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History of Political Economy 33.2 (2001) 375-377
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Money and Growth:
Selected Papers of Allyn Abbott Young
Money and Growth: Selected Papers of Allyn Abbott Young. Edited by Perry G. Mehrling and Roger J. Sandilands. London and New York: Routledge, 1999. xxv; 430 pp. $115.
Charles Blitch subtitled his 1995 biography of Allyn Young The Peripatetic Economist. Young had a varied career, holding positions at, among others, Stanford, Cornell, Harvard, and the London School of Economics, and partly as a result he did not publish much in the main academic journals. When he died suddenly in London in March 1929 at the age of fifty-two he had published only one collection of his papers (Young 1927). A new collection is very welcome, especially to those of us interested in the history of economics in the twentieth century.
The editors of this volume have endeavored to make accessible many writings of Young that first appeared in obscure or unconventional (for an academic economist) outlets: for instance, the Cornell Civil Engineer and the long defunct Annalist published by the New York Times, as well as the Encyclopaedia Britannica and the Book of Popular Science. They have included a few academic articles, most notably Young's inaugural lecture as Professor of Political Economy at LSE, “English Political Economy,” and his presidential address to Section F of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, the famous “Increasing Returns and Economic Progress,” both of which were delivered and published after his 1927 collection. However, “mindful of space considerations and the budgetary constraints of interested scholars,” they have “sought to produce a volume for the most part complementary” to the 1927 collection (xii). It is presumably for this reason that they include Young's 1913 review of A. C. Pigou's Wealth and Welfare but leave out his equally valuable reviews of the posthumous edition of William Stanley Jevons's Theory of Political Economy and of The Trend of Economics by R. G. Tugwell and others (Young 1927, chaps. 11 and 12), as well as his first major journal article, “Some Limitations of the Value Concept.” They nonetheless reprint “Economics and War,” Young's presidential address to the American Economic Association, with which Young opened his 1927 volume. [End Page 375]
A Ph.D. student at Wisconsin, Young later helped revise the best-selling Outlines of Economics of Richard T. Ely (1908). Of the twelve chapters for which he was responsible, one on the social dividend is reprinted here. The next item, “Socialism,” comprising three extracts from a set of lecture notes for a course at Washington University in 1912, is more interesting. The editors have rightly included Young's deservedly famous contributions of “Economics,” “Capital,” and “Supply and Demand” to the fourteenth edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but they have unfortunately excluded the complementary pieces on land, rent, labor, wages, and price, on the ground that one of the editors had republished the whole set elsewhere (Sandilands 1990, 115–60).
Young's contributions to the Book of Popular Science published by the Grolier Society in 1924 and in a revised edition in 1929 take up over half of this volume. The most interesting of the twenty-six chapters included are the six on money and credit: although they whet the appetite for the work that Young is thought to have been writing at the time of his death, they do not, in the opinion of this reviewer, live up to the promise implied in the editors' comment that they “constitute a small book by themselves, the longest sustained effort by Young on the subject of his special expertise” (xii).
Young did publish a short book, An Analysis of Bank Statistics for the United States, in 1928. Although as one editor has argued (Mehrling 1996, 623) it is still well worth reading, it is represented here only by extracts from two of its four chapters. The editors round out their selection of Young's writings on money with his prefaces to two monographs by others and with his piece...