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Edward Hastings Chamberlin, a great innovator in economic theory,has been badly served by his “followers”, who have“blanked” and “distorted” his message. Today itis the…
Edward Hastings Chamberlin, a great innovator in economic theory, has been badly served by his “followers”, who have “blanked” and “distorted” his message. Today it is the Chicago critics of monopolistic competition, not his self‐appointed followers at Harvard, who are developing an economics of industrial organisation that more nearly captures the spirit of Chamberlin′s work. Chamberlin′s central insight was that quality dimensions and other means of product differentiation are essential elements (in addition to nominal prices) in the analysis of how economic markets actually work. Although Chamberlin initially tried to fit his theory into the conventional mould of Marshallian economics, with predictably unsatisfactory results, this should not be allowed to obscure the novelty and robustness of his contribution.
A review essay on Kenneth E. Carpenter’s, The Dissemination of the Wealth of Nations in French and in France, 1776–1843. Published for The Bibliographical Society of…
A review essay on Kenneth E. Carpenter’s, The Dissemination of the Wealth of Nations in French and in France, 1776–1843. Published for The Bibliographical Society of America. New Castle, DE: Oak Knoll Press, 2003. Pp. LXIII, 255. $45.00. The Wealth of Nations is bipolar work: on the one hand it is an important philosophical treatise; on the other, it is the founding text of the discipline of economics. This characteristic gives it a unique place among the “great books” of western culture. How did a book, written over two centuries ago by a pedantic, idiosyncratic college professor come to achieve this lofty status? Although nowhere explicitly stated by the author of the work under review, this question serves as a lightning rod for his bibliographic efforts. The focus bestowed on France is justified because the reception of The Wealth of Nations (hereafter, WN) in France mirrored, in most important aspects, its reception throughout Europe. Nevertheless, the opaqueness of this book’s title masks its most fascinating feature, namely, the manner in which Carpenter unfolds the complicated answer to this central question.
The theory of monopoly price was originally formulated by Carl Menger at the inception of the marginalist revolution in 1871 and represented the dominant theoretical…
The theory of monopoly price was originally formulated by Carl Menger at the inception of the marginalist revolution in 1871 and represented the dominant theoretical approach to monopoly until the 1930s. Despite its impeccable doctrinal pedigree and lengthy dominance, the theory abruptly disappeared from the mainstream neoclassical literature after the Monopolistic Competition Revolution, to be revived and reformulated after World War II by Ludwig von Mises. The present paper describes the theory as it was offered in its most sophisticated pre‐war form by American economist Vernon A. Mund, who published an unjustifiably neglected volume on monopoly theory that appeared in the same year as the classic works by Joan Robinson and Edward Chamberlain. This paper then attempts to draw out the critical implications of Mund’s formulation of the theory for the current neoclassical orthodoxy in monopoly and competition theory, including the elasticity of demand curves facing individual producers under competition, the time perspectives that are most relevant in analyzing the pricing process, the proper role of long‐run equilibrium in this analysis, and the misapplication of the marginal revenue and marginal cost concepts. Finally, the paper suggests a number of reasons why the theory was swept aside in the aftermath of the Chamberlain/Robinson Revolution with almost no resistance from its most prominent exponents.