In Memoriam: James Robert Crotty
James Robert Crotty, who served for 36 years in the UMass Amherst economics department, including as chairman, died Jan. 9 at a hospital in Newton while being treated for complications related to Parkinson's Disease.
Crotty, 84, of Hadley, was a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. From 2007 until 2011 he was the first Helen Sheridan Memorial Scholar, presenting that program's debut lecture titled "The Battle over Austerity: What Caused the Financial Crisis and Who Should Pay?" He also was a senior research scholar at the Political Economy Research Institute, an independent unit of the university aimed at focusing the public economics debate on human and ecological welfare.
UMass in 2017 honored Crotty's contributions, as well of those of his wife, Pamela Crotty, with the construction of its first net zero greenhouse emissions building and new home of the economics department, naming it Crotty Hall..
A "macroeconomist' who sought to integrate the analytic strengths of Marxian and Keynesian traditions, Jim's most recent book in 2019, “Keynes Against Capitalism,” was hailed as “a marvel of economic narrative” focused on “the neglected fact that Keynes's Liberal Socialism was far more radical than modern memory would have us think.”
Crotty's resume lists 73 publications and his writings appeared in such diverse journals as the American Economic Review, the Quarterly Journal of Economics, the Cambridge Journal of Economics, the Review of Radical Political Economics, Monthly Review, and the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics. His selected papers were collected in “Capitalism, Macroeconomics and Reality.”
In recent years Crotty focused on investment theory, the global economy, financial markets and the financial crisis, and the political economy of South Korea.
Crotty's former students joke that he was famous for writing comments on their papers that were longer than the papers themselves. “He would give us critiques and comments with a red pen, crossing things over we wrote, adding angry faces or 'smileys' even before they were a thing,” said one, now a professor in Istanbul. “But he probably was the most liked and loved professor at UMass. His writing, teaching, and mentorship transformed many generations of students. His compassion and wit were unique. Especially for people like me who come from working class families, his experience and empathy were particularly important.”
Similarly, they describe his "Macro II" course as remarkable. "He filled in a huge lane for students of all stripes in graduate school," said another, currently a professor at the University of Southern Maine. "We had no other serious, consistent resource to understand the huge and pertinent field, and we were so lucky to have an inspirational, sophisticated, and always funny mentor who equipped us to be well-read and well-schooled in the big issues."
Jim leaves Pamela (McDermott) Crotty, his high school sweetheart and wife of 61 years, and their four children and eight grandchildren: Jamie Calzini and her partner, Ken, of Vermont and her sons Miles and Luke; Thomas Crotty and his wife Tricia of South Hadley and their sons Matthew, Thomas, and Patrick; Alexis Dubiel and her husband Jeff, of California, and their sons Tyler and Connor and daughter Caroline; and Erin Crotty of Hadley.
A celebration of Crotty's life will be held in the spring.
Memorial contributions may be made to The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (donations [at] michaeljfox [dot] org).
This article first appeared on UMass Amherst News & Events.