Table of contents(15 chapters)
Part I: Essays
This paper discusses the American debate over price controls and economic stabilization after World War II, when the transition from a war economy to a peace economy was characterized by bottlenecks in the productive system and shortages of food and other basic consumer goods, directly affecting the living standard of the population, the public opinion, and political discourse. Specifically, we will focus on the economist Franco Modigliani and his proposal for a “Plan to meet the problem of rising meat and other food prices without bureaucratic controls.” The plan prepared by Modigliani in October 1947 was based on a system of taxes and subsidies to foster a proper distribution of disposable income and warrant a minimum meat consumption for each individual without encroaching market mechanisms and consumers’ freedom. We will discuss the contents of the plan and its further refinements, and the reactions it prompted from fellow economists, the public opinion, and the political world. Although the Plan was not eventually implemented, it was an important initiative for several reasons: first, it showed the increasing importance of fiscal policy among postwar government tools of intervention in the economic sphere; second, it showed a third way between direct government intervention and full-fledged laissez faire, in tune with the postwar political climate; third, it proposed a Keynesian macroeconomic approach to price and income stabilization, strongly based on econometric and microeconomic foundations. The Meat Plan was thus a fundamental step in Modigliani’s effort to build the “neoclassical synthesis” between Keynesian and Neoclassical economics, which would deeply influence his own career and the evolution of academic studies and government practices in the United States.
The question of whether, and to what extent, Chicago price theory is Marshallian is a large one, with many aspects. The theory of individual behavior is one of these, and the treatment of altruism, or, more generally, other-regarding behavior, falls within this domain. This chapter explores the analysis of other-regarding behavior in the work of Alfred Marshall and Gary Becker with a view to drawing out the similarities and differences in their respective approaches. What emerges is sense that we find in Becker’s work important commonalities with Marshall but also significant points of departure and that the line from Marshall to modern Chicago is neither as direct as it is sometimes portrayed, nor as faint as it is sometimes claimed by Chicago critics.
This paper argues that since the utility function representation of the individual is derived from standard rationality theory, the view that rationality is bounded implies that individuality should be seen to be bounded as well. The meaning of this idea is developed in terms of two ways in which individuality is bounded, with one bound associated with bounded rationality in Kahneman and Tversky’s prospect theory and another bound associated with bounded rationality in Simon’s thinking. The two bounds on individuality are argued to be employed in agent-based modeling and social identity theory. How bounded individuality might be formally modeled is illustrated in an account of Kirman’s Marseille fish market analysis.
This paper is an initial attempt to discuss the American institutionalist movement as it changed and developed after 1945. Institutionalism in the inter-war period was a relatively coherent movement held together by a set of general methodological, theoretical, and ideological commitments (Rutherford, 2011). Although institutionalism always had its critics, it came under increased attack in the 1940s, and faced challenges from Keynesian economics, a revived neoclassicism, econometrics, and from new methodological approaches derived from various versions of positivism. The institutionalist response to these criticisms, and particularly the criticism that institutionalism “lacked theory,” is to be found in a variety of attempts to redefine institutionalism in new theoretical or methodological terms. Perhaps the most important of these is to be found in Clarence Ayres’ The Theory of Economic Progress (1944), although there were many others. These developments were accompanied by a significant amount of debate, disagreement, and uncertainty over future directions. Some of this is reflected in the early history of The Association for Evolutionary Economics.
The modern concept of labor hoarding emerged in early 1960s, and soon became a standard part of mainstream economists’ explanation of the working of labor markets. The concept represents the convergence of three important elements: an empirical finding that labor productivity was procyclical; a framing of this finding as a “puzzle” or anomaly for the basic neoclassical theory of the firm, and a proposed resolution of the puzzle based on optimizing behavior of the firm in the presence of costs of hiring, firing, and training workers. This paper recounts the history of each of these elements, and how they were woven together into the labor hoarding concept. Each history involves people associated with various research traditions and motivated by an array of questions, many of which were unrelated to the questions that the modern labor hoarding concept was ultimately created to address.
Although the global economic crisis that began in 2007 has renewed interest in Keynes among the wider educated public, graduate courses in macroeconomics usually teach little about Keynes and the issues he analyzed, and what little they teach is often wrong (e.g., that Keynes assumed an arbitrarily fixed money wage rate or that he ignored expectations). Consequently, as macroeconomists turn their attention to the possibility, causes and consequences of financial crises and global depression, they do not have access to the insights into these questions produced by earlier generations of economists. The time and attention constraints of theory courses do not allow simply directing the students to the extensive scholarly literature on the economics of Keynes, so this paper offers a suggested introduction to the economics of Keynes for a graduate course in macroeconomics.
This paper compares the contexts of the writing of T. R. Malthus’s first edition of An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798); its reception by William Godwin, to whom the Essay was addressed; its interpretation by naturalists Charles Darwin and Alfred Russell Wallace; and its interpretation by modern commentators Kenneth Boulding and A. M. C. Waterman. The analysis helps explain how an essay that was written to defend social and economic institutions from critiques in utopian visions associated with the French Revolution came to be regarded as a model predicting overpopulation and exhaustion of natural resources.
Part II: From the Vault
This note presents new archival evidence about John Maynard Keynes’ attitudes toward Jews. The relevant material is composed of two letters sent by Robert G. Wertheimer to Bertrand Russell and Richard F. Kahn along with their replies. Between 1963 and 1964, Wertheimer – an Austrian-born Jewish immigrant then professor of economics at Babson College – wrote to Russell and Kahn asking for their personal reminiscences concerning Keynes’ anti-Semitic utterances. In their brief but still significant responses, both Russell and Kahn firmly denied any hint of anti-Semitism in Keynes, thereby providing significant first-hand testimonies from two of his closest acquaintances.
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- Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology
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- Emerald Publishing Limited
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