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Resources and Economic Dynamics, Technology and Rents

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  • Alberto Quadrio Curzio

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    Abstract

    The essay investigates non producible (natural) resources and rent from three points of views: stylized facts, quantitative economics and economic theory. Taking the first point of view, the author discusses how economic growth can be represented in terms of never-ending tension between scarcity and technical progress. At least since the onset of modern economic growth, whenever scarcity produced a slowdown of growth, technical progress followed and scarcity was thereby removed. Scarcity, in a long-run perspective, has always been of the «relative» type, while absolute scarcity never set in. This essay consider this problem from many points of view. First of all it considers the point of view of quantitative economics like those of Simon Kuznets and Wassily Leontief who emphasized the relative character of scarcity and the importance of keeping the relationship between scarcity and innovation into account (this is especially true of Kuznets). Secondly the essay considers the contribution of economic theory. In this connection, the author points out that both the macroeconomic and multi-sectoral models developed since the 1930s overlooked the investigation of scarce natural resources and rent, as well as their relationship with technical progress. Only Piero Sraffa examined non producible resources and rent but he has done it in a single-period model. The author of this essay investigated the same issues in a more general analytical set-up starting with a contribution published in 1967 followed by many others. Later on, Quadrio Curzio and Pellizzari, especially in the 1996 volume, analyzed the general relationships among production, prices, income distribution, technical progress and growth when scarce resources play a significant role. Those contributions also investigated the nature of technological rents, which are an important feature of modern economic growth in the presence of technical progress. At the same time Quadrio Curzio, in collaboration with Marco Fortis and Roberto Zoboli, analysed historical, quantitative and qualitative aspects of economic dynamics, and the way in which natural resources and raw materials exert an influence on economic growth and more generally economic dynamics. Those aspects are not fully considered in the present essay, but they represent its fundamental background. Finally in 2008 Quadrio Curzio, Pellizzari and Zoboli outlined in a valuable encyclopaedic dictionary a compact synthesis of the above approach to the economic analysis of raw materials and primary commodities. The essay takes a point of view which is not typical of the «post- Keynesian» approach, yet it belongs to a post-classical perspective that is closely connected to the Italian-Cambridge tradition of political economy as a social discipline. Tradition on which Alberto Quadrio Curzio, especially researching with Roberto Scazzieri, focused his attention in many essays from a methodological point of view.

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    Paper provided by Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Centro di Ricerche in Analisi economica e sviluppo economico internazionale (CRANEC) in its series CRANEC - Working Papers del Centro di Ricerche in Analisi economica e sviluppo economico internazionale with number crn1102.

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    Date of creation: 2011
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    Handle: RePEc:crn:wpaper:crn1102

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    Keywords: natural resources; technological innovation; relative scarcity; investments; rent;

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    1. Kurz,Heinz D. & Salvadori,Neri, 1995. "Theory of Production," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521443258, October.
    2. Duchin, Faye & Lange, Glenn-Marie, 1995. "The Future of the Environment: Ecological Economics and Technological Change," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195085747.
    3. Leontief, Wassily, 1977. "The future of the world economy+," Socio-Economic Planning Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 11(3), pages 171-182.
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