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Department of Economic History, Stockholm University Stockholm Papers in Economic History
Department of Economic History, Stockholm University

No 2:
A hidden duel: Gunnar Myrdal and Dag Hammarskjöld in Economics and International Politics 1935-1955

Örjan Appelqvist ()

Abstract: Characterizes conflict and cooperation in the intertwined careers of Gunnar Myrdal and Dag Hammarskjöld as economists, actors in Swedish policy 1940-1947 and international civil servants, Myrdal being Executive Secretary of the UN ECE 1947-1957 and Hammarskjöld being General Secretary of the UN 1951-1961. In economics the difference between dynamic and neoclassical approaches are noted. It contrasts Myrdal’s very early formulation of growth oriented financial policy with the very lasting refusal of counter-cyclical policies of the Swedish government under the influence of Hammarskjöld. In regard to official US postwar policies their differences are highlighted from the pre-cold war period as well as from the early fifties, Myrdal defending a ‘universalist’ position trying to defend the ECE against power policy intrusion whereas Hammarskjöld wanted to ‘proceed with caution’ in regard to what he considered to be ‘a friendly government’.

Their differences are traced to personal backgrounds while at the same time expressing principal dilemmas facing civil servants in international organisations in a political climate of strong tensions between national interests.

Keywords: Swedish economic policy; history of economic ideas; intellectual history of United Nations; Gunnar Myrdal; Dag Hammarskjöld; (follow links to similar papers)

JEL-Codes: B25; B31; (follow links to similar papers)

26 pages, December 27, 2008

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