The Importance of HUMBUG in The Cambridge-Cambridge Controversies in Capital Theory

  • G. C. Harcourt


I am delighted and honoured to contribute an essay to the Special Issue of the Global and Local Economic Review in honour of Anwar Shaikh’s contributions, and especially to honour 40 years on, the publication of his wonderful HUMBUG article, “Laws of production and laws of algebra: the Humbug production function” in the February 1974 issue of The Review of Economics and Statistics.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bhaduri, A. (1969), “On the significance of recent controversies on capital theory: A Marxian view”, Economic Journal, 79, 532–9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Blaug, M. (1974), The Cambridge Revolution: Success or Failure? A Critical Analysis of Cambridge Theories of Value and Distribution, London: Institute of Economic Affairs.Google Scholar
  3. Brown, P. [Henry Phelps Brown] (1957), “The meaning of fitted Cobb-Douglas functions”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 71, 546–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Ferguson, C.E. (1969), The Neoclassical Theory of Production and Distribution, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Felipe, J. and J.S.L. McCombie (2013), “How sound are the foundations of the aggregate production function?” in Harcourt and Kriesler (eds) (2013), 202–30.Google Scholar
  6. Fisher, F.M (1971), “Aggregate production functions and the explanation of wages: A simulation experiment”, Review of Economics and Statistics, 53, 305–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Foley, D.K. and T. Michl (1999). Growth and Distribution. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Harcourt, G.C. (1969), “Some Cambridge Controversies in the theory of capital”, Journal of Economic Literature, 7, 369–405.Google Scholar
  9. Harcourt, G.C. (1972), Some Cambridge Controversies in the Theory of Capital, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harcourt, G.C. (1976), “The Cambridge controversies: Old ways and new horizons — or dead end?”, Oxford Economic Papers, 28, 25–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Harcourt, G.C. and Peter Kriesler (eds) (2013), The Oxford Handbook of Post-Keynesian Economics, Volume 2. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Harris, D.J. (1975), “The theory of economic growth: A critique and reformulation”, American Economic Review. Papers and Proceedings, 65, 329–37.Google Scholar
  13. Harris, D.J. (1978), Capital Accumulation and Income Distribution, Stanford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Harrod, R.F. (1939), “An essay in dynamic theory”, Economic Journal, 49, 14–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kaldor, N. (1957), “A model of economic growth”, Economic Journal, 67, 591–624.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kalecki, M. (1936), “Pare uwag o teorii Keynesa” (“Some remarks on Keynes’ theory”), Ekonomista, 3, reprinted in C.W., vol I , 223–32.Google Scholar
  17. Nell, Edward J. (ed.) (1980), Growth, Profits and Property. Essays in the Revival of Political Economy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Osiatynski, J. (ed.) (1990), Collected Works of Michał Kalecki, vol I: Capitalism, Business Cycles and Full Employment. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  19. Robinson, Joan (1962), Essays in the Theory of Economic Growth. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Robinson, Joan (1971), Economic Heresies: Some Old-fashioned Questions in Economic Theory. London: Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Samuelson, Paul A. (1997), “Wherein Do the European and American Models Differ?”, Address delivered at the Bank of Italy, October 2, 1997, Number 30, mimeo.Google Scholar
  22. Shaikh, Anwar (1973), “Theories of Value and Theories of Distribution”, Ph.D Dissertation, New York: Columbia University.Google Scholar
  23. Shaikh, Anwar (1974), “Laws of production and laws of algebra: The Humbug production function”, Review of Economics and Statistics, 54, 115–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Shaikh, Anwar (1980), “Laws of production and laws of algebra: Humbug II”, in Nell (ed.) (1980), 80–95.Google Scholar
  25. Shaikh, Anwar (1997), “Marx’s theory of value and the transformation problem”, in Jesse Schwartz (ed.), The Subtle Anatomy of Capitalism. Santa Monica: Goodyear Publishing Company, 106–39.Google Scholar
  26. Shaikh, Anwar (1998), “The empirical strength of the labor theory of value”, in Riccardo Bellofiore (ed.), Marxian Economics: A Reapppraisal. London: Macmillan, Vol. 2, 225–51.Google Scholar
  27. Shaikh, Anwar and E. Ahmet Tonak (1994), Measuring the Wealth of Nations: The Political Economy of National Accounts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Simon, H. and F. Levy (1963), “A note on the Cobb-Douglas function”, Review of Economic Studies, 30, 93–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Solow, R.M. (1956), “A contribution to the theory of economic growth”, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 70, 65–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Solow, R.M. (1957), “Technical change and the aggregate production function”, Review of Economics and Statistics, 39, 312–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Solow, R.M. (1974), “Laws of production and laws of algebra: A comment”, Review of Economics and Statistics, 56, 121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Sraffa, Piero (1926), “The laws of returns under competitive conditions”, Economic Journal, 36, 535–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Targetti, F. and B. Kinda-Hass (1982), “Kalecki’s review of Keynes’ General Theory”, Australian Economic Papers, 21, 244–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Joseph Halevi, G. C. Harcourt, Peter Kriesler and J. W. Nevile 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. C. Harcourt

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations