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John Kenneth Galbraith, Warburg professor of economics emeritus and one of the most prominent economists of the twentieth century, celebrated his ninetieth birthday yesterday with a cocktail party held at the ARCO Forum.
The numerous guests, who included Gloria Steinem, Michael S. Dukakis '60, William F. Buckley, and John F. Kennedy, Jr., lined up and crowded around Galbraith hoping to have their pictures taken with the professor.
Among Galbraith's many accomplishments was his service as price czar under President Roosevelt during the great depression. In this capacity, Galbraith was a principal architect of the New Deal, an economic relief effort that called for increased government spending to stimulate the economy and narrow the gap between rich and poor.
A prolific author, Galbraith has written numerous works of fiction and non-fiction, including what many consider to be the definitive study of the 1929 economic crash.
At the party, Senator Edward M. Kennedy '54-56 lauded Galbraith's ability to "put a human face on economic issues."
Galbraith has made news in recent days for predicting that the United States is heading into a recession due to a "speculative bubble." He has said that U.S. markets are "very vulnerable right now. Not only the stock market but also the hedge funds and mutual funds."
Showing his trademark concern for the group he terms "the innocent"--those not directly active in high-stakes market trading--Galbraith also made it clear that he is "not adverse to a correction, so long as it punishes those most responsible for the preceding idiocy."
"The most important thing is that the innocent people not be punished," Galbraith said.
Described as a "national treasure" by Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine, who has also said "there are few others who have served Harvard so well for so long, and with such wisdom, originality, and style," Galbraith has not limited his activities to pure economics.
Galbraith, who was among the tallest men in the room, seemed to cast an impressive presence over the party. He spent much of the time surrounded by a wall of Kennedys and other notables throughout the event--a reception that seemed fit for a "national treasure."
Among his other activities has been service as the U.S. Ambassador to India from 1961-1963. Galbraith also served on the National Defense Advisory Commission and as Director of the Strategic Bombing Survey.
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