Erasmus School of Economics has recently established the H.J. Witteveen Chair, in honor of the contributions of Professor Witteveen in the field of the national and international financial-economic policy debate and for his contributions to the Dutch and world economy. The Chair, which has been realized thanks to the efforts of a Board of Recommendation, is linked to the incumbent holder of the Chair of Monetary Economics at Erasmus School of Economics, Professor Casper G. de Vries. With the Chair it is possible to expand research into macro risks and monetary economics and to refresh with the economic policy debate with novel insights.
The Rotterdam tradition
Casper de Vries responds with enthusiasm: ‘I am particularly delighted that the H.J. Witteveen Chair has been established at Erasmus University Rotterdam. Rotterdam has a special history when it comes to monetary macro-economics. In the thirties the Netherlands School of Economics was the odd man out, arguing against the golden 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. I hope to be able to continue to build onto this unconventional tradition and to keep on reviving.’
According to Professor Casper de Vries, the recent credit crunch and the euro crisis have demonstrated that research into monetary and macro-economics require a more pragmatic and versatile approach. De Vries: ‘For instance, take the aging of society or the flexibility of the labor market. Both developments harbor multiple problems that need to be tackled with different approaches. This perfectly fits into the pragmatic Rotterdam tradition. The H.J. Witteveen Chair’s research agenda makes a significant contribution to this paradigm.’ The research conducted by De Vries will focus on the study of major shocks in macro models; the interaction between the financial sector and the macro-economy; the issue of endogeneity of economic policy and the macro-economy (since policy and the macro-economy interact and therefore are difficult to separate); the relevance of monetary and financial markets as shock absorbers and as originators of shocks; the relation between the micro-economics of confidence and bubbles with the monetary macro-economy.
Johannes Witteveen (1921) started as a student at the Netherlands School of Economics (NEH) in 1939, one of the predecessor of Erasmus University Rotterdam. He graduated in 1947 with honors under supervision of Prof. Jan Tinbergen. Together with Tinbergen Johannes Witteveen helped shape the Bureau for Economic Policy Analysis. In 1948 he was appointed as full professor at the NEH. In 1963 Witteveen became 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. From 1973-1979 he was the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington. Furthermore he held many positions in supervisory boards of major international and Dutch companies. Decades after his retirement, he is still a respected economist with publications in the Financial Times. Recently he shared his ideas with the IMF-board, persuading them to take a larger role in the European debt crisis.