Testimonials and Greetings M – Z
Click on a name to see the testimonial or birthday greeting.
Honorary Professor of Economics, Sapienza University of Rome (excerpt)
I have known Geoff Harcourt personally for more than 40 years; and longer than that through his works. In this occasion, I could certainly speak of Geoff’s enormous contribution to economics, but I wish to talk about the most important thing that Geoff taught me first as a student, then as a colleague, a friend and relative: his fairness and open-mindedness in doing and teaching economics. All know Geoff’s firm and convinced commitment to Keynesian and Post Keynesian economics and his defence of such approaches from criticisms as well as his attempt to provide their development. Geoff’s convinced engagement, however, has never meant his loss of fairness and kindness towards everybody, particularly those who had different views. He defends his ideas and opinions with arguments and rational reasoning, in the hope of convincing the other that he is right but also ready to accept objections and criticisms…
People, or schools of thought, with different ideas from ours are not the ‘enemy’ to defeat, or ignore altogether, but subjects with views that have to be known and critically discussed. The hope is that all this can bring about a better comprehension of what one is discussing thanks to our as well others’ contributions. Geoff, I believe has always followed this way…
Geoff’s contributions to economics are there and many can benefit from them, but I think that his kind open-minded attitude towards the others is equally, if not more, important; especially in the current academic and, more generally, social environment in which extreme ‘tribalism’ and the obsessive affirmation of one’s identity is taking the upper hand by preventing the confrontation of different ideas.
Emeritus Professor University of Strathclyde, Glasgow
Such a fine, brilliant and very approachable fellow, and I’m sorry to learn he is in frail health. My first and abiding memory of (a young, very fit) Geoff is from a plenary speech he gave on capital theory at a big AUTE conference in, I think, Warwick University, c.1973, that he ended by saying he must now rush off to the squash courts.
Constantinos Repapis, Goldsmiths, University of London
My best wishes for your 90th birthday!
Being your Ph.D. student has been one of the defining moments of my life- both as an academic, but, also more substantially, as a thinking human being. The way you teach economics, always relating theory with policy, empirical and analytical argument, has influenced the way I see the economy and the profession. The defining feature of this approach is that economics is a moral discipline that is part of political discourse. You made me realize that practitioners or theorists do analysis that has inbuilt moral judgments, and this is something economists should live with and try to make explicit instead of hiding behind technical argument.
It is this principle, and the overall orientation of your work and teaching that has been the guiding light of our undergraduate degrees in economics in Goldsmiths. I hope you see in this teaching and research community an affinity of purpose and method, for we see ourselves as a small part of your intellectual and teaching legacy.
I have also attached a picture of your 2018 visit to Goldsmiths!
With best wishes,
Indigenous Librarian Officer, James Cooke University
UNSW MBA Student
The first time I had coffee with Professor Harcourt was (to say the least) a life changing moment. As a timid, quiet, shy student undertaking a business degree at one of the top universities in Australia, Professor Harcourt saw right through my invisibility cloak, I did not stand a chance against his persistent self belief in me. He is the reason I am back at UNSW Business School undertaking a Masters Degree in Business Administration (Technology) with The Australian Graduate School of Management. So I just want to thank you Professor Harcourt for all of the yarns we had over time. You (and Bec) have given me the greatest gift I could possibly ask for, the power of self-belief. I believe I was meant to meet you because if I didn’t, I would not have achieved my current goal. I dedicate my MBAX (Technology) degree to you.
Chris Sumner, Attorney General in the Corcoran, Bannon and Arnold Governments. B.O.G 1972 Grand Final.
Congratulations on a stellar 90 years.
I was going through some old papers and found notes of the speech I gave at the Geoff Harcourt Testimonial dinner held on 14 August 1982 prior to your departure for Cambridge. I also found the program signed by you which is attached. The Advertiser of 19 August 1982 recorded your rousing farewell with a photo of you and Fred Bloch. You claim that you were “bucketed” by friends and that everyone had a good time except you, said with a laugh. The article mentions Rex Hunter and me as guests. Occasioned again by you going to Cambridge Rex took over from you mid -year in 1972 as Captain of the A4 Reserves team and lead us to glorious victory in the Grand Final. We were the chief bucketers. The Nuremberg defence is not given much credence these days but I can only say that we were directed by a higher authority in the person of Fred Bloch to go hard. He demanded a proper roast.
You may recall the topics covered. Inevitably a series of bad jokes about economists but consumed with enthusiasm by the audience. A person who can explain what is going to happen next month and explain later why it didn’t. A man (this was an all- boys show fitting for the times) who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible. Where five economists are gathered together there will be six conflicting opinions and two of them will be held by Keynes. In our telling this became you.
Gaza Oval was built on an old pig farm. It was where I first learnt to kick a football, very badly as it turned out. On a cold wet foggy mid- winter’s day it was a slush paddock. You were the captain and on checking the team at the end of the game discovered that the full forward had not turned up. The whole game was played with 17 men on the field and one on the bench. We lost six points to five. I can no longer remember whether this story was actually true, involved a different team or was a complete urban myth. Apocryphal or not, it served its purpose on the night.
We were also in possession of a copy of The Advertiser which had a page one headline ‘ Professor Hits Hospital – “Could Have Died”’. You had been addressing a Jaycee luncheon in 1968 and admirably espousing the need for greater commitment to public spending on health and education. In support you gave the example of your two hour wait in casualty and the potential consequences after being injured at Kenilworth in an A3 Reserves game. In my speech there was some speculation about the seriousness of your injuries. Neither the suburb of Kenilworth or its football team still exist.
We acknowledged the award of the prestigious J T Goose Memorial Trophy to you in 1981 for being injured not while playing but boundary umpiring!
I concluded by expressing concern about the potential culture shock of going to Cambridge. We wanted you to fit in, make a good impression and not appear to be a colonial hick. A present to take with you would make it easier. The much heralded TV adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s novel Brideshead Revisited was enthralling us all. Jeremy Irons played Charles Ryder and Anthony Andrews Lord Sebastian Flyte. There were parts for Laurence Olivier and John Gielgud who were still with us. Flyte’s constant companion was a rather large teddy bear called Aloysius. Something like this would help you not to feel out of place in your new home. So to great hilarity you were presented with a teddy bear, a somewhat more modest example of the species than Flyte’s. We conveniently overlooked that Ryder and Flyte were students at Oxford not Cambridge.
Dr Suzanne Roux also sends her best wishes and remembers with fondness your hosting us for lunch at Jesus College while she was in Cambridge researching for her PhD.
Pro Vice Chancellor (Research Impact and Translation)
Director, Centre for Transformative Innovation, Swinburne University of Technology, Australia
Many happy returns for your birthday!!
You have been a simply brilliant mentor and supervisor for me and I still think of many of the idea and ways of thinking that you tried to instil in me.
I fully appreciated your cheeky approach to life and nuanced understanding not only of economics but your thoughts on moral philosophy. All made more real by your anecdotes of people you have met along your career.
I am thankful for the extra time and effort you have made to give me references and recommend me for publications and academies that would not have otherwise materialised.
Enjoy the day – we are all thinking of you
Professor of Economics, The New School for Social Research
Happy 90th birthday, Geoff, and many happy returns! It’s an honour and a pleasure to contribute to the celebrations of this personal milestone.
I’ll always be grateful for your guidance and good humour during my mid-80’s student days in Cambridge. They were dark times in some respects (locally and nationally), but you were always a beacon of light, both academically and personally. It was you who pointed me towards John Cornwall (and so to the next phase of my career) and together with John, your influence on my intellectual journey has been immeasurable. So here’s to real men (as opposed to money men)!!
Professor of Economics the Department of Economics and the Schulich School of Business
Congratulations today on your 90th Birthday Geoff!
I well remember your “Fifty Years a Keynesian”. Well, that has to be up-dated to 70 now, and it is me who has reached the 50 mark.
I am thinking today of many happy times in the past, in Cambridge and elsewhere.
Geoff, thank you so much for all that you have done for economics and for me personally all these years – and for many, many, others in our ‘trade’ (your word) all over the world.
Rick van der Ploeg
Professor of Economics, University of Oxford
I met Geoff in 1979 when I joined the Department of Applied Economics with a zero background in economics to work on the Cambridge Growth Project. As I only understood many decades later, this was an exciting time in Cambridge with most of the interaction going on in the tea room at the top floor of the building twice a day. There were all the most brilliant theorists from all over the world brought in by Frank Hahn, there was the influence of the wonderful James Meade, and there were the more left-wing group with people like Joan Robinson, John Eatwell, Wynne Godley. And there was Geoff the most congenial and wisest of all. I was kind of mentored by James and Richard, but on a day to day basis a learned invaluable things about the Cambridge versus Cambridge debate from Geoff. We lost touch over the years, but I owe you big time for all the nice discussions I had when I was young. You are the best. Have a wonderful birthday. With very best wishes to you and your family.
University of Sheffield
I first encountered Geoff as an undergraduate in Cambridge in 1982. He gave us a rich grounding in capital theory and the Cambridge post-Keynesian tradition that sadly few students would encounter now. It’s left a lasting impression.
I am surely not the only person to point out that Geoff is just about the most generous, humane soul one could wish to meet (and the economics profession is not exactly noted for producing such people). He always prefaced his courses by setting out what he believed in before adding that he’d rather read a first rate attack on everything he believed than a third rate defence of his own beliefs, “partly because I don’t want to want to be on the side of the third raters.” He meant it and he practiced it.
Happy 90th birthday, Geoff
Emeritus Professor Martin Watts
University of Newcastle
Many congratulations on reaching this major milestone. It is a great achievement.
I first came across your work in late 1974 early 1975. We had returned from Vancouver where I was doing a very orthodox PhD thesis at UBC on labour market search theory which was highly fashionable at the time. We had been persuaded by an Aussie friend that Melbourne was the centre of the universe, so I secured an academic job at Monash as an orthodox labour economist. To my surprise, I had been assigned to teach Economic Growth (a compulsory undergraduate course) and an Honours course Capital and Growth. My expertise in the subject matter was confined to a one semester course in Neoclassical Growth Theory at UBC.
Naively I purchased a somewhat esoteric text on capital theory, while in the UK, which to my surprise and amusement contained jokes, in addition to serious subject matter! It was a hard read, but at least there were moments of light relief.
Your book and the nature of the subject matter, plus the influence of colleagues, Frearson and Riach, meant that I quickly started to engage with Post Keynesian Theory which was accelerated by the presence of Joan Robinson in my first semester of teaching at Monash. That was challenging!
Two encounters with you many years ago come to mind. The first was dinner at Peter Riach’s house in Hawthorn, before you went back to Cambridge, when a well-known neoclassical economist attended! Second, I enjoyed your hospitality at Jesus College, with all its traditions and I attended a Fellows dinner. I also recall taking twenty minutes the following morning chipping ice off my windscreen after a particularly cold, Cambridge night.
In the years since you returned to Australia, our interactions have mainly been confined to SHE Conferences, one of the few heterodox conferences in Australia, which now sadly has ceased. Your comments on SHE papers, some of which were somewhat dull, were always incisive and witty.
I would consider myself an acquaintance, rather than a close friend, but, like numerous other academics, I have always received a warm welcome from you and an interest in my work, although you have never been a great fan of MMT! You have always been prepared to write references for aspiring academics.
I have not commented on your prodigious output and your significant impact on post-Keynesian economics. I shall leave that to those who worked closely with you in collaborative projects over the years, including the numerous co-edited books.
I hope that you enjoy this significant day, surrounded by your family.
Robert Marks Professor Emeritus
Geoff and I are distant cousins: he is the grandnephew of the husband of my grandaunt, or to put it another way his maternal grandmother’s brother married my paternal grandfather’s sister — I said it was distant! And we were both Melbourne lads — I went to Scotch, Geoff to Wesley; during the war the Navy had commandeered Wesley’s buildings on St Kilda Road, and Scotch and Wesley shared Scotch’s buildings at Hawthorn. But that was before my time. He remains an ardent AFL follower. We were both at Cambridge: he at Trinity Hall in the ‘60s and then at Jesus in the ‘80s and ’90s, while I was at Pembroke in the ’70s. I studied his 1972 book, Some Cambridge controversies in the theory of capital, while completing my PhD.
I came to economics from engineering at Melbourne, so I was unaware of Geoff or his work until I was at Cambridge and Stanford, studying economics, when I learned about his research on the capital reswitching controversy. I remember first meeting Geoff when I went over to Adelaide in March 1976 to sound him out about a job there after I’d finished my PhD at Stanford. In the event I came to the new AGSM at UNSW in 1977. After Geoff’s retirement from Adelaide, he and Joan came to Sydney and we became colleagues and friends at the School of Economics, UNSW, and enjoying regular lunches with the gang. Geoff’s son Tim is a long-time best friend of one of my AGSM PhD students, Owen Young.
Geoff has been urging me to apply my model-simulation magic to an early paper of his, “A two-sector model of the distribution of income and the level of employment in the short-run.” I have been very slow. Apologies, Geoff. In the meantime, it was Geoff who urged me to ask Bob Solow to write a preface for the reprinted edition of my 1978 PhD thesis in 2018: Bob wrote a fine piece. In turn, I nominated Geoff to become a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW, where I edit the Journal. An outstanding economist, Geoff is always interested to learn what his colleagues and their students are up to. He is very generous at making connections, both of ideas and between people. Thank you, Geoff.
Professor of Sociology Macquarie University
Geoff Harcourt has been a tremendous supporter of sociologists and always as interested to learn from us as we from him. Most of all there is his colleague for years at Cambridge, Geoffrey Ingham. He is now our foremost scholar in the sociology of money.
Geoff Harcourt unsurprisingly proved to be an excellent co-editor of a collection we put together for Geoff Ingham a few years ago:
Financial crises and the nature of capitalist money: Mutual developments from the challenge of Geoffrey Ingham. 2013 (eds.) J. F. Pixley and G. C. Harcourt, Palgrave Macmillan
Geoff, you are unique and a very decent person.
Very many happy returns for your 90th birthday. Happy returns in my view means generosity and mutual solidarity.
Adelaide University Football Club
Best wishes and regards to Geoff: an especially great comrade in the anti-Vietnam war struggle in Adelaide way back when…
Associate Professor in Economics, Federation Business School
President of the History of Economic Thought Society of Australia
On behalf of all members of HETSA and wish Geoff Happy birthday from all of us. We hope that he is in good health, all things considered.
Head School of Economics, UNSW
“It has been a great pleasure and an honour to know Geoff Harcourt as a colleague at UNSW Economics. His never-ending enthusiasm, deep insights and boundless sense of humour inspired me and many colleagues.
Big thank you, Geoff, and happy 90th birthday! “
Professor David T. Runia and Gonni Runia
If I am well informed, you are celebrating your ninetieth birthday. Our warmest congratulations on reaching this milestone. Gonni and I hope that you and Joan are fit and well and can have a lovely day together.
I do fear that the rather sudden lockdown may interfere with your celebratory plans, which would be a great shame.
Inevitably my thoughts go back to 2002, my first year at Queen’s as Master, when you were the Sugden fellow, and esp. the trek to the You Yangs and your amazing (and perhaps unwise) climb up Flinders Peak while recovering from your hip operation.
Those were days to remember, but no doubt they will be crowded out by so many more over the course of a long life with many blessings and achievements.
It would be a delight if our paths crossed again before too long.Gonni and I are both well and very much enjoying retirement. It is a privileged time of life. We do miss very much our normal overseas travel, and have now not see the grandchildren in Amsterdam for 18 months.
With warmest congratulations again and equally warm greetings to you and Joan,
Neville R. Norman
Hon. Principal Fellow/Assoc. Professor: Department of Economics
The University of Melbourne (excerpt)
On June 27th the colourful Australian-Cambridge economist Geoff Harcourt turns 90. He deserves more than a Nobel Prize for what he has done, especially in the Covid-enduring circumstances of the world. Margaret and I came to cherish Geoff (and Joan) and to have had them in our homes in Melbourne and Cambridge. He loved Cambridge… Keep going, GCH!
University of Denver
I want to thank you for all the things you have done for me. I have certainly appreciated and learned a lot from your work, mainly on the capital critique and the workings of and issues within post-Keynesian economics. You have been a giant in our way of thinking about economics.
What you have specifically done for me has been to appreciate my work and to give me very helpful comments on it. Both your understanding of the ideas of Keynes and Kalecki and your knowledge of the work of those who also contributed to these ideas helped me in my attempts to work on them. You also of course helped a tremendous amount by writing letters for me when I was being examined for promotion.
You wrote the Foreword to my book, Kalecki’s Principle of Increasing Risk and Keynesian Economics. I have attached a copy of this Foreword here with this message as a contribution to the Web site being set up in honor of your 90th birthday. (In Articles and Reviews link) It was really an honor to have you do this. I think the book has done well, as Routledge brought out a paperback edition of it in 2013. It was originally your idea that I write such a book, and your comments on various chapters and articles that I sent you were immensely valuable.
It was also wonderful when you and Joan came here to Denver in January 2011. All of us here had a great time, and it was great to have you speaking to our students as well as being able to spend time with you all informally.
I certainly wish you a Happy Birthday! I hope you have many more happy years!
Up Sira Nukulkit
University of Utah
I write to pay tribute to Geoff Harcourt. Although I never have a chance to directly correspond with him, Geoff Harcourt’s works and kindness build my career path. In 2018, I sent my paper to the Cambridge Journal of Economics. The referee was very kind to copy-edit my paper. My language was not good, and I did not know the correct/standard terms in the capital theory literature. I was at the time a Ph.D. student at the University of Utah. I got the paper published, and it became a part of my dissertation. I recently read Avi J. Cohen’s tribute to Geoff Harcourt, and his account of Geoff back my belief. The referee has an “atrocious handwriting”, and the referee insisted that I need to include W. E. G. Salter’s works on technological progress in my paper. I think the referee for my paper is Geoff Harcourt.
I met Geoff in person when I was an MA student at the University of Denver around 2010-11. Geoff was in Tracy Mott’s office, and Mott asked me to go to a local coffee shop next to our campus to get coffee for Geoff before his scheduled talk. I still remember how Geoff spent time thanking me and asked me about my personal life, although I was so young I did not understand his intention. I bought his book Some Cambridge Controversies in the Theory of Capital after the talk. The capital theory became my obsession since then. Without Geoff’s kindness and his works in the capital theory, I would not keep pursuing the capital theory.
Economist & Director, Centre for Future Work, UNSW
Sending thanks and best wishes to Geoff Harcourt and his whole clan on this wonderful landmark. Geoff’s influence and inspiration reach progressive economist around the globe including here in Canada Thank you Geoff and Happy Birthday.
I wish you a very happy birthday. I do so with fond memories of meeting you in Cambridge with Michael when you arranged for Michael and me to stay at Jesus College. We were newly married and I was delighted to spend a few days of our honeymoon at “Jesus”.
I also remember that, shortly after our arrival, you celebrated your 70th (I think) birthday.
It has been a great pleasure for me to have known you in the years since.
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.
Director Energy Policy Research Group
University of Cambridge
Happy birthday and many thanks for your unfailing good humour, particularly in the fraught period of faculty divisions and acrimony – you were about the only person trusted by all sides, and also a wonderful historian of that period (and of course much else besides). I am particularly grateful for all the help you gave me in putting together a memoire of Frank Hahn. No-one else had such a close ear to the ground and so able to reveal the thoughts and views of the big beasts in the jungle. I also treasure fond memories of meeting up with you in Sydney on the water front (and of course various parties and dinners here in Cambridge). May your star continue to burn brightly to illuminate successive generations.
All my love,
FacSS Emeritus Professor of Applied Economics, University of Kent
Many congratulations on your 90th birthday. What an achievement! We first met in Cambridge in 1963 when I was a PhD student at Christ’s and you were a Visitor in the Economics Faculty (I think). You always dominated the Common Room conversation with economic gossip and funny stories. You acted as a magnet for PhD students. J.K. Galbraith was the tallest economist in the world, but you were definitely the funniest. Our paths crossed several times after Cambridge. Do you remember the night that I spent in your house in Adelaide on July 29th 1981 – the day that Prince Charles and Diana Spencer got married? I didn’t expect so much cheering and jollity in a republican family. I had the feeling that you may be a closet monarchist! We met at Post Keynesian Summer Schools in Trieste and in the States, and your after-dinner speeches were always the highlight. You sometimes came to the Keynes Seminars that I organised at the University of Kent in the 1970s and 1980s, and indeed you edited the volume on Keynes and His Contemporaries (Macmillan, 1985) held to celebrate the centenary of Keynes’s’ birth in 1983. Your contribution to economics has been enormous, and your missionary zeal to make the world a more civilised place in which to live has shone through all your work. You became, as Keynes wanted economists to be, ‘a trustee of the possibility of civilisation’.
Greg O’Leary, Former student, colleague and team member.
Well played Geoff. We’ve had our three quarter time oranges and so far so good. We might be tiring a bit but the blistering speed, outrageous courage and deft skills you’ve displayed throughout the game should get us over the line.
You remain an inspiring reference point in my life and many others.
John McCombie, Downing College, Cambridge.
My warmest congratulations on your ninetieth birthday and it is an appropriate occasion for reminiscing, especially as I have now retired from Cambridge. I was enormously privileged to have been an undergraduate and postgraduate student at Cambridge in the early 1970s. Undoubtedly, there was what might be termed at that time a distinctive “Cambridge Economics”. It was a more fruitful and illuminating way for analysing the economic system, although, as an undergraduate, I did not fully appreciate it at the time. I do, however, remember a scathing comment from a supervisor on one of my essays that “ this is all rather neoclassical”! It was only through listening to you in later years that I came fully to appreciate the intellectual worth of the then Cambridge economists. They did not always agree with each other, to say the least! I recall that “Radio Harcourt”, as you were affectionately called, was always the best source of information for what was going on in the Faculty.
Academically, in those years one of the major debates was about capital theory. Luckily Some Cambridge Controversies in the Theory of Capital was published in 1972. I say luckily because, with your usual clear style of writing, this book made what had until then been to us postgraduates an important, but somewhat technical and difficult subject, crystal clear. I recall a dinner which you attended, many years later, at Downing, I think, where Frank Fisher of MIT, a quintessentially neoclassical microeconomist, but one of the leading authorities on the production function and its insurmountable aggregation problems gave the after-dinner speech. He was certainly scathing about the aggregate production function, calling it, in the published version of the speech, “a pervasive but unpersuasive fairytale”.
Not surprisingly, you did not agree with Frank that the capital theory controversies were merely a subset of the more general aggregation problem. There was much more to them than that and it involves the whole way one views the functioning of the capitalist economic system. For me it was best summed up in single sentence by you: “Capital hires labour but labour does not hire capital”. This was in your 1976 “The Cambridge Controversies: Old Ways and New Horizons – or Dead End?” I have just reread the article after a number of years – a model of clarity, balance (especially in view of the tenor of some of the neoclassical responses at the time) and persuasion.
What I find amazing is how all mention about the problems of aggregate production functions have disappeared and simply been forgotten by the majority of the profession. This is not withstanding your and Avi Cohen’s (2003), excellent concise paper about whatever happened to the capital controversies. The key questions in the so-called top economics journals now revolve around what are the best econometric techniques to estimate the “normalised” CES function and is the aggregate elasticity of substitution less than unity? The first fully articulated correct heliocentric explanation of the movement of the planets was by Aristarchus of Samos (310-230BC). It only took two thousand years for the this to be rediscovered and the geocentric theory finally abandoned. However, I’m not sure whether or not to draw any comfort from this! I am delighted to learn that a special 50th anniversary edition of Some Cambridge Controversies in the Theory of Capital is being organised. I shall return my well-thumbed copy to the Downing library, from which I have had it on (very) long loan and treat myself to the special edition.
I never took a course of lectures from you as an undergraduate. You were at the time somewhat peripatetic, spending time in Cambridge and also in Adelaide. However, I don’t think I have enjoyed any seminars more than yours. They were witty, anecdotal but also very informative, like your after-dinner speeches. You always left us wanting more!
During your time at Cambridge I know personally that you have been of immense support to your students, colleagues and friends. You once gave me some advice on a proposed career change. It was simply “don’t”, or words to that effect. It is the sort of advice that is very helpful … no “ifs” or “buts”. I took it and never regretted it and I am forever grateful to you for this.
It is very understandable that you finally returned to Australia for your retirement, but Australia’s gain has definitely been Cambridge’s loss.
Once again, very best wishes for this special birthday.
Mario Seccareccia, Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Ottawa
Congratulations on this very special occasion of your 90th birthday! You will undoubtedly remember it but we first met in Montreal when I was a graduate student at McGill University in the mid-1970s, where you had lectured on your book that had just recently come out on the Cambridge capital controversies. That first lecture at McGill had impacted me a great deal and I remember quickly ordering through the local bookstore a copy of the book that I still have in my possession! It was such a remarkable synthesis of the debates but also it was done with an the incredible humour that was the hallmark of who you are as amazing intellectual! In addition to the McGill years, thanks primarily to Tom Asimakopulos, we also saw each other periodically, such as when I attended the Trieste Summer School in 1983 together with, among others, Peter Kriesler and Claudio Sardoni. We subsequently met in Cambridge when I was visiting there briefly in 1987, and then, among other such encounters, we met at the Levy Economics Institute conference in memory of Tom Asimakopulos in 1992. Somehow, despite the incredible physical distance that separated us, over the many years there was always this special intellectual gravitational pull that brought us together periodically either directly or through the interaction with so many of our good common friends throughout my career as an academic economist. It has been such a privilege to have maintained that warm friendship over almost five decades!
I wish you the best of health and happiness on this very special occasion!
Dimitri Uzunidis, Professor of Economics, RNI, Paris
Your thoughts, your critical analyses, your impressive knowledge on political economy and particularly on the work of Joan Robinson have opened up new perspectives in research on the economics of change since the beginning of this century in France
The Research Network on Innovation, Paris (http://2ri.eu) expresses its gratitude to your work
Long and happy life
Emeritus Professor Frank Stilwell, University of Sydney
Congratulations, Geoff, on entering your 10th decade: it is a remarkable ‘not out’ innings by a stylish and widely admired player…
An early contact that I particularly treasure goes back to the mid-1970s when you were chairing a committee on academic freedom for economists. Your support for the political economists at Sydney Uni who were challenging economic orthodoxy and mis-use of professorial power was timely and significant, contributing greater legitimacy to our struggle. On behalf of all the Political Economy students and staff at that time, very many thanks. Since then, approximately 20 thousand students have taken units of study in the PE program at Sydney Uni, which is one measure (KPI?) of the achievement to which you contributed at that early stage.
There’s lots of other good memories of course, including the seminar/lectures with Joan Robinson when she visited Sydney, being together in Trieste at one of those post-Keynesians gatherings (only one of the many you attended, I’m sorry to say), meeting regularly at conferences in Sydney, especially at the annual SHE events, and at the annual Ted Wheelwright lectures at Sydney Uni.
Throughout everything you’ve done, you have maintained an admirable balance between academic excellence and personal wit, friendship and humanity.
Indeed, you have made being a political economist an even more enjoyable and fulfilling experience.
Geoff, many thanks and best wishes, both personally and collectively on behalf of your fellow travellers in the PE movement at Sydney Uni.
Peter Riach, Research Fellow IZA, Institute of Labor Economics
In the early 70s econometrics and free-market economics were the flavour of the day at Monash economics. This left Keith Frearson and me very much on the sidelines. This all changed when “Some Cambridge controversies in the theory of capital” was published, because Geoff had made some very complimentary and generous references to my early publications. Fortunately for me Don Cochrane was still the Chairman and he successfully nominated me for a Readership.
Later in 1987, when I was seeking a post in England, initially I encountered considerable difficulty and, as a labour economist whose specialty was employment discrimination, I felt like a cardiologist having a heart attack. Geoff came to the rescue and provided considerable support until I was appointed as Head of Department at Leicester Polytechnic, which later became DeMontfort University. Whilst there I was successful in having four nominations for Honorary doctorates approved. Geoff’s partners in that group were Kurt Rothschild, Barbara Bergmann, and Barbara Castle.
In February 2020 I was obliged to shield and have been incarcerated since in my Bloomsbury flat, so to keep sane I decided to try my hand at writing a novel. It is in the genre of alternative history and imagines a peaceful outcome of World War I flowing from the famous Christmas truce of 1914. For the troops I imagined the successful Richmond football team of the late 60s/early 70s with stars such as Royce Hart and Kevin Sheedy. For the junior officer I chose a football-active University of Melbourne student called Harcourt. The football captain and Harcourt play a key role in establishing the peace negotiations and consequently are awarded the Order of Merit by George the Fifth. I am so glad that it was it was published in time to send Geoff a copy and that he found it “a real page turner”.
It is obvious from the above that Geoff played a fundamental role in my career, so an Honorary doctorate and a key role in a newly-published novel are small recompense for the generous support he has always provided me. I am very pleased to congratulate him on becoming a nonagenarian.
Tim Thornton, School of Political Economy, Melbourne.
Happy 90th birthday Geoff. Thanks also for all your great work in research, teaching and in the building of good institutions and organisations. The way you approach the game of life is instructive for us all. I really appreciate all the big things you have done but also the everyday things such as your generosity, encouragement, and warmth. You are somebody I look up to. All the best
Mike Meeropol (Kings ’64)
I got to know Geoff in 1965-66, my second year at Cambridge going for my second BA (and then MA) after graduating from a US undergraduate economics program.
We would sometimes run into each other as we bicycled from the section of Cambridge near the Grantchester pathway to the Sedgwick site. Despite the fact that I was a lowly undergraduate he was always most encouraging for me and when I went off to graduate school back in the states we kept in touch.
I remember the excitement I felt when he sent me the manuscript for the JEL article about the Cambridge controversies (which he would later turn into an extremely important book).
Over the years it has been my pleasure to run into him from time to time on visits to Cambridge — Geoff always had a kind word, an encouraging word — he was the very model of a senior faculty member taking interest in all the students — from undergrads to research students — and always, I am sure, an outstanding colleague for his fellow faculty members.
I am not sure how many students and scholars still read and appreciate Piero Sraffa’s PRODUCTION OF COMMODITIES but for years, it was Geoff’s and Vincent Massaro’s explicating article that was the “way in” for many of us unclear about how to jump from Ricardo directly to Sraffa …
Geoff — you have touched and influenced countless of us lesser mortals —
Thank you — and keep it up.
Professor Alan Woodland, UNSW
I have known of Geoff and his great reputation for a long time, but got to know him personally following my move to UNSW back in 2008 – coincidently the year Geoff joined UNSW as a Visiting Professorial Fellow. Fortunately, our offices are in the same wing and, in fact, just across the corridor from each other, so we saw each other regularly ever since I arrived at UNSW – almost daily until COVID-19 came along.
I have thoroughly enjoyed conversations with Geoff, his friendly personality, and his engaging company (including at seminars, dinners and Friday morning coffee). I have been amazed at his dedication to scholarship and considerable energy in continuing to produce books and other research outputs – if I can achieve even a fraction of your energy and accomplishments, I will be more than pleased. A special focus and accomplishment of Geoff’s that has particularly impressed me concerns his promotion of colleagues in the profession, particularly with fellowship nominations and activities within the Academy of the Social Sciences of Australia (ASSA).
Geoff, the occasion of your 90th birthday is a great milestone, and certainly one to celebrate. I would offer some advice to at least take some time away from your books and scholarship to enjoy the occasion, but I fear that you probably won’t heed it for long!
Happy 90th birthday, Geoff!
Paul Twomey, UNSW
Congratulations to Geoff on this landmark birthday.
I will let more eminent people reflect on his many academic contributions to economics. He has been correctly described as the Keith Miller of economics (without all the affairs!).
I will also have to limit myself on praising and illustrating his many character virtues – generosity, fairness, open-mindedness, humility, etc. Let me just give one small example.
Since first meeting Geoff in Cambridge in the mid-1990s, I’ve marvelled at the way he always ensures everyone on a table or group is included, and the kind words he will use to introduce people. I can’t imagine the extent of the ripple effects from all the people he has brought together, as well as advised and mentored across the years. I’m reminded of a line from the famous final paragraph of George Eliot’s Middlemarch: “But the effect of her being on those around her was incalculably diffusive”.
I also have to thank Geoff for all the tales and amusing stories he has shared over the years. I impressed some book club members recently with my 2 degrees of separation from E. M. Forster, thanks to Geoff. I hope I will get to hear some more stories, before he starts moving into the repeats!
David Quick QC
You won’t remember me , but I remember you well and most fondly.
I started playing for the “Blacks” ( AUFC) in 1966, in the A1 Res side. My form was poor so I was relegated ( progressively ) to the A5 side which you captained.
I enjoyed playing under your captaincy and your personal encouragement to me resulted in a return of confidence and form .( I eventually captained the AUFC A2 Res side and later played at A Grade level for Semaphore Central FC and Willunga FC.) Your advice and example played a significant part in my improvement.
You are a legend in AUFC History and rightfully so. Your determination to keep fit was inspirational. Your conduct on field of play in matches was an example of true amateur sportsmanship; of playing the game as it ought be played, which many young men ( such as myself ) followed.
Please accept my best wishes for your future health and happiness.
Emeritus Professor Robert Rowthorn
University of Cambridge
I first met Geoff Harcourt in 1964 when I came to Cambridge as a Research Fellow at Churchill College. I was immediately impressed by his boundless enthusiasm and his generosity towards colleagues and students. He always had time to read the work of others and even in the most hopeless cases always had a word of encouragement. These were qualities which he continued to manifest throughout his long career in Cambridge and, I imagine, after his return to Australia. There must be literally thousands of economists in the world who are grateful for his support and look back fondly on their contact with him.
Geoff is a staunch Keynesian and he must be pleased to see that his views are now back in fashion. He is a mine of information on Keynes and the Cambridge Keynesians, and much of his writing is commentary on their work or shows their influence.
Over the years, I have had innumerable conversations with Geoff on political and economic issues. I was sad when he moved back to Australia. We have exchanged occasionally e-mails, but that is not the same as face to face contact.
I look forward to seeing Geoff in person in Australia when the present travel restrictions are lifted.
Geoff Whittington, Emeritus Professor
Life Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, University of Cambridge
For an aspiring economist in Cambridge in the early 1960’s, there could be no better role model than Geoff.
Above all, he had an enormously enquiring mind and a real passion for his subject.
He questioned accepted orthodoxies and judged issues by evidence and logic of argument, not fashionable beliefs or seniority of their proponents.
Hence, he was a fierce debater and no respecter of authority, although always magnanimous to opponents when the debate was over, reflecting the sporting tradition of fighting hard on the field of play but being happy to socialise with the opposition after the game.
He was also always very helpful to junior colleagues, offering constructive criticism to any who sought it.
He was a voracious reader of the economics literature (most obviously evidenced by his surveys of capital theory) but also thoroughly prepared for everything that he did, whether it was pure theory (growth models), applied theory (the accountant in a golden age) or even empirical work (the consequences of replacement cost accounting, based on his Cambridge Ph.D. thesis).
His reading and interests were much broader than formal economics. He appeared to have an opinion (but backed by knowledge) on almost everything, from contemporary literature to the state of the England cricket team.
Speaking of which, he seemed to play every sport imaginable (cricket, squash etc.) and some not imaginable (Aussie Rules football, which he is believed to have played into his late forties).
Above all, Geoff was extremely gregarious and was able to talk to virtually all members of a factionalised Economics Faculty. He was thus a unifying force: some people who refused to communicate directly with one another were able to communicate indirectly through Geoff.
He was also a rich source of gossip: some of it true!
Thus, he impressed us junior faculty members, but he also instructed and entertained. He taught us by example (without us noticing) to work hard, play hard and enjoy life.
It is therefore good to know that the old warrior has fought his way through 90 years.
Thank you Geoff!
Emeritus Professor Thomas Russell, Santa Clara University
Elizabeth and I have the fondest memory of your wonderful generosity during my Cambridge sabbatical in 2005. I particularly remember a wonderful dinner party hosted at your house by you and Joan where the irrepressible Dorothy Silberston gave us her take on another age defying legend Jane Fonda who had just been in Cambridge.
Raja Junankar has just told me that your health is not the best. We wish you all the best and many congratulations on this remarkable milestone.
Congratulations on reaching 90. I have very fond memories of you and your family when you first taught me and then taught with me at Adelaide University. Your academic achievements are justifiably well recognised but it is as a friend and very conscientious contributor to society at large that I admire you and Joan who was such a rock for you. You must also both be thrilled with the achievements of your family. With very warm affection Marg
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.
Professor Margaret Schabas, The University of British Columbia
Just to send a Hearty Congratulations to Geoff for his 90th Birthday, and best to all the family.
Professor Glenn Withers, Australian National University
Congrats on the 90th Geoff. It is a gold standard to which all we economists can aspire given your splendid example. There is much across those nine decades to appreciate, but let me say as a past President of the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia, how much I know that its Fellowship across all disciplines enjoyed your steadfast personal participation, interest, engagement and encouragement. Enjoy the day. With best wishes and much thanks. Glenn
Dr Margaret McKenzie, ACTU Economist
I first met Geoff at a conference many years ago where I knew no one and he approached me and we had a discussion about Marx in which we agreed that his greatest contribution was the contradiction. Geoff is so enthusiastic and excited by ideas. He listens to everyone in his modest and attentive way and is also very funny. In true style Geoff’s contribution cannot be quantified.
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!
Janmejay Singh , Practice Manager, Social Sustainability and Inclusion, East Asia Region, The World Bank
Here’s wishing you the happiest of birthdays!! What a milestone indeed!! You were by far the most influential professor I had during my time in Cambridge in the late ’90s and I can never forget how you would always move us away from the ‘squiggles’ that modern economists produced to the practical genius of the Keynesian and post-Keynesian economists of the past! Your humor, passion, and generosity towards your students is something I’ll always be grateful for – it has helped shaped my own endeavors in my professional life.
I wish you all the best of health, happiness, and peace as you prepare for the Century!!
Jimmy Singh (Jesus College, Class of 1999)