Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 70: Ralph George Hawtrey (1879–1975)
Although he was neither banker nor politician, neither academic nor university professor, Ralph George Hawtrey (1879–1975) was an influential British monetary economist during the interwar period. According to Schumpeter (1954: 1121): “Throughout the twenties . . . [his theory] enjoyed a considerable vogue”. Hawtrey joined the British administration when he was 24 years of age, in 1903, then moved to the Treasury in 1904, where he was appointed Director of Financial Enquiries from 1919 until his retirement in 1947. He played a leading role in the 1921 Genoa Conference and was invited to Harvard for the 1928–29 academic year, on Allyn Abbott Young’s initiative. He was seen as a representative of the so-called Treasury View concerning a return to the gold standard with an exchange rate at the level of pre-war parity and the denial that public expenditure could resolve unemployment. Nevertheless, Keynes (1937: 202) regarded him as his “grandparent . . . in the paths of errancy”. His approach was unorthodox. Hawtrey studied mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, from which he graduated in 1901. He was a member of the Apostles and the Bloomsbury group, and was close to George Edward Moore (see Donnini Macciò 2015). He first studied economics when applying for a Civil Service position. He then devoted most of his time to economics. However, he continued to regularly attend the Apostles’ meetings. He was working on two books on philosophy – Right Policy: the Place of Value Judgments in Politics and Thoughts and Things – when he died at the age of...
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