This month the magazine Central Banking gave a lifetime achievement award to Charles Goodhart, 84, a creative and prolific theorist of monetary policy who has spent most of his career at the Bank of England and the London School of Economics. Last year he and Manoj Pradhan came out with a well-received book called The Great Demographic Reversal: Ageing Societies, Waning Inequality, and an Inflation Revival.
But never mind all that. In years to come, Goodhart may be best remembered for something he said at a conference in Sydney, Australia, in 1975 that he later admitted “was intended as a humorous, throw-away line.” Humorous, yes, but also perceptive. His observation is cited regularly today in fields ranging from banking to medicine to artificial intelligence because it says something important about how the modern world functions.