Sunday, March 11, 2018

Basil Moore (1933-2018)

Basil Moore

I first met Basil in 2000 or 2001, which was quite late, since I've read his work as an undergraduate back in the late 1980s. I was Assistant Director of the Center for Economic Policy Analysis (CEPA, now the Schwartz Center) at the New  School, and we invited him for a talk, which was about his forthcoming (at that time) book Shaking the Invisible Hand: Complexity, Endogenous Money and Exogenous Interest Rates  which was published considerably later (my review here).

Basil came down from Wesleyan, were he was for most of his career before retiring to South Africa, and we had an interesting debate on the relevance of the Keynesian (not the monetary one, on that we agreed) multiplier, which he considered a mistake, and on dollarization, which, at least at the time, he favored. The biggest surprise in my conversations with him that day and after that was what seemed to be a lack of understanding of how much the mainstream had incorporated the notion of endogenous money, in Wicksellian fashion. And I should note that the mainstream has not acknowledged the relevance of Post Keynesians, like Basil, in pushing them into the endogenous money camp.

My debates with him showed how much Post Keynesians could disagree both on theoretical and policy issues, and dispelled any notion that this was a group with monolithic or closed views on economic issues. In fact, it suggests that Posties should be seen more as a collection of schools, that depart from some aspects of marginalism/neoclassical economics.

Basil's contributions were essentially associated to the notion of endogenous money, more in line with the Kaldorian tradition, in which central banks accommodate to money demand, than to the Minskian notion of financial innovation. He was, together with Paul Davidson, Alfred Eichner, Hyman Minsky and Sidney Weintraub a key founding member of the American Post Keynesian School, perhaps less recognized than the others, and being the most focused on a particular topic. I'm sure that many obituaries will discuss his contributions in depth. At any rate, a loss for the profession, and for those of us that enjoyed his pluralistic openness to alternative views.

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