Alumnus, professor and rector magnificus Johannes Witteveen dies at 97

Johannes Witteveen, alumnus, professor and rector magnificus of the Netherlands School of Economics (Nederlandse Economische Hogeschool), one of the predecessors of Erasmus University Rotterdam, died Tuesday 23 April 2019, aged 97.

Johannes Witteveen (1921) started as a student at the Netherlands School of Economics (NEH) in 1939. He obtained his doctorate in 1947 with honors under supervision of Professor Jan Tinbergen. Together with Tinbergen Johannes Witteveen helped shape the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis (CPB). In 1948 he was appointed as full professor at the NEH. In 1963 Witteveen rose to become the Minister of Finance in the Marijnen Cabinet. After the demise of this cabinet, Witteveen reentered the House of Representatives and became an endowed professor of political economy at the NEH. In 1967 he returned as the Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister, this time serving in the Cabinet De Jong. The crown on his political economy career was his appointment as Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund in Washington from 1973-1978. Later he held many positions in supervisory boards of major international and Dutch companies.

Valedictory lecture 50 years later

In May 2014, on the occasion of the centennial celebration, Erasmus School of Economics organised the valedictory lecture by Professor Johannes Witteveen. Due to his appointment as Minister of Finance 50 years earlier, he never had the chance to end his academic career officially. In his lecture Witteveen focused on the large Netherlands structural balance of payments surplus and its counterpart, the saving surplus. In connection with this, he discussed anti-cyclical and structural economic policies.

H.J. Witteveen Chair established in 2015

To recognise the achievements of Prof. Witteveen, Erasmus School of Economics took the initiative in 2015, to establish the H.J. Witteveen Chair in honor of his contributions in the field of the national and international financial-economic policy debate and for his contributions to the Dutch and world economy. Until this present day the Chair is linked to the incumbent holder of the Chair of Monetary Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, Professor Casper G. de Vries.

The Rotterdam tradition

This was a great honor for Professor De Vries who remembers that Rotterdam had a special history when it came to monetary macro-economics. De Vries: In the thirties the NEH was the odd man out, arguing against the gold standard. A key debate about macro-economics was fuelled from Rotterdam in the fifties involving Koopmans, Holtrop, Witteveen and Tinbergen. Monetarism entered the Netherlands via Rotterdam. Johannes was one of the great Dutch postwar macroeconomists, both in theory and in practice, with a very kind personality. As holder of the Chair we had several formal and informal exchanges and discussions about the economy. He remained active in the economic policy debate until the very end, always concerned with the economy and the people.’

More information

For additional information please contact Ronald de Groot, Communication Officer of Erasmus School of Economics, rdegroot@ese.eur.nl, mobile: +31 6 53 641 846.

For an interview with Professor Casper de Vries on the occasion of the death of Johannes Witteveen on Radio Rijnmond, d.d. 26 April 2019, click here.