Scholarly Comments on Academic Economics

Trygve Hoff’s Appeal to Ragnar Frisch: Four Letters from 1941

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Both Trygve Hoff and Ragnar Frisch were born in 1895, both were Norwegians, and both were economists. Both were forceful personalities with clear views. Published here is personal correspondence between them, consisting of four letters (November–December 1941). In 1969, Frisch was (along with Jan Tinbergen) an inaugural recipient of the Nobel Prize in economics; he was also an extremely influential academic and player in making economic policy in Norway. Hoff, a classical liberal, writes to Frisch, a socialist, hoping to get him to relent in his agenda of heavy-handed government direction and control. Hoff both pleads with and challenges Frisch, who returns a reply of some length and then finally a brief dismissal, telling Hoff that he has found the exchange “entertaining.” Hoff’s appeal widens out both to real-world political economy considerations and to broad moral and political ramifications.