Thursday, January 31, 2013

Frank Hahn: 1925 - 2013

Frank Hahn, an old Keynesian that had written a book with Solow, passed away this week. He also signed a famous letter (co-signed by 364 economists) against the austerity policies of Margaret Thatcher in 1981 (other Cambridge signatories were Cripps, Deane, Eatwell, Godley, Kahn, Kaldor, Meade, Moogridge, and Austin and Joan Robinson).

He is best known for his contributions to General Equilibrium (in particular his famous book with Kenneth Arrow), and by heterodox economists for his misguided reply to Sraffians in his "The Neo-Ricardians." After retiring from Cambridge he taught at the University of Siena in Italy.

PS: I know, it's kind of funny that Mr. Booth thinks that those that criticized austerity were wrong, particularly after the recent British experience.

6 comments:

  1. You should respond to his criticism of he Sraffians.

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    1. It was done by Garegnani, among others. One important thing he noted was that, even in intertemporal general equilibrium with heterogenous means of production, one still needs to bring investment to equilibrium with full employment savings, so that the capital debates do apply to Arrow-Debreu GE too.

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  2. Hahn forces Sraffa's model into a ultra-short period model of intertemporal equilibrium. Sraffa's model fits better into a long period setting.

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    1. Exactly. Hahn's approach would have been unrecognizeable to old marginalist. Short term equilibrium not guided by long term positions.

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  3. Matías,
    I think it is not very accurate to put Hahn among the Keynesians-no matter he signed
    the letter against Thatcher policies and his PH thesis in a Kaldorian mood- because he is the main responsible to make Cambridge University a quite neoclassical place where there is no room for Keynes.
    More over, according to Harcourt, he was a kind of “intellectual bulish”, especially with sraffians-who he called neo-ricardians.
    Regards

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    1. Hi Antonio. I think he was clearly a neoclassical synthesis Keynesian, as his book with Solow shows, or his previous work with Matthews. I think he certainly was responsible for the changes in Cambridge, as well as other heterodox authors. Note that Rowthorn too referred to Sraffians as Neo-Ricardians by 1974.

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