Chapter 19: Harrod's Dynamics in the Making
19. Harrod’s dynamics in the making Daniele Besomi* Traditional treatments and traditional solutions are being questioned, improved, and revised. In the end this activity of research should clear up controversy. But for the moment controversy and doubt are increased (Keynes, 1928). Economics with its ‘schools’ is still in the phase of quasi-scholastic, in which rivals can persist in their rivalry and mutual invective (Harrod to Knight, 7 July 1937 in Harrod, 2003, vol. 2, p. 708). When I was invited to give the Blanqui lecture it was understood that the topic would be centred around my book, The Making of Harrod’s Dynamics (Besomi, 1999b). Although I hope to be able to convey its essential thesis, I would also like to spend some time in describing what lay behind the book, and to give you further reﬂections generated by my recent work beyond that research. I begin from the beginning of the story. My research interest has always been the history of ‘formal’ economic dynamics.1 I was ﬁrst struck by the singularity of Harrod’s notion of dynamics when comparing it with other deﬁnitions collected in Machlup’s essay on the semantics of statics and dynamics (Machlup, 1963). While most authors from the early 1930s onwards had adopted the deﬁnition of dynamics proposed by Ragnar Frisch, according to which a theory is dynamics if it explains, by means of functional equations, ‘how one situation grows out of the foregoing’ (Frisch, 1933, 1936), there seemed to be two major exceptions: Hicks,...
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