Must-Read: Kenneth Arrow: Samuelson Collected

Must-Read: Kenneth Arrow: Samuelson Collected: “Samuelson has not addressed… the relation between microeconomics and macroeconomics…

…Neoclassical microeconomic equilibrium with fully flexible prices presents a beautiful picture of the mutual articulations of a complex structure, full employment being one of its major elements. What is the relation between this world and either the real world?… If the neoclassical model with full price flexibility were sufficiently unrealistic that stable unemployment equilibrium be possible, then in all likelihood the bulk of the theorems derived by Samuelson, myself, and everyone else from the neoclassical assumptions are also contrafactual. The problem is not resolved by what Samuelson has called “the neoclassical synthesis,” in which it is held that the achievement of full employment requires Keynesian intervention but that neoclassical theory is valid when full employment is reached….

Dramatic historical episodes–most recently the reconversion of the United States from World War II and the postwar European recovery–suggest that an economic mechanism exists which is capable of adaptation to radical shifts in demand and supply conditions. On the other hand, the Great Depression and the problems of developing countries remind us dramatically that something beyond, but including, neoclassical theory is needed…

September 22, 2015

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