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Aggregate demand, instability, and growth


  • Steven M. Fazzari

    (Washington University)

  • Pietro E. Ferri

    (University of Bergamo)

  • Edward G. Greenberg

    (Washington University)

  • Anna Maria Variato

    (University of Bergamo)


This paper considers a puzzle in growth theory from a Keynesian perspective. If neither wage and price adjustment nor monetary policy are effective at stimulating demand, no endogenous dynamic process exists to assure that demand grows fast enough to employ a growing labor force. Yet output grows persistently over long periods, occasionally reaching approximate full employment. We resolve this puzzle by invoking Harrod's instability results. Demand grows because it follows an explosive upward path that is ultimately limited by resource constraints. Downward demand instability is contained by introducing an autonomous component to aggregate demand.

Suggested Citation

  • Steven M. Fazzari & Pietro E. Ferri & Edward G. Greenberg & Anna Maria Variato, 2013. "Aggregate demand, instability, and growth," Review of Keynesian Economics, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 1(1), pages 1-21, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:elg:rokejn:v:1:y:2013:i:1:p1-21

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    4. J. A. Kregel, 1980. "Economic Dynamics and the Theory of Steady Growth: An Historical Essay on Harrod's ‘Knife-edge'," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 12(1), pages 97-123, Spring.
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    6. Aghion, Philippe & Banerjee, Abhijit, 2005. "Volatility and Growth," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199248612, June.
    7. Thomas I. Palley, 2008. "Keynesian Models of Deflation and Depression Revisited: Inside Debt and Price Flexibility," Working Papers wp169, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
    8. Anwar Shaikh, 2009. "Economic Policy In A Growth Context: A Classical Synthesis Of Keynes And Harrod," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 60(3), pages 455-494, July.
    9. Peter Skott & Soon Ryoo, 2008. "Macroeconomic implications of financialisation," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 32(6), pages 827-862, November.
    10. Skott,Peter, 2008. "Conflict and Effective Demand in Economic Growth," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521066310, March.
    11. Puu, Tonu & Gardini, Laura & Sushko, Irina, 2005. "A Hicksian multiplier-accelerator model with floor determined by capital stock," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 56(3), pages 331-348, March.
    12. Peter Skott & Ben Zipperer, 2012. "An empirical evaluation of three post-Keynesian models," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 9(2), pages 277-307.
    13. Robert A. Blecker, 2002. "Distribution, Demand and Growth in Neo-Kaleckian Macro-Models," Chapters,in: The Economics of Demand-Led Growth, chapter 8 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    14. Palley, Thomas I., 2008. "Keynesian models of deflation and depression revisited," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 68(1), pages 167-177, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Soon Ryoo, 2016. "Household debt and housing bubbles: a Minskian approach to boom-bust cycles," Journal of Evolutionary Economics, Springer, vol. 26(5), pages 971-1006, December.
    2. Trezzini, Attilio, 2017. "Harrodian Instability: a Misleading Concept," Centro Sraffa Working Papers CSWP24, Centro di Ricerche e Documentazione "Piero Sraffa".
    3. Soon Ryoo & Peter Skott, 2017. "Fiscal and Monetary Policy Rules in an Unstable Economy," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 68(3), pages 500-548, July.
    4. Marc Lavoie, 2016. "Convergence Towards the Normal Rate of Capacity Utilization in Neo-Kaleckian Models: The Role of Non-Capacity Creating Autonomous Expenditures," Metroeconomica, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 67(1), pages 172-201, February.
    5. Florian Botte, 2017. "Estimating normal capacity utilization rates and their tolerable ranges of values: A comment on Setterfield," Post-Print hal-01543643, HAL.
    6. Peter Skott, 2016. "Autonomous demand, Harrodian instability and the supply side," UMASS Amherst Economics Working Papers 2016-16, University of Massachusetts Amherst, Department of Economics.

    More about this item


    economic growth; instability; aggregate demand; floors and ceilings;

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General


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