Thursday, 20 May 2010

Wynne Godley, oboe, St Michael, and the Cambridge Growth Project catalogue

We were sad to learn of the death of Wynne Godley, Professor of Applied Economics and former director of the Dept of Applied Economics (DAE) who died last week at the age of 83. Described as "the most insightful macroeconomic forecaster of his generation", Wynne Godley continued to use the Marshall Library after his retirement in 1993, and was often in touch, especially when working on his book Monetary economics: an integrated approach to credit, money, income, production and wealth / Wynne Godley and Marc Lavoie published by Palgrave in 2007. After reading PPE at Oxford, Wynne Godley studied the oboe at the Paris Conservatoire and began his professional career as principal oboe with the Welsh Symphony orchestra before returning to economics. He subsequently worked at the Treasury and National Institute of Economic and Social Research before taking up the post at the DAE. He continued to play the oboe, sometimes practising in his faculty room before university concerts. He became well known for his opposition to economic policies of the Thatcherites, he once dismissed their policies as "a gigantic con trick", and was described as "Cassandra of the Fens" for his predictions, which came true, regarding the rise of unemployment in the 80s. He was married to Kitty Epstein, former wife of Lucien Freud and daughter of the sculptor Sir Jacob Epstein, and when Epstein was commissioned to produce a statue of St Michael for Coventry Cathedral, St Michael's Victory over the Devil (1958), he modelled it on Wynne Godley.

Cambridge Growth Project
Professor Wynne Godley's predecessor, Nobel Prize winner (1984) Professor Sir Richard Stone, was the initial leading force behind "The Cambridge Growth Project". Set up in 1960, and later directed by Dr Terry Barker, this large econometric research project developed a model of the British economy. It was used to forecast economic growth of the British economy in the 1970's and was later used for regional and environmental modelling and forecasting. Its archive, comprising 56 archive boxes, is housed at the Marshall Library , and we recently scanned the "growth project" catalogue making it available on the web through the Marshall Library web site.