Roy Harrod: la dinamica del Trade Cycle e la Teoria Generale

[Roy Harrod, the dynamics of The Trade Cycle, and the General Theory]

Storia del Pensiero Economico Moderno, first part in issue XIII: 1-2, 1993, pp. 57-74; second part in issue XIV: 3-4, Luglio-Dicembre 1994, pp. 51-69.


This paper discusses Harrod's interpretation of Keynes's General Theory and its influence on the development of Harrod's dynamics. First the 1935 Harrod-Keynes correspondence on the galley proofs of the General Theory is considered. The first aim of this paper is to shown that Harrod develops his peculiar definition of statics and dynamics as a reply to Keynes's criticism to the classical theory of interest.

Second, a 1937 essay of Harrod on "Keynes and Traditional Theory" is examined. There, Harrod argues that Keynes's book does not truly revolutionize economics, but only rearranges the pieces traditional theory had already considered, filling some gaps here and there and modifying the logical connections among variables. The second purpose of this paper is to show how these same pieces appear, although in a somewhat changed form, in Harrod's 1936 book on The Trade Cycle, and thus that his interpretation of the General Theory is more a self-review of his own book.

The upshot of this discussion is that, far from being a development and dynamization of the General Theory, as it is usually interpreted, Harrod's analysis is more a generalization of traditional theory, aimed at providing for the orthodox analytical instruments a wider domain of application.