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Harrod, Kaldor, and the Idea of the "Foreign Trade Multiplier” - Harrod, Kaldor e l’idea dell’esistenza di un “moltiplicatore del commercio estero”


  • Soro, Bruno

    () (Università degli Studi di Genova, Facoltà di Giurisprudenza)


Many authors, inspired by the so-called ‘post-Keynesian’ theories, focused their attention on the idea of the ‘Harrod’s foreign trade multiplier’ which is different from the traditional open market Keynesian multiplier. This idea, re-discovered by Nicholas Kaldor, is a topical subject in the current debate on the so-called Thirlwall’s Law, that he considered as the ‘dynamic’ version of that multiplier. In the light of the different editions of International Economics and of the precious papers collected in the recent publication of the Collected Interwar Papers and Correspondence of Roy Harrod edited by Daniele Besomi, we notice how Harrod kept his distance from that idea: after a long discussion with Kahn, Robertson, Meade and Keynes, he denied the existence of an automatic mechanism to adjust the balance of payments, as maintained in the Kaldorian tradition. - L’idea dell’esistenza di un “moltiplicatore del commercio estero di Harrod” distinto dal tradizionale moltiplicatore keynesiano di mercato aperto è da tempo oggetto di attenzione da parte di numerosi autori che si ispirano al filone di pensiero cosiddetto “post-keynesiano”. Riscoperta da Nicholas Kaldor, quell’idea è tornata di attualità nell’ambito del dibattito sulla cosiddetta “legge di Thirlwall”, che il suo stesso ideatore considera la versione “dinamica” del “moltiplicatore del commercio estero di Harrod”. Alla luce delle varie edizioni di International Economics e della preziosa documentazione contenuta nella recente edizione dei Collected Interwar Papers and Correspondence of Roy Harrod (CIPC) curata da Daniele Besomi, emerge chiaramente come, alla fine di una lunga discussione che ha visto impegnati Kahn, Robertson, Meade e lo stesso Keynes, diversamente da quanto si sostiene nella tradizione kaldoriana, Harrod abbia preso le distanze dalla sua idea originaria.

Suggested Citation

  • Soro, Bruno, 2012. "Harrod, Kaldor, and the Idea of the "Foreign Trade Multiplier” - Harrod, Kaldor e l’idea dell’esistenza di un “moltiplicatore del commercio estero”," Economia Internazionale / International Economics, Camera di Commercio Industria Artigianato Agricoltura di Genova, vol. 65(1), pages 173-187.
  • Handle: RePEc:ris:ecoint:0644

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. A. P. Thirlwall, 1983. "A Plain Man’s Guide to Kaldor’s Growth Laws," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 345-358, March.
    2. Anthony P. Thirlwall, 2011. "Balance of payments constrained growth models: history and overview," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 64(259), pages 307-351.
    3. Daniele Besomi, 2000. "On the Spread of an Idea: The Strange Case of Mr. Harrod and the Multiplier," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 32(2), pages 347-380, Summer.
    4. Boyer, Robert & Petit, Pascal, 1989. "Kaldor's growth theories : past, present and prospects," CEPREMAP Working Papers (Couverture Orange) 8905, CEPREMAP.
    5. Daniele Besomi, 1997. "Statics and dynamics in harrod's trade cycle," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 9(2), pages 181-209.
    6. Phelps Brown, Henry, 1980. "Sir Roy Harrod: A Biographical Memoir," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 90(357), pages 1-33, March.
    7. Anthony P. Thirlwall, 2011. "The Balance of Payments Constraint as an Explanation of International Growth Rate Differences," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 64(259), pages 429-438.
    8. Dixon, R & Thirlwall, A P, 1975. "A Model of Regional Growth-Rate Differences on Kaldorian Lines," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 27(2), pages 201-214, July.
    9. Boggio, Luciano, 1996. "Growth and international competitiveness in a 'Kaldorian' perspective," Structural Change and Economic Dynamics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 299-320, September.
    10. Robert W. Dimand, 2000. "Hawtrey on the Keynesian Multiplier: A Response to Ahiakpor," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 32(4), pages 909-914, Winter.
    11. A. P. Thirlwall, 1995. "The Economics Of Growth And Development," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 424.
    12. A. P. Thirlwall, 1982. "The Harrod Trade Multiplier And The Importance Of Export-Led Growth," Pakistan Journal of Applied Economics, Applied Economics Research Centre, vol. 1(1), pages 1-21.
    13. A.P. Thirlwall, 1974. "Regional Economic Disparities and Regional Policy in the Common Market," Urban Studies, Urban Studies Journal Limited, vol. 11(1), pages 1-12, February.
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    More about this item


    Harrod; Kaldor; Growth Theories; Foreign Trade Multiplier;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • B20 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - General
    • F40 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - General


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