JK Galbraith, liberal economist, dies at 97

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The Independent US

John Kenneth Galbraith, probably the most famous left-wing economist of his age and author of The Affluent Society, has died.

Galbraith, adviser of Democratic presidents from Roosevelt to Johnson and a professor emeritus at Harvard University, died on Saturday in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He was 97.

The Chancellor Gordon Brown was among those who paid tribute, saying he was a "brilliant economist and writer and a great friend of the United Kingdom".

The economist, who was born in Canada, was often at odds with the mainstream ideas of the day but this was something he appeared to relish. In his most famous work, 1958's The Affluent Society, which became a bestseller, he argued that the US had become rich in consumer goods but poor in social services.

He never lost his liberal beliefs, writing in 1992: "There is no hope for liberals if they seek only to imitate conservatives, and no function either."

In a 2002 interview with The Independent he argued that modern corporations had become so complex it was impossible to hold them to sufficient scrutiny. He was speaking just as the full implications of the Enron collapse were becoming clear.

An early opponent of the Vietnam War and outspoken critic of supply-side economics, which dominated the 1980s, Mr Galbraith was heavily influenced by British economist John Maynard Keynes, who advocated government spending to reduce unemployment.

He often described himself as an "evangelical Keynesian" and supported a shorter working week, women's rights and an international body to help victims of man-made disasters.

Mr Galbraith was admitted to Mount Auburn Hospital two weeks ago. He died of natural causes.