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Ignorant Speculation Immoral Risks: Macheaths, Turpins and the Commercial Classes in Nineteenth-Century Theories of Economic Fluctuations

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  • Peart, Sandra J

Abstract

This paper demonstrates that the 'inappropriate actions' explanation of fluctuations, whereby expectations figure prominently, originates in the nineteenth century. Explanations of fluctuations were framed in the context of policy implications: if fluctuations were due to 'natural' causes, policy would be ineffective at mitigating their effects. Yet there was a role for policy in the form of education to reduce ignorant speculation. A second issue that resonates in contemporary analysis is the question of how theories of fluctuations, based on 'mistakes,' were reconciled with microeconomic analysis presuming correct decision-making. Correct intertemporal decision-making was seen as an acquired habit to be learned through 'proper' education. Copyright 1996 by Blackwell Publishers Ltd and The Victoria University of Manchester

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  • Peart, Sandra J, 1996. "Ignorant Speculation Immoral Risks: Macheaths, Turpins and the Commercial Classes in Nineteenth-Century Theories of Economic Fluctuations," The Manchester School of Economic & Social Studies, University of Manchester, vol. 64(2), pages 135-152, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:manch2:v:64:y:1996:i:2:p:135-52
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