"Depressions are not the result of the operation of the market. They are the result of government controls, particularly in the sphere of monetary policy".Professor F.A.Hayek,Nobel Prize winner in Economics."It is because I want to make economics more human that I want to make it more time conscious." Professor Sir John Hicks, Nobel Prize winner in Economics."The most important challenge facing the world economy is the need to strengthen the adjustment mechanism between the growth of supply and demand for primary products".Professor N.Kaldor, Cambridge University."Many people in the Soviet Union are aware that our economic system is not perfect...It is true that the Soviet economy's growth rate has decreased".Professor L.V.Kantorovich, Nobel Prize Winner in Economics."The unemployment of developing economies arises because productive capacity and effective demand have never been at an appropriate level".Professor J.Robinson, University of Cambridge."Schumpeter was wrong when he thought there is a timetable for the disappearance of capitalism".Professor P.Samuelson, Nobel Prize winner in Economics."I am not as optimistic as Keynes in the sense the economic problem will disappear as a result of compound interest and technical progress."Professor J.Tinbergen, Nobel Prize Winner in Economics.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------"A useful and important book".Professor P.Samuelson, MIT, Nobel Prize winner in economics."A lively addition to the economics literature".ProfessorA.Hirschman, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey."You will have read, studied or taught the work of these outstanding economists.Now you get a chance to meet them.Through the work of Diego Pizano we learn about how they thought and not just what they thought". Professor R.Bates, Harvard University."Through penetrating and well structured questions, Colombian economist Diego Pizano manages to reveal the thought processes of five of the first Nobel Prize winners in Economics and two who could have obtained it, Joan Robinson and N.Kaldor.This book has to be read by all researchers interested in the history of economic thought and by all persons interested in economics as a discipline." Professor D.Hueth, University of Maryland___________________________________________________________________________________________________DIEGO PIZANO was economic advisor to the President of Colombia between 1982 and 1986.He is the Chairman of the Board of the University of the Andes(Bogotá, Colombia) and the President of the Common Code for the Coffee Community Association(Bonn, Germany). ... Read more
Customer Reviews (5)
The Thinking of a Group of Prominent Economists
This book by my old college classmate Diego Pizano presents conversations that he held about thirty years ago with eminent economists that were active at the time. Its preparation benefited from the author's deep familiarity with the writings of these economists and from an intelligent selection of issues that he discussed with them. Dr. Pizano's book also deserves credit for the clarity and readability of a subject matter that is at times complex, albeit always considerably interesting. With these ingredients, the reader will readily appreciate a set of economic controversies of the time, important both because of the academic interest they elicited as well as for their application to issues that were in fact not too different from those we face today.
The economists covered by the book span the widest ideological gamut, ranging from the free market extreme represented by Professor Hayek, to Professor Robinson's Keynesianism, and to Professor Kantarovich's economic planning. The author exploits this wide range of views to elicit responses from these economists to issues of interest that mark the book's thematic unity. By way of example, I point to two of those issues that should be of interest to readers. One relates to the methods that these economists used to develop their arguments, an issue that straddles the threshold between economics and philosophy and in which the book displays the author's deep interest and knowledge.The discussion highlights Hayek's support for an approach akin to the philosophy of Karl Popper, who argued that scientific theories, by their abstract nature, can be verified only by probing into their observable implications (the "pattern of a process", in Hayek's formulation). This contrasts with the more Kantian approach that emerges in the conversations with Professor Robinson or with the "a priori truths" of Lionnel Robbins and Ludwig Von Mises that Samuelson, in turn, rejects in his chapter.
The second example refers to the ubiquitous debate between free-market advocates and those that support planning and state intervention. It is particularly interesting that the pendulum of public opinion between the two continues to this day as each of the two approaches shows its positive and adverse manifestations. The chapter covering Kantarovich is an interesting testimonial of optimism on the merits of planning ten years prior to the disintegration of the Soviet Union. At the other extreme, Hayek's aversion to the concept of "social justice" in a market economy is something of a shock at a time when governments increasingly collect taxes, reputedly to achieve greater "social" justice through public spending.
The two examples above illustrate the depth and ample thematic content of a book that also discusses several other issues such as economic development and economic cycles. The care that Dr. Pizano afforded to the preparation of these discussions and the clarity in their presentation deserve my five-start rating of this book, which I took the opportunity to read and enjoy again in its second edition.
the humanside of great economists
To interview the world's greatest living economists: that was the brilliant idea that a young Colombian graduate student had during his time at Cambridge in the 1970s. He had the audacity to approach these eminent thinkers, and they, with the generosity that only true greatness can bestow, granted him the interviews. The very fact that they took the time to talk to a young academic reveals a great deal about them and their attitudes in life. The conversational question and answer format sheds light on their thoughts (and personalities) in ways that texts written for publication never could...they talk about their theories in language that is easy to understand. The brief descriptions of the different settings where these interviews took place in addition to the clear and direct answers ---which at times reveal playful sides to their characters-- make these formidable figures seem approachable and real and adds to our understanding. With the passage of time this book has gained in value as a testament of what these greats were really like.
It is a book that works for heavy duty economists as well as for people like me that are not experts but wish to understand more of the dismal science as the crisis looms. In particular I was fascinated to read about an outstanding woman economist Joan Robinson at Cambridge. I first read this book in Spanish and can personally vouch for the English version: it is an accurate translation that reads like "true" English.
Terrific interview with Hayek
This book contains an excellent interview with Friedrich Hayek on a variety of topics.The interviewer is well informed, and Hayek is in top form providing substantive and concise answers to good questions.
Dream team dialogues
Pizano, the young man, chose the Platonic formula of the dialogue between teacher and pupil. It works well.
The new edition in times of crisis is fortunate for an economy in which sense and great ideas have been assaulted by the vulgar voracity of buccaneers and adventurers.
I recommend the reading of this book to better understand economic policy
"Conversations with Great Economists" by Diego Pizano
Commentary by Jorge Ramírez-Ocampo, Former Minister for Economic Development of Colombia
Bogota, 28th September 2009
I met Diego Pizano in London in the early seventies. I was impressed by his maturity, devotion to academic work and profound concepts on economic issues. I have confirmed that impression during the last nearly forty years.
The book I comment is a small jewel. It was possible thanks to the impressive erudition in economic matters of the author and to the audacity of a young Colombian scholar who was bold enough to propose to some of the most important economists of the time a very ambitious project.
The method he used and his capacity to get to the point in his well prepared questions, allowed the people he interviewed to be very specific in their answers. The book will help his readers to understand some of the most complex concepts of economic theory.
Pizano did not limit the scope of his enquiries to people whose opinions were close to his own. Among the seven eminent economists interviewed there is a wide range of economic thinking: from Leonid Kantorovich, one of the main inspirers of economic planning in the Soviet Union, to Friedrich Hayek, a prophet of the political right in the XXth Century.
I strongly recommend the reading of this excellent book to whoever wants to try to understand the apparent contradiction between the progress of economic thinking and the frequent failures of economic policy during the last 70 years. This is much more relevant now, when we have to cope with the crisis we have been witnessing during the last two years.
... Read more