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Unemployment as a Disequilibrium Phenomenon: the economics of Keynes and how to go ahead from Patinkin, Leijonhufvud and Hicks

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  • Mario Amendola

    (Università di Roma La Sapienza)

  • Jean-Luc Gaffard

    ()
    (Observatoire Français des Conjonctures Économiques)

Abstract

Keynes' theory can be interpreted as dealing with unemployment as a disequilibrium phenomenon in an essentially dynamic context. In this perspective, it is much more important to explain why unemployment changes than to identify a presumed level of equilibrium for this variable. Patinkin, an artisan of the so-called neo-classical synthesis, had the same intuition when maintaining that price and wage flexibility is not a cure for unemployment, and hence there is no unemployment equilibrium. However, two essential aspects of a thorough sequential analysis are missing in both authors: co-ordination failures and time. Leijonhufvud takes co-ordination failures due to imperfect knowledge into account by focussing on financial markets incapable of providing for the consistency of long-term production and consumption plans. The time dimension in the real side of the economy is introduced by Hicks who maintains that productive capacity must be built up before being used, and hence, by fossilising past events, appears as a factor of propagation of disequilibria. Coupling this time dimension of production with the imperfect knowledge that engenders co-ordination issues allows building-up a true dynamic analysis, which appears as the prolongation or the complement of Keynes' analysis. Within such an analytical framework, it becomes evident, that a fall not only in money wages but also in real wages, far from re-establishing full employment, is a source of global instability and threats the viability of the economy. And above all, it becomes evident that understanding the role of money and financial behaviours is essential for explaining the ongoing crisis as the previous ones.

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Paper provided by Observatoire Francais des Conjonctures Economiques (OFCE) in its series Documents de Travail de l'OFCE with number 2010-24.

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Date of creation: Oct 2010
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Handle: RePEc:fce:doctra:1024

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Keywords: co-ordination; disequilibrium; money; production; time; unemployment; wage;

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  1. Mario Amendola & Jean-Luc Gaffard & Francesco Saraceno, 2004. "Wage Flexibility and Unemployment: The Keynesian Perspective Revisited," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 51(5), pages 654-674, November.
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