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


  • Peart, Sandra J


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

Suggested Citation

  • 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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