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Scratch a Would-Be Planner: Robbins, Neoclassical Economics and the End of Socialism

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  • Brigitte Granville
  • Judith Shapiro

Abstract

Robbins’s central contribution to the debate on market versus plan links with identification of economics as science of how societies handle scarcity, a central contribution of the Essay. This was not a narrow focus on static efficiency; inflation was a key part of Robbins’s conception of (mis)handling scarcity. The irony that transition to the market led to movement away from the market in economics is analysed, highlighting the obscured role of macroeconomics, and questioning a new conventional wisdom that Russia should have followed the Chinese path of gradual and Pareto-improving institutional development. A conclusion is that the demise of the Washington Consensus should not lead to a new dogma: the neoclassical paradigm is not being replaced but extended.

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Paper provided by Queen Mary, University of London, School of Business and Management, Centre for Globalisation Research in its series Working Papers with number 11.

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Date of creation: May 2008
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Handle: RePEc:cgs:wpaper:11

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Keywords: Transition; Lionel Robbins; socialist calculation debate; Russia; inflation;

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  1. Pauline Grosjean & Claudia Senik, 2007. "Should market liberalisation precede democracy? Causal relations between political preferences and development," Working Papers 103, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Office of the Chief Economist.
  2. Peter Murrell, 1991. "Can Neoclassical Economics Underpin the Reform of Centrally Planned Economies?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 5(4), pages 59-76, Fall.
  3. Rudiger Ahrend & William Tompson, 2005. "Fifteen Years of Economic Reform in Russia: What has been Achieved? What Remains to be Done?," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 430, OECD Publishing.
  4. Peter Oppenheimer & Brigitte Granville, 2001. "Russia’s Post-Communist Economy," World Economics, World Economics, Economic & Financial Publishing, 1 Ivory Square, Plantation Wharf, London, United Kingdom, SW11 3UE, vol. 2(1), pages 149-168, January.
  5. Nauro F. Campos & Fabrizio Coricelli, 2002. "Growth in Transition: What We Know, What We Don't, and What We Should," William Davidson Institute Working Papers Series 470, William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan.
  6. Peter Murrell, 2003. "Institutions and Firms in Transition Economies," Electronic Working Papers 03-004, University of Maryland, Department of Economics.
  7. Coase, Ronald H., 1991. "The Institutional Structure of Production," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1991-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
  8. Rudiger Ahrend, 2004. "Accounting for Russia's Post-Crisis Growth," OECD Economics Department Working Papers 404, OECD Publishing.
  9. Rostowski, Jacek, 1998. "Macroeconomic Instability in Post-Communist Countries," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198290483.
  10. North, Douglass C, 1994. "Economic Performance through Time," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 359-68, June.
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