[I]n the late 1920’s and early 1930’s…. There were lots of deep thoughts [in economics], but a lack of quantitative results. … It is usually not of very great practical or even scientific interest to know whether the [causal] influence [of some factor] is positive or negative, if one does not know anything about the strength.
But much worse is the situation when an [outcome] is determined by many different factors at the same time, some factors working in one direction, others in the opposite directions. One could write long papers about so-called tendencies explaining how this … might work…. But what is the … total net effect of all the factors? This question cannot be answered without measures of … strength….