My first job after grad school was as a Research Fellow at King’s College, Cambridge.  It was then that I first came across Wynne Godley.  I was an undergraduate at St. John’s almost a decade earlier but I do not have any memory of him from that time.  Wynne is a little like my imagined Lord Emsworth from the P G Wodehouse Blandings novels.  Wynne was famous or infamous, depending on your point of view.  Many rumours circulated about him and I will repeat some of them here.

My favorite is that the character of Tigger in Winnie the Pooh is based on Wynne Godley.  It is claimed that Wynne went to school with Christopher Robin Milne.  A A Milne is meant to have encountered him there and seen a little Tigger in his soul. Unfortunately, I don’t think this one is true because Wynne went to Rugby and Milne went to Stowe.  Also, the Wynne I met was more like Eeyore than Tigger.  I could be remembering the original story incorrectly and perhaps it is Eeyore that Milne saw in Godley.  Anyway, I dearly, dearly hope this story is true.  If not, let’s repeat it anyway so future generations believe it.

A second story  is that the statue of St Michael outside Coventry Cathedral is based on Wynne Godley.  Wynne was quite good-looking in his younger days.  It is true that Godley married, Kitty,  one of the daughters of Jacob Epstein, the sculptor.  Epstein is responsible for the statue in question.  And you can find the odd informed person to support this story.

The third and final story links it all back to Roubini.  My Kevin Bacon number with respect to Roubini is two and I did meet him in person about ten years ago.  I can report that he used to be a little bit Tigger-like himself. His current Dr Doom incarnation is more Eeyore-like.  Jeff pointed out this  story which suggests he still has a little tiger in him.  The main connection between Godley and Roubini is macroeconomic forecasting.  Godley spent his career trying to develop a macroeconomic forecasting model in the style of Lawrence Klein but built on old Keynesian ideas.  Eventually, he had a column in some British weekly magazine (the New Statesman?).  All of his forecasts were gloomy and he was often wrong.  But there was a point where Godley’s model predicted slump, other models predicted boom and there was an actual slump!  His name was made.  When I met him, we was one of the “Six Wise Men” advising H.M. Treasury  on their forecast.  The Treasury was under attack because its forecasts were so often wrong.  So, in a brilliant move they appointed six critics who had their own crazy forecasts.  This allowed them to show how often these critics were wrong and the Treasury was right.  Obama should do something like this.  Get the guy from the Club for Growth, Mankiw, Roubini, Krugman, someone from Cato etc to join some official forecasting group. Have them nail their colors to the mast and screw up.

Let’s face it, this is not really a blog entry about forecasting but about a certain type f academic.  I am impressed by what Roubini has built for himself and all the other successful econo-bloggers too.  But they and I all lack the flair of a Wynne Godley.  No “top five” publications to his name but quite a life.  I think it”s possible to have both.  Creativity certainly helps in doing top-shelf research.  And I’m going to pretend to be Tigger for the rest of the day and try to get rid of my natural Eeyore.