but, as we’ve all been reminded in recent decades, these latter are frequently unsuccessful. In Geoff Harcourt’s rendering, observed variability, together with unsettled academic skirmishes between theorists, dictate a quest for ‘plausible’ instead of definitive or overly assertive judgements. Nonetheless, it now seems that even modest plausibility (in reasoning or in policymaking) is easily countered with derision, not just from politically recalcitrant voices, but increasingly from intellectuals too.
Post-Keynesian argument has long postulated that achieving full employment is less difficult than maintaining it once it is attained. This is because, as Harcourt (with his close collaborator Claudio Sardoni) has argued – and as Marx and Keynes similarly concurred – economic activity necessarily transforms industrial structure, not just quantitatively but also qualitatively. The investment which leads to increments in capacity may be misjudged and probably also depends on decisions made in other sectors, where, in turn, investment outcomes cannot be guaranteed. Regular growth of industrial capacity causes sectoral adjustment and will not normally lead to smooth processes of economic development.
Geoff Harcourt has also been well aware that political or national settlements can be caught in the underlying turbulence. Australian labour in the 1970s and 1980s attempted to develop ‘fixes’ roughly in accordance with the Cambridge-Keynesian tradition, though also informed by vibrant research drawing from comparative political economy, and to a discernible if limited extent, from Marxism. All the components – indexation of wages for price increases, struggles to extend incomes control to all (non-wage) incomes, challenges to private prerogative in industrial restructuring during the ascendancy of globalisation – were resisted by those interested in narrowing the scope of domestic economic policy.
Unfortunately, the successes of arbitration over its 100-year history (with its effective institution-building) could not be built-on to convert the proposals of the Accord period into ongoing mechanisms for control of inflation and income distribution and levels of employment. National wellbeing was sacrificed. Australia’s political class and associated advocates (labour, social justice activists, expansive thinkers) were sidelined and Cambridge economics ‘down under’ was thwarted, in the 1980s, precisely when it promised significant accommodation between empirical opportunities and unreasonable limits.
This discrepancy between technical possibilities of the economy and actual achievements for the populace remains the most serious disappointment in contemporary polities. The post-Keynesian imagination, with Geoff Harcourt as its most noteworthy contemporary envoy, has reminded us that opposites coexist. Crises and responses to crises, structural constraints and voluntaristic attempts to resist them, the intractability of economic forces and deliberate actions of the polity, seemingly eternal resistance to good policy from within the polity and the responsibilities of politics itself, a public sphere insisting on its integrity together with what has been called the ‘dialectic of hope and fear’ all coincide. Together these constitute the confusing open-endedness of present trends. Without Geoff Harcourt and post-Keynesianism, we would not be able to recognise any favourable collaboration between Marx and Keynes.
Professor Robert Dixon, University of Melbourne
Thank you for being such wonderful friend. I am privileged to have known such a warm person and such a clear writer and communicator, a great economist and an original thinker.
This website has been a labour of love, an imperfect attempt to gather your students, colleagues, friends and family — it takes a village — to properly thank you for all that you have done for each of us, with tributes from everyone you have touched and inspired with your intellectual, social, and personal generosity.
Your contributions have changed the world, not only for each of us individually, but for the communities of Post Keynesians, Cambridge, Economics, Australia and beyond. The world is a far better place because of your work and your presence.
The forthcoming 50th anniversary edition of your landmark book speaks volumes to the importance of Some Cambridge Controversies in the Theory of Capital. Tiago Mata and I have tried our best to do justice in the Afterwords to you and your remarkable accomplishments. Looking forward to being together for the book launch.