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The Harvard Economic Service and the Problems of Forecasting

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  • Walter A. Friedman
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    Abstract

    The Harvard Economic Service pioneered the business of economic forecasting by publishing a weekly newsletter on economic conditions, starting in 1922. The Harvard forecasting model, developed by the statistician and economist Warren Persons, gained international renown for its three-curve A-B-C chart, which rendered business fluctuations as the ebb and flow of speculation (A), business (B), and banking (C). The service was directed by C. J. Bullock, who promoted Harvard's forecasting service around the world by forming collaborative agreements with John Maynard Keynes, Lucien March, Corrado Gini, and other prominent economists of the time. The Harvard Economic Service, however, attracted criticism for its purely empirical approach, its failure to make consistently accurate predictions, and its pursuit of commercial objectives in a university setting. The Harvard group's efforts to build a forecasting service are an early chapter in the evolution of the social sciences, the growth of a class of financial analysts, and the commercialization of academic knowledge.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Duke University Press in its journal History of Political Economy.

    Volume (Year): 41 (2009)
    Issue (Month): 1 (Spring)
    Pages: 57-88

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    Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:41:y:2009:i:1:p:57-88

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    Postal: Duke University Press 905 W. Main Street, Suite 18B Durham, NC 27701
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    Related research

    Keywords: Warren Persons; Harvard Economic Service; John Maynard Keynes; Lucien March; Corrado Gini;

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    Cited by:
    1. Terence Mills & Kerry Patterson, 2013. "Modelling the Trend: The Historical Origins of Some Modern Methods and Ideas," Economics & Management Discussion Papers em-dp2013-03, Henley Business School, Reading University.
    2. Bernardo Bátiz-Lazo & Thomas Haigh & David L. Stearns, 2011. "How the Future Shaped the Past: The Case of the Cashless Society," Working Papers 11009, Bangor Business School, Prifysgol Bangor University (Cymru / Wales).
    3. repec:rdg:wpaper:em-dp2013-03 is not listed on IDEAS

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