Full text: Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft - 2012 Heft 1 (1)

Keynesian or Post-Keynesian
Macroeconomics?
Review of: Eckhart Hein, Engelbert
Stockhammer (eds.), A Modern Guide to
Keynesian Macroeconomics and Econo-
mic Policies, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham
2011, pp. xxii + 365, hardback, ?95.
This volume has its origin in a series
of summer schools held in Berlin. The
thirteen essays focus on the following
elements in Keynesian/Post-Keynes-
ian macroeconomic theory and policy
(the number of essays in which each
element is prominent is in brackets):
history and method of the approach
(1), money and finance (4), the interna-
tional dimension (4), the New Consen-
sus (2), institutions (3), growth (3), dis-
tribution (3), labour (2). The tally ex-
ceeds thirteen because most of the
chapters fall into more than one cate-
gory, but this list may give a feeling for
the scope of the book. Policy is left out
because it comes in to most of the arti-
cles.
Interesting, for me, is the emphasis
on distribution, normally an underde-
veloped area in the Keynesian/Post-
Keynesian camp. This is linked to a
theme which recurs and seems to unite
the research programmes of several of
the authors, namely the contrast be-
tween an economy whose growth is
“wage-led” and one which is “profit-
led”. There are several allusions to this
contrast, though the underlying con-
cepts and criteria of definition are un-
der- explained. A chapter devoted to
them would have been helpful.
The essays deal with functional dis-
tribution. There is growing awareness
in the real world that the wage earner
has lost ground over the last thirty
years, though the headlines have been
taken by the distribution by size of indi-
vidual incomes, as the current “Oc-
cupy” protests on behalf of “the 99 per
cent” testifies. It would be of great inter-
est to know what light Post-Keynesian
economics can shed on the trend in
personal income distribution since the
1970s.
Three chapters are concerned with
the influence of institutions on out-
comes, a feature again very welcome.
Of the four concerned with finance,
only one deals head-on with the crisis
that began in 2007, though the essay
on Financial Architecture also includes
a section on it. This is somewhat sur-
prising, because, although the annual
summer schools that inspired the es-
says began before 2008, the crisis
must have been well underway by the
time these essays were collected
and/or commissioned. The absence of
a stronger emphasis on the relevance
of Post-Keynesian economics to this
upheaval gives an overall impression
of intellectual tranquillity and settled
methods and models amongst Keynes-
ian/Post-Keynesian practitioners,
which I think slightly misleading. The
emphasis on growth models is also
surprising, at a time when the limits to
growth are so much in evidence in the
world and in debate.
The brief seems to have been to give
an overview of the subject, rather than
to break new ground. This is entirely
appropriate for a Guide, and all the es-
says of the overview type are extensive
in their coverage of the literature and
clearly written. In addition there are two
detailed, searing critiques by Phillip
Arestis, one of the New Consensus
and one of EU economic policies.
There are some original contributions
154
Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft 37. Jahrgang (2011), Heft 4
        

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