Galbraith, John Kenneth

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Galbraith, John Kenneth

John Kenneth Galbraith (găl´brāth), 1908–2006, American economist and public official, b. Ontario, Canada, grad. Univ. of Toronto (B.S., 1931), Univ. of California, Berkeley (M.S., 1933; Ph.D., 1934). After becoming (1937) a U.S. citizen and teaching economics at Harvard (1934–39) and Princeton (1939–40), he entered government service, working (1941–43) in the Office of Price Administration. He was an editor of Fortune magazine from 1943–48, also serving on the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey (1945) and in other governmental advisory posts before returning (1949) to Harvard. An adviser to Democratic presidents from Franklin D. Roosevelt to Bill Clinton, most prominently to John F. Kennedy, he also was (1961–63) U.S. ambassador to India. He rejoined the Harvard faculty in 1963 (he became a professor emeritus in 1975) and continued his political activities, serving (1967–69) as chairman of Americans for Democratic Action. A Keynesian economist and a celebrated liberal, Galbraith advocated government spending to fight unemployment, supported the use of more of the nation's wealth for public services and less for private consumption, and warned against an unregulated free-market system. An influential thinker and a popularizer of economic thought, he wrote more than 40 books including American Capitalism (1952), The Great Crash 1929 (1955), The Affluent Society (1958, rev. ed. 1985), The Liberal Hour (1960), The New Industrial State (1967, rev. ed. 1971), Economics and the Public Purpose (1973), The Good Society (1997), and The Economics of Innocent Fraud (2004). A witty and urbane man with wide-ranging interests, he also wrote a book on Indian art (1968) and several novels.

See his memoir, The Scotch (1964, repr. 1985); autobiography, A Life in Our Times (1981); Ambassador's Journal (1969); and history, Name-Dropping: From FDR On (1999); J. Goodman, ed., Letters to Kennedy/John Kenneth Galbraith (1998); J. R. and J. B. Stanfield, ed., Interviews with John Kenneth Galbraith (2004); A. D. Williams, ed., The Essential Galbraith (2001); biography by R. Parker (2005); studies by C. H. Hession (1972), M. E. Sharpe (1973), A. D. Williams (1979), D. Reisman (1980), J. R. Stanfield (1996), H. Sasson, ed. (1999), and B. Laperche and D. Uzunidis, ed. (2005).

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