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Henry Ludwell Moore

Henry Ludwell Moore

American economist

Maryland native Henry L. Moore had a relatively quiet career. Moore was educated at Johns Hopkins, getting his B.A. in 1892 and his Ph.D in 1896. As a graduate student, he spent a year (1894-5) at the University of Vienna, where he attended courses given by Carl Menger. After a short stint as a lecturer at Johns Hopkins and Smith College, Moore joined the economics faculty at Columbia University in 1902, where he would remain for the remainder of his career.

Moore's early research on the Continental proto-marginalists von Thunen and Cournot inspired his interest in the Marginalist Revolution in general -- and the Lausanne School in particular. As a young man, Moore traveled to Europe and met Leon Walras in 1903 (with whom he continued a correspondence), Pareto in 1908 and Bortkiewicz in 1912.

Self-educated in mathematics and statistics, Henry Moore gradually became interested in the empirical examination of Neoclassical economics. His 1911 work used correlation analysis to empirically test the marginal productivity theory of distribution. This was to be carried on by his student, Paul H. Douglas.

In 1914, Moore jumped on board the business cycle wagon. Moore argued that economic cycles were caused by fluctuations in commodity production, which, in turn, are driven by rhythms of climate change. Moore identified a 8-year cycle on the basis of this. However, to make this work, Moore had to introduce an upward-sloping demand curve for pig-iron -- for which he was roundly criticized. A decade later, in his 1923 cycle book, this condition was replaced with a more acceptable one related to competition. However, he then introduced an even wackier hypothesis, connecting the 8-year climate cycle to the position of the planet Venus. Fellow economists giggled as astrologists got excited.

A critical component of Moore's analysis of cycles was his statistical estimation of demand and supply curves via least squares methods. In this, Moore's work was much better received and he can be rightly regarded as one of the fathers of econometrics. Moore's 1917 work employed such methods to forecast cotton yields. This line of research was carried on by Moore's most faithful student and disciple, Henry Schultz.

In a series of articles starting in 1925 and culminating in his Synthetic Economics (1929), Moore tried to connect business cycles and general equilibrium theory. He did this simply by assuming that the statistically-fitted trends of economic time series were precisely the theoretical equilibrium values. As statistical trends fluctuate over time, Moore modified the equilibrium equations of Walras's GE system, expressing them as ratios over trend and thus coming up with what he called a "moving equilibrium". Moore then showed how the deep parameters of the Walrasian system (e.g. partial elasticities of demand and supply, production coefficients, etc.) could just be computed by statistically estimating them from the trend values of the variables.

Although he never was quite successful in his estimation efforts, Henry Moore and his students at Columbia, notably Schultz and Douglas, accomplished much in pioneering empirical work that would influence later econometricians.

Timeline

November 21, 1869
Henry Ludwell Moore was born in Charles County.

Patents

Further Resources

Title
Author
Link
Type
Date

Economic Cycles: Their Law and Cause

Henry Ludwell Moore

Book

1914

Forecasting the yield and the price of cotton

Henry Ludwell Moore

Book

1917

Generating Economic Cycles : Henry Ludwell Moore : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Henry Ludwell Moore

Web

1923

Laws of Wages: An Essay in Statistical Economics

Henry Ludwell Moore

Book

1911

Synthetic Economics : Ludwell Moore Henry. : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

Henry Ludwell Moore

Web

1929

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