James Tobin

(1918-2002)

By Thomas Palley

James Tobin was a leading - perhaps the leading - American neo-Keynesian macroeconomist in the era of Keynesian dominance after World War II that extended through to the early 1970s. Along with growth theorist Robert Solow and micro and trade theorist Paul Samuelson, the three substantially shaped what became known as the neoclassical synthesis which fused neoclassical microeconomic theory, Keynesian macro theory, and neoclassical growth theory. The macroeconomic component of the neoclassical synthesis is termed neo-Keynesianism. All three received the Royal Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Science in Memory of Alfred Nobel, with Tobin winning his prize in 1981. Tobin died in 2002, aged 84.

Robert Dimand (2014) has written a short book, which is part of The Great Thinkers in Economics series edited by Tony Thirlwall, on Tobin’s economics. For purposes of truth in advertising, it should be noted that Dimand was a student of Tobin’s at Yale University and wrote his dissertation under Tobin’s supervision. Like so many students who studied under Tobin, Dimand clearly has an abiding deep respect and admiration for Tobin, as does this reviewer.

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