Kaldor’s Footnote And Kaldor On Sraffa

The world is more Kaldorian than Keynesian. After the crisis, Keynes became popular again but his Cambridge descendent Nicholas Kaldor is hardly remembered by the economics community. Even his biographers have some memory loss of him.


Anthony Thirlwall and John E. King are biographers of Nicholas Kaldor. Superb books.

There’s a chapter Talking About Kaldor: An Interview With John King in Anthony Thirlwall’s book Essays on Keynesian and Kaldorian Economics. There’s an interesting discussion on money endogeneity (Google Books link):

J.E.K.  … I wonder if Kaldor would have gone as far as Moore in arguing that the money supply curve is horizontal.

Anthony Thirlwall replies saying he would have argued that the supply of money is elastic with respect to demand, instead of quoting him. Here’s Nicholas Kaldor stating explicitly in a footnote in Keynesian Economics After Fifty Years, in the book, Keynes And The Modern World, ed. George David Norman Worswick and James Anthony Trevithick, Cambridge University Press, 1983, on page 36:

Diagrammatically, the difference in the presentation of the supply and demand for money, is that in the original version, (with M exogenous) the supply of money is represented by a vertical line, in the new version by a horizontal line, or a set of horizontal lines, representing different stances of monetary policy

[italics: mine]

Anthony Thirlwall is one of the commenter in the book chapter. The book is proceedings of a conference on Keynes.

But that’s not enough. Turn to page 363 of the book.

A.P.T.  He had a very high regard for Sraffa but he never wrote on this topic.

J.E.K.  Not something that would really have concerned him very much? Too abstract and too removed from reality?

A.P.T.  Probably, yes. It is quite interesting that Sraffa was his closest friend, both personal and intellectual, and they used to meet very regularly – almost every day when Sraffa was alive. But there’s no evidence that they ever discussed Production of Commodities by Means of Commodities.

J.E.K.  That’s amazing. There’s certainly no evidence that he ever wrote anything on those questions.

A.P.T. There’s no evidence that he wrote anything, or that indeed he really understood Sraffa. Well, he had the broad thrust, but I don’t know that he ever read it carefully, or understood the implications.

In Volume 9, of Kaldor’s Collected Works, there are two memoirs. One of Piero Sraffa and the other on John von Neumann.


Nicholas Kaldor on Piero Sraffa

Interestingly the editors and F. Targetti (another biographer) and A.P. Thirlwall!

I guess if you know a person so closely – like the biographers do, of Kaldor- you tend to forget a few things about them.

Leave a Reply

Comments are welcome, but not published—see comments policy. Required fields are marked *