Wynne Godley (2 September 1926 – 13 May 2010) was a British heterodox economist famous for his pessimism toward the British economic situation and his attacks on the government.
Born in London, he went to Rugby School as a child, then read politics, philosophy and economics at New College, Oxford where Isaiah Berlin was one of his tutors, and trained to become a professional musician, studying at the Paris Conservatoire for three years, and then becoming principal oboist at the BBC Welsh Orchestra. He was however continuously nervous about performing in public, and gave up this career, although he remained interested in music and was director of the Royal Opera from 1976 to 1987.
In 1955 he married Kitty Epstein, daughter of Jacob Epstein the sculptor, who used his head as the model for his statue of St Michael at the rebuilt Coventry Cathedral.
After his musical career ended he became an Economist at the Metal Box company, and then from 1956 to 1970 he worked at the Treasury where he worked in macroeconomic policy issues and short term forecasting, bridging economic and policy issues, including the 1967 devaluation of the pound under Harold Wilson.
While at the Treasury he met Nicholas Kaldor, who persuaded him to move to Cambridge University where he became a fellow of Kings College and director of the department of applied economics, although he continued to work as a government economic advisor at times, and was appointed as one of Norman Lamont's 'six wise men' external economic advisors after Black Wednesday.
He predicted that the 1973-74 economic boom would end, and that unemployment would hit 3 million in the 1980s, a prediction that gained him the nickname of 'the Cassandra of the Fens'. His contributions to Treasury policy thinking over the years were acknowledged by Dave Ramsden, chief economic advisor to the treasury "In the 2000s, much of which coincided with a period of apparent and widely researched stability, what stands out is his distinctive analysis and his prescience about the looming financial and economic crisis, and the potential role for what had become by then innovative policies in responding."
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