Microfoundations Reconsidered

Microfoundations Reconsidered

The Relationship of Micro and Macroeconomics in Historical Perspective

Pedro Garcia Duarte and Gilberto Tadeu Lima

The highly regarded contributors to the book argue that the standard narrative of microfoundations is likely to be unreliable. They therefore re-examine the history of the relationship of microeconomics and macroeconomics, starting from their emergence as self-consciously distinct fields within economics in the early 1930s. They seek to go beyond the conventional history that is often told and written by practicing economists. From different perspectives they challenge the association of microfoundations with Robert Lucas and rational expectations and offer both a more complete and a deeper reading of the relationship between micro and macroeconomics.

Chapter 4: The Cowles Commission as an Anti-Keynesian Stronghold 1943–54

Philip E. Mirowski

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought, radical and feminist economics


Philip E. Mirowski1 Today, it seems, just about anyone can get away with calling themselves a Keynesian, and they do, no matter what salmagundi of doctrinal positions they may hold dear, without fear of ridicule or reproach. Consequently, some of the most extraordinarily absurd things are now being attributed to Keynes and called “Keynesian theories”. For instance, J. Bradford DeLong, a popular blogger and faculty member at Berkeley, has in a (2009) paper divided up the history of macroeconomics into what he identifies as a “Peel–Keynes–Friedman axis” and a “Marx–Hoover–Hayek” axis: clearly he has learned a trick or two from the neoliberals, who sow mass confusion by mixing together oil and water in their salad dressing versions of history. The self-appointed “New Keynesians” of the 1990s (including Gregory Mankiw, David Romer and Michael Woodford) took the name of Keynes in vain by unashamedly asserting a proposition that Keynes himself had repeatedly and expressly rejected, namely that market-clearing models cannot explain short-run economic fluctuations, and so proceeded to advocate models with “sticky” wages and prices (Mankiw, 2006). George Akerlof and Robert Shiller (2009) have taken three sentences from the General Theory out of context and spun it into some banal misrepresentation concerning what Keynes actually wrote about the notion of “animal spirits,” not to mention his actual conception of macroeconomics.2 And we observe contemporary journalists going gaga over Keynes, with almost no underlying substantive justification from the track record of the economics profession: More than three decades...

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