823. Harrod to J. J. Polak , 1 September 19388 [a]

Christ Church, Oxford #

1 September 1938

Dear Polak

I apologize for not having answered your letter before. [1] I had a long talk with Tinbergen himself and forgot that I owed you a letter also.

I gather that Frisch sets out in precise mathematical language objections not unlike those which were expressed at the committee. [2] I think that the limitations of the method ought to be emphasized in the publication and that Tinbergen has this in mind.

But I think it would be a great mistake to encumber the proposed new chapter I with discussions that are so technical. [3] The material is already likely to prove too difficult for the general reader and for many students. Nothing should be done to increase this difficulty.

Yours sincerely

R. F. Harrod

  1. 1. Circular letter, dated 15 August 1938, from Polak to Frisch, Divisia, Robertson, Harrod, Marschak, Lundberg, Koopmans and Bowley, accompanying the memoranda described in note 2 to this letter. A copy of the letter to Divisia and instructions to the secretary to distribute these materials to the above mentioned persons are filed in LoN 10B.34983.12653.

    2. Harrod is referring to two memoranda concerning Tinbergen's League of Nations inquiry, which were circulated on 15 August 1938 among the participants in the Cambridge meeting (on which see letter 772 ). The first memorandum was transmitted by Frisch soon after the Cambridge meeting ("Statistical versus Theoretical Relations in Economic Macrodynamics", 14 pages, T mimeograph, dated 17 July 1938), the other was Tinbergen's reply ("Mr. Tinbergen's reply to Professor Frisch's Note", five pages, T mimeograph). Both memoranda are filed in LoN 10B.34983.12653, and are now published in D. F. Hendry and M. S. Morgan, The Foundations of Econometric Analysis, Cambridge: At the University Press, 1995, pp. 407-23.

    3. Harrod refers to the "Introduction" to Tinbergen, "A Statistical Test of Business Cycles Theories" (1938) (later published as Statistical Testing of Business Cycles Theories, 1939), which was written at Harrod's request (see letter 828 , [jump to page] ). Polak agreed that "it would do no good to indicate the limitations of the method in too technical language" (letter to Harrod, 5 September 1938, in LoN 10B/34983/12653).

    1. a. ALS, two pages on one leaf, in LoN 10B.34983.12653.


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