Unemployment, Recession and Effective Demand

Unemployment, Recession and Effective Demand

The Contributions of Marx, Keynes and Kalecki

Claudio Sardoni

In the midst of the current world economic crisis, many claim there is a necessity to return to the Marxian and Keynesian traditions in order to better understand the dynamics of market economies. This book is an important step in that direction. It presents a critical examination of the foundations of macroeconomics as developed in the traditions of Marx, Keynes and Kalecki, which are contrasted with the current mainstream. Particular attention is given to the problem of market forms and their relevance for macroeconomics.

Chapter 7: Kaleckian Macroeconomics: An Outline

Claudio Sardoni

Subjects: economics and finance, history of economic thought, post-keynesian economics


7.1 INTRODUCTION Keynes’s microfoundations have been criticized and his hypotheses of shortperiod increasing marginal costs and decreasing marginal efficiency of capital have been rejected. As a result of this, we obtain an analytical context that is not too different from Marx’s framework: in a freely competitive context, firms would produce and invest at the highest possible rates. This process may come to an end if expected prices and expected rates of profit fall below some crucial minimum values. In this case a general overproduction crisis ensues. This analytical picture may be made more realistic by assuming that firms produce at varying unit costs. Under this additional hypothesis, the economy may temporarily experience underutilization of capacity along with unemployment of labour even without ‘general gluts’. But such an analytical framework does not make it possible to demonstrate that the economy can tend to underemployment equilibria. We are, then, in a rather paradoxical situation. Realism of hypotheses and logical consistency combined take us, so to say, ‘back’ from Keynes to Marx and we lose an important analytical result, that is to say the possibility to show that the economy can experience prolonged states of underutilization of capacity and labour, even though it does not go through significant market perturbations. The solution to this problem can be found by looking at Kalecki’s contribution. In Kalecki’s analytical framework, in fact, we can achieve the result of underemployment equilibria based on more solid microfoundations than Keynes’s. The key factor that allows Kalecki to...

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