Harry Gordon Johnson

Harry Gordon Johnson

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Harry Gordon Johnson was a Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 economist
Economist
An economist is a professional in the social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and concepts from economics and write about economic policy...

 who studied topics such as International trade
International trade
International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. In most countries, such trade represents a significant share of gross domestic product...

 and International finance
International finance
International finance is the branch of economics that studies the dynamics of exchange rates, foreign investment, global financial system, and how these affect international trade. It also studies international projects, international investments and capital flows, and trade deficits. It includes...

.

He was born on 26 May 1923 in Toronto, Canada, the elder son of two children of Henry Herbert Johnson, newspaperman and later secretary of the Liberal Party of Ontario, and his wife, Frances Lily Muat, lecturer in child psychology at the Institute of Child Study of the University of Toronto.

Education


Johnson was educated at the University of Toronto schools and then obtained scholarships to the University of Toronto. This as followed by Cambridge for his BA
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

, University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 to earn his MA
Master of Arts (postgraduate)
A Master of Arts from the Latin Magister Artium, is a type of Master's degree awarded by universities in many countries. The M.A. is usually contrasted with the M.S. or M.Sc. degrees...

 and finally at Harvard
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 he gained his PhD
PHD
PHD may refer to:*Ph.D., a doctorate of philosophy*Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*PHD finger, a protein sequence*PHD Mountain Software, an outdoor clothing and equipment company*PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

.

He developed an interest in the history of thought, and was much influenced by Harold Innis
Harold Innis
Harold Adams Innis was a Canadian professor of political economy at the University of Toronto and the author of seminal works on media, communication theory and Canadian economic history. The affiliated Innis College at the University of Toronto is named for him...

's lectures and ideas on Canadian and general economic history. He later wrote that they remained an integral part of his intellectual equipment ever since. He graduated in 1943 and then, at the age of twenty, became, for one year, acting professor and sole member of the economics staff at St Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Nova Scotia
Antigonish, Nova Scotia
Antigonish is a Canadian town in Antigonish County, Nova Scotia. The town is home to St. Francis Xavier University and the oldest continuous highland games in North America.-History:...

.

In 1944 Johnson volunteered for active service in the Canadian armed forces and, after training, was sent to England
England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in 1945, eventually doing clerical work in Canada House
Canada House
The High Commission of Canada in the United Kingdom in London is the diplomatic mission from Canada to the United Kingdom. It is housed in two buildings in London.-History:...

. Demobilized in Britain, he was able to go to Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

, became an affiliated student of Jesus College
Jesus College, Cambridge
Jesus College is a constituent college of the University of Cambridge, England.The College was founded in 1496 on the site of a Benedictine nunnery by John Alcock, then Bishop of Ely...

, and took another bachelor's degree, obtaining the top first class in the economics tripos. Maurice Dobb
Maurice Dobb
Maurice Herbert Dobb , was a British Marxist economist, and a lecturer 1924-1959 and Reader 1959-1976 at Cambridge University and a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge 1948-1976.-Life:...

 was his supervisor. He became a member of the Political Economy Club, and at his first meeting heard John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes
John Maynard Keynes, Baron Keynes of Tilton, CB FBA , was a British economist whose ideas have profoundly affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, as well as the economic policies of governments...

 present a paper.

He was particularly impressed by the breadth and the ideas of Joseph Schumpeter
Joseph Schumpeter
Joseph Alois Schumpeter was an Austrian-Hungarian-American economist and political scientist. He popularized the term "creative destruction" in economics.-Life:...

, which greatly influenced his writings in later years. He completed the course work requirements for the doctorate in three terms. In 1948 he married Elizabeth Scott, daughter of Harold Victor Serson, civil engineer. She later became one of the editors of the collected writings of Keynes. They had one son and one daughter.

Career


Harry—as Johnson was universally known—was an inveterate conference-goer. In addition he visited innumerable universities, especially in Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and in Asia
Asia
Asia is the world's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres. It covers 8.7% of the Earth's total surface area and with approximately 3.879 billion people, it hosts 60% of the world's current human population...

. He ‘circled the globe like a planet’ (Scott, 80). This travelling style began in the fifties when he was teaching refresher courses for economists in Karachi
Karachi
Karachi is the largest city, main seaport and the main financial centre of Pakistan, as well as the capital of the province of Sindh. The city has an estimated population of 13 to 15 million, while the total metropolitan area has a population of over 18 million...

 and Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

. His travelling and ubiquitousness became legendary.

Physically he was a large man, overweight or at least stout, with piercing dark brown eyes. But he was far from sluggish, and gave an impression of intense and disciplined intellectual and physical energy. He was often loudly and informally dressed. His energy was kept under control by his continuous carving
Wood carving
Wood carving is a form of working wood by means of a cutting tool in one hand or a chisel by two hands or with one hand on a chisel and one hand on a mallet, resulting in a wooden figure or figurine, or in the sculptural ornamentation of a wooden object...

 of wooden statuettes, of which he made thousands in many different artistic styles. He carved at seminars and in his room, throughout the most concentrated discussions of intricate economic problems.

He was a strong drinker and his reputation at LSE was that he travelled weekly between London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, and he would enter each flight with a bottle of Southern Comfort
Southern Comfort
Southern Comfort is an American liqueur made from neutral spirits with fruit, spice and whiskey flavourings. The brand was originally created by bartender Martin Wilkes Heron in New Orleans in 1874, and is now owned by the Brown-Forman Corporation...

 and would leave it with a fully written paper! According to Moggeridge he was often deeply intoxicated whilst attending seminars and workshops. Despite his prolific writing he was criticized for essentially rewriting the same articles over and over. George Stigler
George Stigler
George Joseph Stigler was a U.S. economist. He won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1982, and was a key leader of the Chicago School of Economics, along with his close friend Milton Friedman....

 was asked about Johnson's 500 published papers vs. his 100. Stigler replied, "yes, but mine were all different."

The enormous admiration and affection for Johnson was reflected in the numerous obituaries by members of the economics profession that appeared in 1977. ‘For the economics profession throughout the world, the third quarter of this century was an Age of Johnson’ (Tobin, 443). ‘He bestrode our discipline like a Colossus
Colossus of Rhodes
The Colossus of Rhodes was a statue of the Greek Titan Helios, erected in the city of Rhodes on the Greek island of Rhodes by Chares of Lindos between 292 and 280 BC. It is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. It was constructed to celebrate Rhodes' victory over the ruler of...

’, ‘He was an institution’ (ibid.). ‘Canada lost one of its greatest sons’. He was ‘larger than life’ (the most common remark). ‘The one and only Harry’ (The Economist, 14 May 1977, 121). Harry Johnson died of a stroke
Stroke
A stroke, previously known medically as a cerebrovascular accident , is the rapidly developing loss of brain function due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia caused by blockage , or a hemorrhage...

 in Geneva
Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

 on 9 May 1977; he was survived by his wife.

Legacy


Johnson made many contributions to the development of Hecksher-Ohlin theory and until the 1970s according to Moggeridge, was the second most quoted trade theorist after Paul Samuelson
Paul Samuelson
Paul Anthony Samuelson was an American economist, and the first American to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. The Swedish Royal Academies stated, when awarding the prize, that he "has done more than any other contemporary economist to raise the level of scientific analysis in...

. Johnson also helped to found the monetary approach to the balance of payments
Balance of payments
Balance of payments accounts are an accounting record of all monetary transactions between a country and the rest of the world.These transactions include payments for the country's exports and imports of goods, services, financial capital, and financial transfers...

 and wrote many high quality surveys of monetary economics that helped to clarify the issues in question. Despite being perhaps the most prolific economist of the modern era, Johnson's star has waned as is evidenced by the significant fall (discussed in Moggeridge's biography) in citations to his work in the past decade.

The Canadian Economics Association
Canadian Economics Association
The Canadian Economics Association is an academic association of Canadian economists. Formerly part of the Canadian Political Science Association, CEA was formed as a separate scientific society in 1967. It currently has over 1,500 members, two thirds of which reside in Canada...

 presents a Harry Johnson Prize every year for the best article to appear in the Canadian Journal of Economics
Canadian Journal of Economics
The Canadian Journal of Economics/Revue canadienne d'économique is a peer-reviewed academic journal of economics published quarterly by Wiley-Blackwell on behalf of the Canadian Economics Association. In 1967 the journal was established from a split of The Canadian Journal of Economics and...

 in the preceding year.

Academics


Johnson graduated from the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 in 1943 and earned his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1958 with studies in between at Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

 in the late 1940s during which he met Keynes.

He held permanent teaching positions throughout Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, as well as visiting positions at universities worldwide. Notable amongst these were his time with Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 from 1959 to 1977, also during 1966-74 he worked at the London School of Economics
London School of Economics
The London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university specialised in the social sciences located in London, United Kingdom, and a constituent college of the federal University of London...

. He also held a visiting professorship at Queen's University
Queen's University
Queen's University, , is a public research university located in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Founded on 16 October 1841, the university pre-dates the founding of Canada by 26 years. Queen's holds more more than of land throughout Ontario as well as Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex, England...

 in Kingston
Kingston, Ontario
Kingston, Ontario is a Canadian city located in Eastern Ontario where the St. Lawrence River flows out of Lake Ontario. Originally a First Nations settlement called "Katarowki," , growing European exploration in the 17th Century made it an important trading post...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

.

Opinions


He retained a lifelong interest in Canadian politics and was heavily critical of nationalist
Nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 and interventionist
Interventionism
Interventionism may refer to:*Interventionism is a political term for significant activity undertaken by a state to influence something not directly under its control....

 policies which prevailed at his time.

In his policy-oriented writings, he clearly showed his beliefs in personal freedom and markets.

Writings


Johnson published many works on international and monetary economics theory. He also wrote many works aimed at the general public and policymakers.

According to Paul Samuelson
Paul Samuelson
Paul Anthony Samuelson was an American economist, and the first American to win the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. The Swedish Royal Academies stated, when awarding the prize, that he "has done more than any other contemporary economist to raise the level of scientific analysis in...

, when Johnson died he had eighteen papers in proof: “That is dying with your boots on!” said Samuelson

Johnson earned many honors. In 1977 he was named a distinguished fellow of the American Economic Association
American Economic Association
The American Economic Association, or AEA, is a learned society in the field of economics, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee. It publishes one of the most prestigious academic journals in economics: the American Economic Review...

, and in 1976 the Canadian government named him an officer of the Order of Canada
Order of Canada
The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order, admission into which is, within the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada, the second highest honour for merit...

.

Johnson wrote a large number of book
Book
A book is a set or collection of written, printed, illustrated, or blank sheets, made of hot lava, paper, parchment, or other materials, usually fastened together to hinge at one side. A single sheet within a book is called a leaf or leaflet, and each side of a leaf is called a page...

s and articles
Article (publishing)
An article is a written work published in a print or electronic medium. It may be for the purpose of propagating the news, research results, academic analysis or debate.-News articles:...

, the total of his writings were:
  • 526 professional articles
  • 41 books and pamphlets
  • 150 book reviews

  • 1953. “Optimum Tariffs and Retaliation.” Review of Economic Studies 21, no. 2: 142–153.
  • 1959. “British Monetary Statistics.” Economica 26 (February): 1–17.
  • 1961. “The ‘General Theory’ After Twenty-five Years.” American Economic Review 51 (May): 1–17.
  • 1963. The Canadian Quandary: Economic Problems and Policies. Toronto: McGraw-Hill.
  • 1969. Essays in Monetary Economics. 2d ed. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • 1971. “The Keynesian Revolution and the Monetarist Counter-revolution.” American Economic Review 61 (May): 1–14.
  • 1972. Further Essays in Monetary Economics. London: George Allen and Unwin.

External links