Tag Archives: francis cripps

Francis Cripps And Marc Lavoie’s Short Biography Of Wynne Godley

There’s a new bookThe Palgrave Companion To Cambridge Economics which features among other things biographies of Wynne Godley, Joan Robinson and Nicholas Kaldor and other notable Cambridge economists. Wynne Godley’s biography—Wynne Godley (1926-2010)—is by his closest collaborators – Francis Cripps and Marc Lavoie (pp. 929-953)

You can access the book on Springer, if you have subscription or preview it on Google Books.


One interpretation of Godley’s theoretical work is that it is a quest for the Holy Grail of Keynesianism. Keynesians of all stripes had for a long time mentioned the need to integrate the real and the monetary sides of economics. Integration was all the talk, but for a long time, little seemed to be achieved … The main purpose of the Godley and Cripps’s 1983 book is to amalgamate the real and the financial sides, providing a theory of real output in a monetary economy …

Godley believed that Keynesian orthodoxy ‘did not properly incorporate money and other financial variables’ (ibid.: 15). Godley and Cripps and their colleagues ‘found quite early on that there was indeed something deficient in most macroeconomic models of the time’, including their own, ‘in that they tended to ignore constraints which adjustments of money and other financial assets impose on the economic system as a whole’ (ibid.: 16). Interestingly, Godley was aware of the work being carried out at about the same time by Tobin and his Yale colleagues, as well as by others such as Buiter, Christ, Ott and Ott, Turnovsky, and Blinder and Solow, who emphasized, as Godley and Cripps (ibid.: 18) did, that ‘money stocks and flows must satisfy accounting identities in individual budgets and in an economy as a whole’. Still, Godley thought that the analysis of the authors in this tradition was overly complicated, in particular because they assumed some given stock or growth rate of money, ‘leaving an endogenous rate of interest to reconcile’ this stock of money with the fiscal stance (Godley 1983: 137). Godley and Cripps (ibid.: 15) were also annoyed by several of the behavioural hypotheses found in the work of these more orthodox Keynesians, as they ‘could only give vague and complicated answers to simple questions like how money is created and what functions it fulfils’. The Cambridge authors thus wanted to start from scratch, with their own way of integrating the real and the financial sides, thus avoiding these ‘tormented replies’ (ibid.) …

Ultimately, Godley’s desire to present a definitive treatise based on consistent macroeconomic accounting gave rise, nearly 25 years later, to the Monetary Economics book (Godley and Lavoie 2007a) …

The World Balance Of Payments Constraint: Nicholas Kaldor Explaining The Way The World Works

Thirlwall’s Law is counter-intuitive and comes across as shocking. It says that the growth of a nation’s economy is directly proportional to the rate of exports and inversely related to the income elasticity of imports.

The reason it comes as shocking and difficult to believe is that our planet, with all inhabitants and institutions considered resident cannot export (unless there are non-residents such as aliens), but the world still grows.

Now there are several pitfalls in this argument. First, Thirlwall’s law doesn’t fail because the expression for growth rate is indeterminate. Rate of exports is indeterminate and the income elasticity of imports is indeterminate.

So we have

growth = inderminate/indeterminate

Second, the world does not have a central government. So the world as a whole is not comparable to a closed economy with a government.

There is a way in which the world as a whole is balance-of-payments constrained. The argument is by Nicholas Kaldor. In his 1980 article Foundations And Implications Of Free Trade Theory, written in Unemployment In Western Countries – Proceedings Of A Conference Held By The International Economics Association. At Bischenberg, France, Kaldor makes the argument for the world balance-of-payments constraint.

Nicholas Kaldor On Free Trade

Nicholas Kaldor on free trade

In a recent article on the ‘Causes of Growth and Recession in World Trade’,1 T. F. Cripps has demonstrated that a country is not ‘balance of payments constrained’ if its full employment imports, M*, are less that its import capacity M̅ (as determined by its earning from exports). Such a country is free to choose the level of domestic demand which it considers optimal for its own circumstances,2 whereas the other countries from whom M* > M̅, must, under conditions of free trade, reduce their output and employment below the full employment level, and import only what they can afford to finance. He then shows that the sum of imports of the ‘unconstrained’ countries determine the attainable level of production and employment of the ‘constrained’ countries, and the remedy for this situation requires measures that increase the level of ‘full-employment’ imports or else reduce the export share of the ‘unconstrained countries’. The ‘rules of the game’ which would be capable of securing growth and stability in international trade, and of restoring the production of the ‘constrained’ countries to full employment levels, may require discriminatory measure of import control, of the type envisaged in the famous ‘scarce currency clause’ of the Bretton Woods agreement.

In the absence of such measures all countries may suffer a slower rate of growth and a lower level of output and employment, and not only the group of countries whose economic activity is ‘balance-of-payments constrained’. This is because the ‘surplus’ countries’ own exports will be lower with the shrinkage of world trade, and they may not offset this (or not adequately) by domestic reflationary measures so that their imports will also be lower. Provided that the import regulations introduced relate to import propensities (i.e. to the relation of imports to domestic output) and not to the absolute level of imports as such, the very fact that such measures will raise the trade, production and employment of the ‘constrained’ countries will mean that the volume of exports and domestic income of the ‘unconstrained’ countries will also be greater, despite the downward change in their share of world exports.3


1Cambridge Economic Policy Review (March 1978), pp, 37-43.

2Owing to the widespread view according to which a given increase in effective demand is more ‘inflationary’ in its consequences if brought about by budgetary measure than if it is the result of additional investment or exports (irrespective of any limitations of import capacity) the inequality or potential inequality in its payments balance may cause a surplus country to regard a lower level of domestic demand as ‘optimal’ in the first case than in the second case.

3In other words, if countries whose ‘full employment’ balance of payments shows a surplus because M* < α W (where M* is the level of full employment imports, α is the share of a particular country’s exports of in world trade W) after a reduction of α to α̂ (α̂ < α) through the imposition of discriminatory measures, the country will still be better off if α̂ W* > α W where W* is the volume of world trade generated under full employment conditions.

[boldening mine]

What Kaldor is saying that because of balance of payments constraint of economies, the world as a whole has a slower growth because surplus nations do not expand domestic demand to the level needed. He is also saying that import controls raise imports rather than reduce them (this because of higher national income) and the exporters’ exports will also increase (even though their share is reducing.).

So the world as an built-in deflationary bias in the way it works.


The UN Global Policy Model

I came across the UN Global Policy Model document with lots of equations and written by Francis Cripps and Alex Izurieta. (h/t Jo Michell). The article date is May 2014.

Just thought I should link it for readers interested.

(The post title is the link).

UNCTAD On Economic Dynamics

From United Nations’ Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD)’s 2015 report, page 44:

… exposure to unregulated and large financial flows alters macroeconomic developments in ways that can lead to a slowdown of GDP growth as well as unstable internal dynamics marked by sudden shifts of income and wealth between the main sectors (private, public and external). A convenient way to map these shifts and their relationship with economic growth is by using the “demand stances” framework (see Godley and Cripps, 1983; Godley and McCarthy, 1998; and Taylor, 2001 and 2006). This framework reasserts the Keynesian principle that sustained growth requires continuously increasing injections (which, in simple macroeconomic terms, include private investment, government expenditure and exports) into the flow of income. These injections, in turn, require a steady growth of leakages (measured by the propensity to save, the tax rate and the import propensity), which over time ensure financial stability, as credit rises along the circular flow of income. Thus GDP growth can be explained as the growth, along stable norms, of injections relative to leakages; these eventually determine financial transfers between the main sectors. Such ratios of injections to leakages are termed stances and provide a measure both of demand drivers and financial balances.


In mathematical terms, the main accounting identity defines GDP as the sum of consumption (C), private investment (I), government expenditure (G) and exports(X) minus imports(M). Simple assumptions allow specifying the tax rate (t) and the savings and import propensities, s and m respectively, as: T = t · GDP; S = s · GDP; M = m · GDP, where T stands for total tax revenue and S for private savings. Arrangements of these equations around the accounting identity yield the expression: GDP = (G + I + X)/(t + s + m), or alternatively: GDP = wt · (G/t) + ws · (I/s) + wm · (X/m) where wt , ws and wm are the weights of each of  the leakages (tax, savings and import propensities, respectively). This equation establishes that growth of GDP depends on the growth of the three variables, G/t, I/s and X/m; defined as fiscal stance, private stance and external sector stance, respectively, amplified by the strength of the respective multipliers, given the mentioned weights, in the macroeconomic context. To avoid complicating the presentation with derivation of the steady state conditions, it is sufficient to note that these stances reflect financial conditions as well, where a larger numerator than the denominator points towards a net borrowing position. Thus, a steady path of sustained growth and financial stability requires that none of these stances grow at a proportionally faster pace than the others for a prolonged period of time.


NYT On Wynne Godley

There’s a nice new article on Wynne Godley today in The New York Times.

An interesting thing in the article is the mention of intuition via models while mentioning his book Monetary Economics.

Why does a model matter? It explicitly details an economist’s thinking, Dr. Bezemer says. Other economists can use it. They cannot so easily clone intuition.

That is so right. The models in the books of Wynne Godley – both Monetary Economics with Marc Lavoie and Macroeconomics with Francis Cripps give a good idea about the authors’ intuitions. Of course, needless to say the man was bigger than his models.

Wynne Godley - NYT

“It’s remarks like that which explain why people hate economists!”

A lot of heterodox economists are sympathetic to Paul Krugman because he seems to have argued for fiscal expansion.


First, we are in this mess because of people like Paul Krugman who has promoted free trade – which has been destructive to the world economy as a whole and has prevented debtor nations from engaging in fiscal expansion to reflate their economies. The creditor nations won’t reflate their economies by fiscal expansion so easily – just barely the minimal needed to prevent social tensions from building up – because they don’t want to become debtors down the road. They overdo this but free trade has created this situation in the first place.

This crisis has made nations realize the importance of exports in growth and nations will want to improve their international investment position should there be growth in the rest of the world and they will want to wait sufficiently for exports to improve before expanding domestic demand. This creates a game theory like problem for growth of the world as a whole.

Now, Krugman is a smart man. He will make it look as if he was not all that dogmatic. And now ridicules everyone who opposes fiscal expansion. While it is good in a sense because the world needs a worldwide fiscal expansion (but this needs to be coordinated at least), it is nowhere close to the simplistic solutions Krugman presents with his comical IS/LM diagrams and liquidity trap theories and confusions with his notions of exogenous money – which is only a smart way of defending his earlier positions – even though we hear frequent Mea Culpas on his blog.

I came across this article by William Greider – Why Paul Krugman Is So Wrong in which he reminds the readers of how the mania of free trade has been promoted by Paul Krugman and how he has ridiculed everyone showing dissent.

It is generally nice in parts and is worth reading. I like the part in which Greider says that even though free trade has created problems for the United States, it wants to get out of the problems by promoting more free trade!

I am also reminded of a sacred tenet article of Paul Krugman making the case for free trade. The article titled Ricardo’s Difficult Idea not only ridicules anyone arguing against free trade but also gives out strategies on how to promote it.

Here is one paragraph which is worth quoting:

During the NAFTA debates I shared a podium with an experienced, highly regarded U.S. trade negotiator, a strong NAFTA suppporter [sic]. At one point a member of the audience asked me what I thought the effect of NAFTA would be on the number of jobs in the United States; when I replied “none”, based on the standard arguments, the trade official exploded in anger: “It’s remarks like that which explain why people hate economists!”

I like this quote by Francis Cripps from an article in The Guardian from 27 Feb 1979: Economists With A Mission:

Francis Cripps - If Economists Did Not Exist

Origins Of The Sectoral Balances Identity

I thought I should share what I found recently about who was to state the sectoral balances identity first – since it comes across as enlightening to say the least. I found the identity in Nicholas Kaldor’s 1944 article Quantitative Aspects Of The Full Employment Problem In Britain. It was published as Appendix C to Full Employment In A Free Society by William Beveridge.

(If you find the mention of this identity anywhere before, please let me know!)

Here’s a Google Books screenshot of the page:

The article also appears in Kaldor’s Collected Essays, Vol 3 (Chapter 2, pp. 23-82).

The ‘net’ is net of consumption of fixed capital. Also ‘balance of payments’ is used for the current balance (footnote 1, page 28). (In The Scourge Of Monetarism, Kaldor used ‘net saving’ as saving net of investment).

Anthony Thirlwall wrote a biography of Kaldor in 1987 and he mentions that Kaldor kept pushing the implications of the identity in the 1960s (page 251). He managed to convinced some of his colleagues such as Wynne Godley and Francis Cripps and pick up public fights with others such as Richard Kahn.

Wynne Godley recalled how he came to appreciate this identity in his book Monetary Economics with Marc Lavoie. In Background Memories (W.G.) he wrote:

… In 1970 I moved to Cambridge, where, with Francis Cripps, I founded the Cambridge Economic Policy Group (CEPG). I remember a damascene moment when, in early 1974 (after playing round with concepts devised in conversation with Nicky Kaldor and Robert Neild), I first apprehended the strategic importance of the accounting identity which says that, measured at current prices, the government’s budget deficit less the current account deficit is equal, by definition, to private saving net of investment. Having always thought of the balance of trade as something which could only be analysed in terms of income and price elasticities together with real output movements at home and abroad, it came as a shock to discover that if only one knows what the budget deficit and private net saving are, it follows from that information alone, without any qualification whatever, exactly what the balance of payments must be. Francis Cripps and I set out the significance of this identity as a logical framework both for modelling the economy and for the formulation of policy in the London and Cambridge Economic Bulletin in January 1974 (Godley and Cripps 1974). We correctly predicted that the Heath Barber boom would go bust later in the year at a time when the National Institute was in full support of government policy and the London Business School (i.e. Jim Ball and Terry Burns) were conditionally recommending further reflation! We also predicted that inflation could exceed 20% if the unfortunate threshold (wage indexation) scheme really got going interactively. This was important because it was later claimed that inflation (which eventually reached 26%) was the consequence of the previous rise in the ‘money supply’, while others put it down to the rising pressure of demand the previous year …

More On Wynne Godley’s Methodology

Matias Vernengo has a post on Stock-Flow Consistent Macroeconomics: Stock-Flow With Consistent Accounting (SFCA) Models.

He has a nice way of giving a short description of pricing in the G&L models:

In my view, the stock-flow and the demand driven (and I should say, the fact that price dynamics is orthogonal to the income flow determination structure) is the essential characteristic of this approach.

Also, Simon Wren-Lewis (from Oxford) has a new blog post on the sectoral balances approach – Sector Financial Balances As A Diagnostic Check, where he mentions Martin Wolf’s recent post on Wynne Godley’s approach. He (Wren-Lewis) has been admitting recently that DSGE models are not useful.

In the comments section Simon Wren-Lewis has this to say:

Martin Wolf sent me the following comment, which I am sure others will also find interesting:

“I used sectoral financial balances before the crisis, following Wynne. I argued that what was going on in the US external and household sectors were evidently unsustainable. This allowed me to argue that when the latter’s deficits were eliminated, there would be a recession and a huge fiscal deficit. What I had not expected was that the turnaround in the household sector would trigger a meltdown of the financial system.

“This makes it clear that one has to link the flow sectoral balances to the balance sheets in the economy. In this case, my mistake was not looking closely enough at the balance sheet of the financial sector. Good macroeconomic analysis has to examine the flows and stock meticulously and seek to assess whether the behaviour we see is sustainable. The assumption that private agents cannot make huge mistakes about the sustainability of what they are doing is, in my view, the biggest mistake in macroeconomics.”

Back to DSGE models. I think they are totally useless. I like this quote by Francis Cripps from an article in The Guardian from 27 Feb 1979: Economists With A Mission:

Recommended Readings

The crisis has a lot of connections with the way Macroeconomics was done in the 1970s and this interests me a lot. Of course the equally important reason was that Nicholas Kaldor and Wynne Godley were highly involved in the public discussions. Here are some books I collected which have special importance to the Cambridge Economic Policy Group (CEPG):

I could manage to only get used copies of the first two books.

The book has the paper New Cambridge Macroeconomics And Global Monetarism – Some Issues In The Conduct Of U.K. Economic Policy, by Martin Fetherston and Wynne Godley and comments by others such as Alan Blinder – which I mentioned in the post Debt Monetization. The book is also available from Wiley but you have to pay $500+ for it!

This one got the title right – it wasn’t Keynesianism versus Monetarism. It was New Cambridge versus Keynesianism versus Monetarism.

The following book by Peter Kenway was first published in 1994 but was republished recently because the crisis has deep roots with debates in the 1970s!

It has nice discussions about the various types of income/expenditure models of the 1970s in the UK with a lot on the CEPG. It gives nice lists of all models – some of them here (via amazon.com preview):

Here’s a short autobiography by Wynne Godley (written around 1999) on how he dissented from the profession. Here’s a Google Books preview from the book A Biographical Dictionary of Dissenting Economists edited by Philip Arestis and Malcolm C. Sawyer

I like this:

 … I had extraordinary difficulty in understanding, not the sentences, but what real life state of affairs mainstream ‘neoclassical’ macroeconomics could possibly be held to be describing. I went through the standard textbooks on macroeconomics and then back to the underlying professional literature (the locus classicus being, as I now see it, Modigliani. 1944 and 1963). I taught myself how to draw the diagrams and solve the equation systems, but for years could not make any connection between these and the real world as I knew it…

One of the things which made Godley dissenting was the proposal to control imports as the paper title suggests:

(click for link to the journal)

This was met with huge hostility as a Times article (from the late 70s) shows. Economists confused it as “selective protectionism”:

(click to enlarge and click again)

G&L’s Monetary Economics – Second Edition

I got my copy of Monetary Economics by Wynne Godley and Marc Lavoie yesterday. I know some people were waiting for the second edition of the book, and had postponed their purchase to get the newer edition – so they can get it now!

There aren’t any changes in this edition – except for correction of some typos and that this edition is a paperback while the first one was hardcover. I already knew this as Marc Lavoie told me “don’t buy it” – but of course how can I not!

One thing I noticed is a nice summary by Wynne Godley which he wrote after the first edition was published.

Here’s an autograph from Marc Lavoie I got last year in May – live to tell!

I hope I live up to it 🙂

The first time I saw something called the Transactions Flow Matrix in a Levy Institute paper, I rushed to buy the book. When I started reading it, it became clear that nobody has ever come close to it! After a while – and solving the models on a computer gives one greater intuition – it slowly started becoming clear to me why so much effort has been put in.

Wynne Godley always wanted to write a textbook to help others understand Cambridge Keynesianism, as he often thought that while top economists from Cambridge knew how economies work together, they never attempted to share this knowledge. I think his aim was also to sharpen his own knowledge and to think of scenarios which one may not be able to foresee using simple arguments.

With this aim, he made a first attempt with his partner at “New Cambridge”, Francis Cripps.

I really like this from the book’s introduction:

… Our objective is most emphatically a practical one. To put it crudely, economics has got into an infernal muddle. This would be deplorable enough if the disorder was simply an academic matter. Unfortunately the confusion extends into the formation of economic policy itself. It has become pretty obvious that the governments of many countries, whatever their moral or political priorities, have no valid scientific rationale for their policies. Despite emphatic rhetoric they do know what the consequences of their actions are going to be. Moreover, in a highly interdependent world system this confusion extends to the dealings of governments with one another who now have no rational basis for negotiation.

This was a great book but didn’t receive much attention except for a small group who thought (rightly!) it was a work of genius. He wanted to do more and so we see him mention in an article on him – praising his prescience on writing the fate of the British economy on the wall in the 70s and the 80s. Here’s from the Guardian:

… What I’m doing is abolishing economics as currently understood, conducting an enormous sanitary operation upon a very clogged profession. I’m going to push a dose of salts through that system. It is a ruthless application of logic and accountancy to macroeconomics.

(click to enlarge and click again)

When Wynne Godley lost the partnership of Francis Cripps (whom Wynne called the smartest Economist he ever met), he was forced to do a lot of things himself and probably felt somewhat alone. After writing some amazing papers in the 1990s, he needed someone like Cripps to write a book. Fortunately he met Marc Lavoie and they collabrated for many years in writing papers and articles and finally the book.

Marc Lavoie recalls the memories in this article from the Godley conference last year.

In an article A Foxy Hedgehog: Wynne Godley And Macroeconomic Modelling – reviewing the book and Wynne Godley’s models, Lance Taylor says:

The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.

… Surely someone who puts so much effort into one complicated construct is more like Plato than Aristotle, Einstein than Feynman, Proust than Joyce.