I am doing some work today on the ideas of Nobel prizewinner Robert Fogel (more on this later). Taking a look at his Nobel page I have just realised that he got the prize jointly with Douglas North, someone about whose work I am woefully ignorant. In Fogel's Nobel biography I found this:
"I began my graduate training with the naive belief that by combining the study of history and economics I would quickly discover the fundamental forces that had determined technological and institutional changes over the ages and that such knowledge would point to solutions to the current problems of economic instability and inequity. As I became aware of how little was actually known about these large processes and their interconnections, I began to focus on more discrete issues:"
Well I have to say that I share his initial belief, and I don't regard it as especially naive. Also I personally am still amazed by how little we really do seem to actually known about the large processes and their interconnections he mentions, but maybe that's just me :)
Further down the speech I also find:
"Simon Kuznets, who supervised my doctoral dissertation, was by far the most influential figure in my graduate training. Soft spoken and of moderate stature, one did not have to be in his class very long to discover that he was a towering intellect, erudite not only in economics, but also in history, demography, statistics, and the natural sciences. His course in economic growth covered the history of technological change during the modern era, demography and population theory, and the use of national income aggregates for the comparative study of economic growth and of the size distribution of income".
It's funny, Simon Kuznets also gave his name to an important sub-cycle of the US business cycle - the Kuznets cycle - yet no-one seems to have heard of it these days. Which is funny, since the Kuznets cycle idea could go a long way to help understand why current US growth is so resilient.
Of course Fogel's Nobel Acceptance Lecture was entitled: ECONOMIC GROWTH, POPULATION THEORY, AND PHYSIOLOGY: THE BEARING OF LONG-TERM PROCESSES ON THE MAKING OF ECONOMIC POLICY
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