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TK was a great colleague and economist.

The "unreconstructed Keynesian" bit is accurate and precise. He wasn't a Neo-Keynesian, New-Keynesian, Post-Keynesian, or any sort of hyphenated Keynesian. He thought the General Theory had it right. I remember him making a gesture of putting his hand on the GT as one would put one's hand on the Bible (TK was also a committed Anglican). But that didn't make him a closed mind party-liner.

We didn't (of course) see macro the same way. But TK was always open to discussion (or, more accurately, argument) on any new approach. And would usually come up with some new angle on the question. "But is that *right* Nicky? What about...?"

I never really understood properly his work on measurement of technological progress (not my area), but I had the sense he was onto something. If there is capital accumulation *as a result of technical progress*, we ought to attribute *all* the extra output that results to technical progress, and not attribute part of it to capital accumulation. (My understanding of his point here may not be fully accurate.)

It's a long time since I read his Innis lecture. I will now read it again.

My condolences to Prof. Rymes' family.

I took a couple of courses with Prof. Rymes while I was at Carleton. He was always approachable and a good teacher, even if a lot of that Cambridge stuff - i.e., Kaldor, Pasinetti and Robinson - didn't sink in at the time. Fortunately, I've since shaken loose from the contraints of his Keynesianism, which didn't help me much in fourth year macro with Prof. Rowe. I do get it now though Nick.

I got to know TK a little bit while he was visiting the University of Adelaide in Australia. I also got to work with Nick there for a year, but I don't remember if the two of them overlapped. At any rate, TK was always fun to be around and impressed me as a really good guy. I always enjoyed talking to him, and I'm sad to hear about his passing.


Pete: remember that absolutely hideous monster hanging from the Tea Room ceiling at University of Adelaide, that TK left there? (I followed him the next year.)

After a sabbatical year, Carleton faculty are required to submit a Report to the Dean. TK added a letter from his Adelaide tennis coach, saying how much his game had improved. (He had, of course, also done plenty of other academically proper things, but couldn't resist.)

One thing I should have mentioned but didn't - when I first came to Carleton and started working on feminist economics (not being one to take the easy path to tenure), TK was enormously encouraging, and gave me a lot of support for this work. It's easy to forget that, 20 years ago, there were far fewer women in academia than there were today.

TK was a genuine feminist (Betsy might have had something to do with that!). One of his later publications was a biography of Mabel Timlin that he wrote for the Canadian Women Economists Network, which we talked a lot about.

Having been a student at Carleton almost forever when TK was at his prime, it was of course impossible for me to miss having him as an instructor. As much as I'd like to cite him as a mentor, I'm afraid his academic influence on me was limited to scaring me the hell away from monetary and macro economics.

That being said, he was an example in the way he had such an abiding intellectual interest in things. Even when you couldn't understand a thing he was trying to get across, that translated loud and clear.

And he was a classy example to anyone contemplating a life as an academic of how to get along with others. Always cordial, always respectful. A little formal, but clearly in a friendly way.

I'll miss knowing he's there.

Nick, thanks for resurrecting/un-repressing that memory! Now that the floodgates are opened, I seem to remember TK 'taking issue' with something Adrian Pagan said at one of the first conferences I went to in Oz. In fact I think he introduced me to Adrian at the same venue. And the tennis letter sounds very TK!


Marc Lavoie sent me this extract from a longer piece that he's writing about post-Keynesian thought.

Marc Lavoie writes:

My second encounter with post-Keynesian economics occurred in the Honours Seminar in Modern Classics, given during the whole academic year of 1975-76 by Thomas K. Rymes. For a long time I used to say that I was the only Quebec heterodox home-grown economist who had no relationship whatsoever with McGill University, where for instance Tom Asimakopulos and other heterodox folks were teaching, since all Quebec heterodox economists, such as my colleague Mario Seccareccia or the late Gilles Dostaler had done their MA or PhD at McGill. But then I later discovered that T.K. Rymes, as he was known, himself had a PhD from McGill University, so I also had an indirect link with McGill.

Rymes’s honours seminar covered an incredible amount of ground and introduced its students to a wide range of highly diversified literature. I still have the course outline, which dealt with consumer theory, the theory of the firm (Coase, Demsetz, Alchian, Jensen and Meckling (the famous or infamous inventors of the distinction between the principal and the agent), as well as discussions of shirking), general equilibrium theory (Walras, Arrow, Hahn, Meade, Newman, H.G. Johnson, Jones, Solow, Bent Hansen), and Keynesian macroeconomics (Patinkin, Clower, Leijonhufvud, as well as Milton Friedman, and a thorough examination of Keynes’s chapter 17, of which I could never make any sense despite the additional reading of dozens of interpreters). During his class presentation of Patinkin’s interpretation of Keynes, I complained to Rymes that if Patinkin was correct then there was little that Keynes had contributed to economic theory, a comment that Rymes himself recalled to me ten years later when we were together in Cambridge in the Fall of 1985.

We were also asked to read the 1937 Quarterly Journal of Economics paper written by Keynes as a response to some of the reviews of his General Theory, which gave me a second opportunity to encounter the concept of fundamental uncertainty and its impact on rational behaviour. Indeed the essay that I chose for this course was to make a comparison of Frank Knight’s Risk, Uncertainty and Profit and Schumpeter’s Theory of Economic Development, my main claim being that these two authors were closely related since Schumpeter’s innovations created the fundamental uncertainty that Knight was so much talking about. Rymes always remained fascinated by Keynes’s General Theory and his breakaway from neoclassical analysis, and he is well known for having been the editor of Keynes’s lectures 1932-33 (Rymes 1989) which consists of the merger of 16 sets of notes that were taken over four terms by former students of Keynes during his lectures, when he was presenting the various drafts of the General Theory.

Rymes also spent a couple of weeks on growth theory and another couple of weeks on the Cambridge controversies in capital. We were asked to read parts of Roy Harrod’s Towards a Dynamic Economics (1948), Joan Robinson (1956, 1962), Kaldor (1956) and Pasinetti (1962). I very much remember being fascinated by Robinson’s banana diagram, which shows the relationship between investment and realized profit rates, and between expected profit rates and desired investment. I was also very much enthusiastically puzzled by Pasinetti’s reinterpretation of Kaldor’s macroeconomic profit equation, where the profit rate, in the long run, only depends on the growth rate and the propensity to save of the capitalist class, regardless of the propensity to save of the working class. All of us, however, in the class, had a hard time making sense of the Cambridge capital controversies. We were presented with the two-sector constant-coefficient model that was then fashionable, and run through the various capital-reversing and reswitching paradoxes. At the time, we all wondered why Rymes would bother covering such arcane stuff, about which he seemed to be so uncertain. It is only a year later, when I was browsing through the shelves of some bookstore in London, England, where my parents had moved to for four years, that I discovered that we were all mistaken and that T.K. Rymes had a vast knowledge of the controversies, having written a whole book on the Cambridge capital controversies, with a highly favourable preface by no other than Joan Robinson, and a highly original interpretation of what the controversies were really about, in his view the appropriate meaning of capital and hence the measure of technical progress (Rymes 1971).

On a less serious note, Tom always used to say that he was taking his sabbatical in Australia to improve his backhand.

- Marc Lavoie

From Jack Galbraith....

My first encounters with TK were at academic sessions at McGill in the 1970’s. It was only after moving to Ottawa in the 1980’s, however, that I got to know him really well and so fully see him as a wide-ranging, well-read, first-rate economist that he was.

I shall be ever in his debt for having initiated, and over-seen, my becoming a member of Carleton’s Economics Department in 1988. Thus began for me a long and fruitful association with TK in one of his many fields of interest - monetary economics. I benefited so much from his depth of knowledge, breath of reading, and dedication to scholarship in that field. Furthermore, his very passion for the subject and his ability to stimulate was a tremendous motivator.

His passion for his discipline was never more obvious to me than when as his health became compromised he continued meeting with me, even off campus when it became difficult for him to get into the Department.

As a person, however, he was much more than his chosen discipline. I never more clearly saw the compassionate and caring side of TK than when earlier this year, when communication by any means for him became most awkward, he telephoned me on learning of my wife’s death. Of all the condolences I received that most moved me.

Many beside his grieving family will miss him sorely but none more than me.

Jack Galbraith,

Adjunct Research Professor

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