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Comparative Analysis of the Course of Business Cycles and Thermodynamic Cycles

  • Julia Wlodarczyk

    (University of Economics in Katowice, Poland)

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    Mainstream economics tends to perceive economic systems in a mechanistic way, which makes it impossible to grasp the notion of the irreversibility of real economic processes and thus encourages referring to the achievements of thermodynamics. Although economic equivalents of thermodynamic quantities have been discussed for more than a hundred years, a significant development of thermodynamic techniques of modeling economic phenomena, that could complement standard econometric methods, has not been observed. It seems that a comparative analysis of the course of thermodynamic and business cycles could enhance the understanding of the mechanisms underlying business cycles, especially in the context of mutual relations between economy and its environment. The aim of this article is to discuss some similarities and differences between economic and thermodynamic systems (heat engines and heat pumps). In particular, the problem of performing positive or negative work by an economy is considered and illustrated by the analysis of statistical data referring to the American and Polish economies.

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    Article provided by Uniwersytet Mikolaja Kopernika in its journal Equilibrium. Quarterly Journal of Economics and Economic Policy.

    Volume (Year): 6, Issue 1 (2011)
    Issue (Month): ()
    Pages: 128-139

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    Handle: RePEc:cpn:umkequ:2011:v1:7
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    1. Samuelson, Paul A., 1970. "Maximum Principles in Analytical Economics," Nobel Prize in Economics documents 1970-1, Nobel Prize Committee.
    2. John Bryant, 1982. "A Thermodynamic Approach to Economics," Working Papers te1982, Economic Consultancy, Vocat International.
    3. Adrian Dragulescu & Victor M. Yakovenko, 2000. "Statistical mechanics of money," Papers cond-mat/0001432,, revised Aug 2000.
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