Essays in Honour of Charles Goodhart, Volume Two
Edited by Paul Mizen
Chapter 1: The role of the history of economic thought in modern macroeconomics
* David Laidler 1. INTRODUCTION I intend it as a compliment to say that I do not regard Charles Goodhart as a modern macroeconomist. From the very beginning of his career, with his 1962 PhD thesis on the activities of the New York money market at the beginning of the last century (Goodhart, 1969) until now, with his work on the Wicksellian nature of modern monetary systems (Goodhart, 2002), Charles’s economics has been informed by a deep understanding of the history of monetary institutions and policy, and of the economic ideas that have underlain that history. It might appear paradoxical that this very characteristic of his intellectual equipment, which to many would seem to have suited him only for a life in the ivory tower, has also made him an important and eﬀective policy advisor. But, as I hope to show, an approach of the type that Charles has always taken to economics is as productive and practical as it is unfashionable 2. THE STATUS OF THE HISTORY OF THOUGHT WITHIN ECONOMICS The title of a recent article by Mark Blaug (2001) succinctly and accurately describes the current status of the History of Economic Thought among economists: ‘No History of Ideas Please, We’re Economists’. One of the most distinguished of the younger generation of macroeconomists, Paul Romer, expresses the attitude that prompted Blaug’s title in the following way: ‘I guess I would describe ancestor worship as a research strategy as probably an unproductive one (laughter). But as a consumption activity...
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