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One need only speculate on the state of economic knowledge if supply—and—demand analyses were treated as hypotheses, ever subject to testing and rejection. In Kuhn's analysis, the scientific paradigm is abandoned when anomalous research results make it increasingly difficult to maintain the paradigm intact.
Such findings may at first be rejected because they do not fit into orthodox theory, though other reasons may be given. Indeed, the discoverers may find themselves beyond the pale of science precisely because their findings are anomalous.
Eventually, however, the paradigm cannot be maintained in the face of ever—increasing evidence. A new paradigm must be constructed, and since the resources of the profession are devoted to debating paradigms, scientific progress is retarded until a new orthodoxy emerges. If this Kuhnian view is correct, there are two disturbing consequences. First, in the rejection of an established paradigm some knowledge may be lost; all verities in the old paradigm need not necessarily be incorporated into a new paradigm.
Second, a paradigm may be rejected on the basis of anomalous findings although these findings can be made consistent with that paradigm. These insights will be made use of in this book. Work by economists reexamining the so-called Keynes—versus—the—classics debate has led to another debate, one that might be termed the Keynes—and—the—Keynesians debate.
The word revolution implies a radical break with previous tradition. Early work on this revolution dealt with what Keynes was really saying and with how much and where it differed in general terms from what his predecessors had said. An early finding of the original Keynes—versus—the—classics debate was that classical economics had never produced a consistent theory on macro issues.
As a result of these investigations, it can be argued that Keynes not only made no major theoretical contributions but also made no original policy prescriptions.
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- Friedrich August von Hayek (Littérature secondaire en anglais) — Wikiberal.
Leijonhufvud also argued that the innovative aspect of Keynes's work lay elsewhere than in the areas covered in a standard Keynesian work. Keynes was innovative in his broad conception of how a market system operates and how it may break down. Keynes was not the only economist to challenge the orthodoxy of the time, and the General Theory was not the only important work to do so. A major premise of this work is that Hayek was correct in his contention that the ideas that bore fruit in the late depression period were conceived in the boom of the twenties.
I shall reexamine the contribution of Hayek to this period of intense questioning of economic orthodoxy, especially in relation to the problem of the business cycle in a decentralized market economy. Even before Hayek was awarded the Nobel Prize there was a revival of interest in his contributions to economics.
Some credit for this revival belongs to Hicks, though he only examined Hayek's works dealing directly with business cycle theory and erred in ignoring the analysis of the price mechanism as an information—transmitting device in a decentralized market economy.
To Hayek, the price system, by disseminating available Edition: current; Page: [ 5 ] information to market participants at the least cost, tended to make mutually compatible the initially incompatible plans of individual actors in that system. His work forms a unified whole and must be appreciated as such.
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It is impossible to assess adequately Hayek's business cycle theory, as Hicks attempted, without considering his work on the foundations of economic theory and the operation of the price system. Hayek's conception of how the market economy operates is most evident in his theoretical work about prices as transmitters of information. Even the contributors to the recent Festschrift honoring Hayek did not attempt such a reintegration. In presenting an overview of the state of economic theory during the s, it is necessary to contrast the economic theory prevailing in Great Britain and, to some extent, the United States with that on the Continent.
Shackle's description of economics during the s is more applicable to British classical economics as modified by William Stanley Jevons, Alfred Marshall, A. Pigou, and others than it is to Continental economics. The contributions of each were synthesized by Marshall with what was worthwhile in classical economics. For a variety of reasons, the Marshallian system was replaced with the Hicks—Samuelson, neo—Walrasian, general equilibrium approach.
The neo-neoclassical economists were Jevons, Walras, Menger, and their followers. To insist that contemporary orthodox economics is founded on early marginalism is to minimize the influence of Hicks and Paul Samuelson and, by implication, to deny the revolutionary character of Keynes's work. This textbook view of economic thought is not only semantically inaccurate but also errs in claiming to capture the common denominator of the works by Jevons, Walras, and Menger.
In effect the textbook approach emphasizes the conceptual similarities among these economists rather than the areas of disagreement. I maintain that the Marginal Revolution had three distinct phases, each developing along dissimilar lines in the twentieth century. In fact, regardless of one's attitude about the unity of neoclassical economics, it was the Austrian variant that dominated thinking on the Continent during the first half of this century.
Thus Knut Wicksell wrote in I would amend Wicksell by saying that Menger's doctrines spread over the whole non—Anglo—Saxon world.
Throughout the s English economists remained largely ignorant of the Austrian school. Swedish and Austrian economists in particular were doing original research on monetary theory, the business cycle, and dynamic equilibrium analysis. Though there is undeniably a distinctly Austrian contribution, it is easier to specify aspects of this contribution than it is to Edition: current; Page: [ 7 ] determine what differentiated economists of the Austrian school from other economists.
Hicks emphasized their unique contributions to capital theory and also Menger's important insights about the nature of money. To the extent that individual economists compromised the principles of subjectivism and methodological individualism they became less distinctively Austrian.
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Furthermore it has led to the spurious claim that they ignored the mutual interdependence of economic factors. Austrian and Swedish economists, familiar with the work of Menger and his disciples, pioneered the technique of dynamic analysis.
Educated on the Continent, they, unlike their English counterparts, were aware of the Walras—Pareto tradition, and its limitations. In essence, the Swedish and Austrian economists were recasting economic theory so as to focus on the market process , by which disparate plans of individuals are equilibrated, rather than on equilibrium states. He also claimed priority for Myrdal in formulating and effectively employing the ex ante — ex post distinction.
Friedrich August von Hayek (Littérature secondaire en anglais)
Before the s English economists were as ignorant of these later Continental developments as they were of the earlier ones. Hayek thus could say of Keynes's Treatise that it contained nothing new for a Continental economist adding that the presentation was somewhat confusing. Whatever reasons economists may have had for couching their analyses in these terms, the result proved unsatisfactory for coping with the disequilibrium problems that increasingly occupied economists in the post—World War I period. It is to this set of short-run phenomena that I now turn.
Hayek argued that a successful analysis of economic disequilibrium required a reformulation of the concept of equilibrium. He devoted considerable energy to this task. Through the late s and the s he published articles on the price mechanism and the social function of prices in transmitting knowledge. From one viewpoint, these articles are a continuation of the debate about economic calculation in a Socialist economy. From another, these writings, together with his work on economic calculation and on monetary theory, attempt to come to grips on different levels with a single basic problem; for his price theory may be interpreted as an extension of his business cycle theory.
Is it proper to assess Hayek's lifework as the logical development of a single idea? Although much of his work on monetary theory and the business cycle was written before that on price theory, my impression is that he was systematically working out the basic assumptions of his monetary theories in response to criticisms and misunderstandings. Schumpeter's insight that a man's work depends on his total conception of the economic problem is apropos. Among other things, this elucidation may assist in the reformulation of macroeconomics. Prices and Production for complete citations see bibliography at the end of this book was Hayek's first major work in English.
First published in , Prices and Production brought Hayek widespread recognition in England and introduced the Austrian business cycle theory to the British. Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle was not translated and published until , though it appeared in German in Expressing, as it does, Hayek's views on monetary theory in more detail, Monetary Theory and the Trade Cycle should be read before Prices and Production.
Yet English readers did not have access to the earlier work until two years after the publication of Prices and Production. Hayek was a major participant in the Socialist calculation debate and edited a volume on the subject in entitled Collectivist Economic Planning. Concomitantly, he was presenting his monetary, capital, and business cycle theory in journals. These researches on the business cycle and on the Socialist calculation question suggested the need for a firmer foundation for price theory.
1. Price Signals and Spontaneous Order
Hayek believed that the crucial role of prices in resource allocation was not fully appreciated. In a series of articles written between and , he emphasized that prices serve two important functions: They communicate information about the relative scarcity of resources, and under certain assumptions they improve coordination of the plans of transactors. The connection between Hayek's work on the price system and on resource allocation in a centrally planned economy is readily apparent.
The connection that exists between work on monetary theory and on the theory of economic fluctuations may be less clear. However, Hayek saw the business cycle as resulting from the noncorrespondence of plans of savers and investors when important market signals—relative prices—are falsified by previous monetary disturbances. Hayek restated his business cycle theory in Again, this work elucidated the foundations for work that had been published years earlier. In the s Hayek turned his attention to other matters.
He began working in the philosophy of science and the social sciences in general, on political philosophy, and on the theory of perception. Hayek confessed that by the s he had lost interest in monetary theory. This book will end where Hayek's interests changed. It will thus examine only about half of his total output. But to examine that half, we have to read Hayek in logical rather than chronological order.
The proper field of economic study is, in the first instance, the type of relationship into which men spontaneously enter, when they find that they can best further their own purposes by approaching them indirectly Philip H.