As promised, I am beginning a series of posts about R. G. Hawtrey’s book Good and Bad Trade, published 100 years ago in 1913. Good and Bad Trade was not only Hawtrey’s first book on economics, it was his first publication of any kind on economics, and only his second publication of any kind, the first having been an article on naval strategy written even before his arrival at Cambridge as an undergraduate. Perhaps on the strength of that youthful publication, Hawtrey’s first position, after having been accepted into the British Civil Service, was in the Admiralty, but he soon was transferred to the Treasury where he remained for over forty years till 1947.
Though he was a Cambridge man, Hawtrey had studied mathematics and philosophy at Cambridge. He was deeply influenced by the Cambridge philosopher G. E. Moore, an influence most clearly evident in one of Hawtrey’s few works of economics not primarily concerned with monetary theory, history or policy, The Economic Problem. Hawtrey’s mathematical interests led him to a correspondence with another Cambridge man, Bertrand Russell, which Russell refers to in his Principia Mathematica. However, Hawtrey seems to have had no contact with Alfred Marshall or any other Cambridge economist. Indeed, the only economist mentioned by Hawtrey in Good and Bad Trade was none other than Irving Fisher, whose distinction between the real and nominal rates of interest Hawtrey invokes in chapter 5. So Hawtrey was clearly an autodidact in economics. It is likely that Hawtrey’s self-education in economics started after his graduation from Cambridge when he was studying for the Civil Service entrance examination, but it seems likely that Hawtrey continued an intensive study of economics even afterwards, for although Hawtrey was not in the habit of engaging in lengthy discussions of earlier economists, his sophisticated familiarity with the history of economics and of economic history is quite unmistakable. Nevertheless, it is a puzzle that Hawtrey uses the term “natural rate of interest” to signify more or less the same idea that Wicksell had when he used the term, but without mentioning Wicksell.
In his introductory chapter, Hawtrey lays out the following objective:
My present purposed is to examine certain elements in the modern economic organization of the world, which appear to be intimately connected with [cyclical] fluctuations. I shall not attempt to work back from a precise statistical analysis of the fluctuations which the world has experienced to the causes of all the phenomena disclosed by such analysis. But I shall endeavor to show what the effects of certain assumed economic causes would be, and it will, I think, be found that these calculated effects correspond very closely with the observed features of the fluctuations.
The general result up to which I hope to work is that the fluctuations are due to disturbances in the available stock of “money” – the term “money” being take to cover every species of purchasing power available for immediate use, both legal tender money and credit money, whether in the form of coin, notes, or deposits at banks. (p. 3)
In the remainder of this post, I will present a quick overview of the entire book, and, then, as a kind of postscript to my earlier series of posts on Hawtrey and Keynes, I will comment on the fact that it seems quite clear that it was Hawtrey who invented the term “effective demand,” defining it in a way that does not appear significantly different from the meaning that Keynes attached to it.
Hawtrey posits that the chief problem associated with the business cycle is that workers are unable to earn an income with which to sustain themselves during business-cycle contractions. The source of this problem in Hawtrey’s view is some sort of malfunction in the monetary system, even though money, when considered from the point of view of an equilibrium, seems unimportant, inasmuch as any set of absolute prices would work just as well as another, provided that relative prices were consistent with equilibrium.
In chapter 2, Hawtrey explains the idea of a demand for money and how this demand for money, together with any fixed amount of inconvertible paper money will determine the absolute level of prices and the relationship between the total amount of money in nominal terms and the total amount of income.
In chapter 3, Hawtrey introduces the idea of credit money and banks, and the role of a central bank.
In chapter 4, Hawtrey discusses the organization of production, the accumulation of capital, and the employment of labor, explaining the matching circular flows: expenditure on goods and services, the output of goods and services, and the incomes accruing from that output.
Having laid the groundwork for his analysis, Hawtrey in chapter 5 provides an initial simplified analysis of the effects of a monetary disturbance in an isolated economy with no banking system.
Hawtrey continues the analysis in chapter 6 with a discussion of a monetary disturbance in an isolated economy with a banking system.
In chapter 7, Hawtrey discusses how a monetary disturbance might actually come about in an isolated community.
In chapter 8, Hawtrey extends the discussion of the previous three chapters to an open economy connected to an international system.
In chapter 9, Hawtrey drops the assumption of an inconvertible paper money and introduces an international metallic system (corresponding to the international gold standard then in operation).
Having completed his basic model of the business cycle, Hawtrey, in chapter 10, introduces other sources of change, e.g., population growth and technological progress, and changes in the supply of gold.
In chapter 11, Hawtrey drops the assumption of the previous chapters that there are no forces leading to change in relative prices among commodities.
In chapter 12, Hawtrey enters into a more detailed analysis of money, credit and banking, and, in chapter 13, he describes international differences in money and banking institutions.
In chapters 14 and 15, Hawtrey traces out the sources and effects of international cyclical disturbances.
In chapter 16, Hawtey considers financial crises and their relationship to cyclical phenomena.
In chapter 17, Hawtrey discusses banking and currency legislation and their effects on the business cycle.
Chapters 18 and 19 are devoted to taxation and public finance.
Finally in chapter 20, Hawtrey poses the question whether cyclical fluctuations can be prevented.
After my series on Hawtrey and Keynes, I condensed those posts into a paper which, after further revision, I hope will eventually appear in the forthcoming Elgar Companion to Keynes. After I sent it to David Laidler for comments, he pointed out to me that I had failed to note that it was actually Hawtrey who, in Good and Bad Trade, introduced the term “effective demand.”
The term makes its first appearance in chapter 1 (p. 4).
The producers of commodities depend, for their profits and for the means of paying wages and other expenses, upon the money which they receive for the finished commodities. They supply in response to a demand, but only to an effective demand. A want becomes an effective demand when the person who experiences the want possesses (and can spare) the purchasing power necessary ot meet the price of the thing which will satisfy it. A man may want a hat, but if he has no money [i.e., income or wealth] he cannot buy it, and his want does not contribute to the effective demand for hats.
Then at the outset of chapter 2 (p. 6), Hawtrey continues:
The total effective demand for all finished commodities in any community is simply the aggregate of all money incomes. The same aggregate represents also the total cost of production of all finished commodities.
Once again, Hawtrey, in chapter 4 (pp. 32-33), returns to the concept of effective demand
It was laid down that the total effective demand for all commodities si simply the aggregate of all incomes, and that the same aggregate represents the total cost of production of all commodities.
Hawtrey attributed fluctuations in employment to fluctuations in effective demand inasmuch as wages and prices would not adjust immediately to a change in total spending.
Here is how Keynes defines aggregate demand in the General Theory (p. 55)
[T]he effective demand is simply the aggregate income or (proceeds) which the entrepreneurs expect to receive, inclusive of the income which they will hand on to the other factors of production, from the amount of current employment which they decide to give. The aggregate demand function relates various hypothetical quantities of employment to the proceeds which their outputs are expected to yield; and the effective demand is the point on the aggregate demand function which becomes effective because, taken in conjunction with the conditions of supply, it corresponds to the level of employment which maximizes the entrepreneur’s expectation of profit.
So Keynes in the General Theory obviously presented an analytically more sophisticated version of the concept of effective demand than Hawtrey did over two decades earlier, having expressed the idea in terms of entrepreneurial expectations of income and expenditure and specifying a general functional relationship (aggregate demand) between employment and expected income. Nevertheless, the basic idea is still very close to Hawtrey’s. Interestingly, Hawtrey never asserted a claim of priority on the concept, whether it was because of his natural reticence or because he was unhappy with how Keynes made use of the idea, or perhaps some other reason, I would not venture to say. But perhaps others would like to weigh in with some speculations of their own.