“The Fiscal Policy Seminar: Its Early Stages” by Richard A. Musgrave

Desmarais-Tremblay, Maxime and Johnson, Marianne. 2019. “The Fiscal Policy Seminar: Its Early Stages” by Richard A. Musgrave. Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, 37C, pp. 147-179. ISSN 0743-4154 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Alvin Hansen and John Williams’ Fiscal Policy Seminar at Harvard University is widely regarded as a key mechanism for the spread of Keynesianism in the United States. An original and regular participant, Richard A. Musgrave was invited to prepare remarks for the fiftieth anniversary of the seminar in 1988. These were never published, though a copy was filed with Musgrave’s papers at Princeton University. Their reproduction here is important for several reasons. First, it is one of the last reminiscences of the original participants. Second, the remarks make an important contribution to our understanding of the Harvard School of macro-fiscal policy. Third, the remarks provide interesting insights into Musgrave’s views on national economic policymaking as well as the intersection between theory and practice. The reminiscence demonstrates the importance of the seminar in shifting Musgrave’s research focus and moving him to a more pragmatic approach to public finance.

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The text is an introduction to an unpublished manuscript written by Richard A. Musgrave in 1988 and titled “The Fiscal Policy Seminar: Its Early Stage.” Both this introduction and Musgrave’s manuscript are published in Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, Vol. 37C https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/S0743-41542019000037C007/full/html


Richard A. Musgrave, Alvin Hansen, Harvard University, fiscal policy, public finance, Keynesianism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Institute of Management Studies


16 April 2019Accepted
15 October 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

08 Oct 2019 09:46

Last Modified:

09 Jun 2021 17:27

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



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