Full text: Expansion, Stagnation und Demokratie - 1982 Heft 2 (2)

rate of profit is left hazy. Much remained to be discussed, but the
complacent equilibrium theory was deeply shaken.
After the Second World War, the baton of leadership in teaching
economics, along with leadership in the capitalist world, passed to the
United States. Instead of meeting the challenge of the Keynesian
revolution head on, the profession in America split the subject into two
parts, macro and micro. In the macro section it was permissible to
contemplate fluctuations in employment and even to hint at remedies
for a deficiency in effective demand, while micro theory returned to the
analysis of equilibrium established by the free play of market forces.
Keynesian ideas were allowed a certain sphere of operation while the
central doctrine was safely walled off from them. Professor Heilbroner
(The New Economics, New York Review of Books, February 21, 1980)
describes the result:
"Microeconomics is concerned with aspects of the economy that are
centred in the act of choice, allocation, decision-making. Macro-
economics is devoted to the Performance of the economy as a whole,
especially with regard to employment and Output and inflation. This
seems, on the surface, like a very convenient way of examining the
economy from two different vantage points, micro yielding a worm's
eye view, macro a bird's eye view. But what is stränge is that there is no
way of going from one view to the other. One would think that by
opening up the worm's eye lens one would eventually take in the entire
flow of Output or employment that originates in the „micro" acts of
individuals or firms - but no such comprehensive view emerges, only a
blur. Conversely, it would appear that by closing down the macro lens
we could bring into sharp focus the individual actions that are the
constituent elements of the flow of Output or the rise in prices, but again
no such picture emerges: the macro lens simply cannot distinguish the
individual actors. Thus macro and micro are not the complementary
slides of a stereopticon giving us a Single complete picture from two
incomplete ones. They are, rather, two quite different pictures that
cannot be combined."
The position in what is sometimes called main-line teaching is even
more unsatisfactory than Heilbroner allows, for micro theory in turn is
split into two sections - a theory of exchange and a theory of produc-
tion. Exchange and the relative prices of particular commodites are
treated in terms of auctions of readymade goods, as elaborated by
Walras, while production is treated in terms of "supply curves" derived
from Marshall by Pigou and elaborated by the early Joan Robinson. The
two types of analysis are essentially incompatible because the underly-
ing models have completely different time schemes. In Walrasian
markets prices are varying from day to day to reconcile demand to
supply while, in the Pigovian scheme, prices are governed by costs of
production „in the long run". In the textbook the two theories generally
lie side by side without attempt being made to reconcile them. There is
also a long-period macro theory in terms of"factors of production"; this
has run into trouble over the meaning and measurement of a "quantity
of capital" regared as a "factor".
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