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General Equilibrium Theory behind the Iron Curtain: The Case of Victor Polterovich

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  • Ivan Boldyrev
  • Olessia Kirtchik

Abstract

In this article we address the story of developments in general equilibrium theory in the Soviet Union during the 1970s through the lens of a single biography. The Soviet advances in mathematical economics give an occasion to reflect on the extension of the Walrasian paradigm to nonmarket societies, as well as on the ideological effects of general equilibrium theory and its interpretations in a Soviet context. Our contribution is focused on the development of general equilibrium theorizing in the work of Victor Meerovich Polterovich (b. 1937), who has been one of the leading figures in mathematical economics and general equilibrium theory in the Soviet Union and post-Soviet Russia. His papers on the abstract models of exchange, dynamic general equilibrium and optimal growth theory, excess demand correspondences, monotonicity of demand functions, and disequilibrium theory were for the most part published in English and gained considerable attention within the field. We reconstruct the political and ideological basis of the general equilibrium concept and show how abstract mathematical models reflected the discursive shift from optimal centralized planning to various forms of decentralization. We argue that the Soviet work on general equilibrium was a part of the global development of mathematical economics but was not integrated into it institutionally.

Suggested Citation

  • Ivan Boldyrev & Olessia Kirtchik, 2014. "General Equilibrium Theory behind the Iron Curtain: The Case of Victor Polterovich," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 46(3), pages 435-461, Fall.
  • Handle: RePEc:hop:hopeec:v:46:y:2014:i:3:p:435-461
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dana, Rose-Anne, 1995. "An extension of Milleron, Mitjushin and Polterovich's result," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 259-269.
    2. Mirowski,Philip, 2002. "Machine Dreams," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521772839, Fall.
    3. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
    4. Mirowski,Philip, 2002. "Machine Dreams," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521775267, Fall.
    5. Polterovich, V M, 1983. "Equilibrium Trajectories of Economic Growth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(3), pages 693-729, May.
    6. Jean-Pascal Benassy, 1975. "Neo-Keynesian Disequilibrium Theory in a Monetary Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 42(4), pages 503-523.
    7. Hands, D. Wade, 1985. "The Structuralist View of Economic Theories: A Review Essay: The Case of General Equilibrium in Particular," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 303-335, October.
    8. Dreze, Jacques H, 1975. "Existence of an Exchange Equilibrium under Price Rigidities," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 16(2), pages 301-320, June.
    9. Polterovich, Victor, 1970. "Об Одной Модели Перераспределения Ресурсов
      [A Model of Resource Redistribution]
      ," MPRA Paper 22205, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. John K.H. Quah, 2003. "The Law of Demand and Risk Aversion," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(2), pages 713-721, March.
    11. Bewley, Truman, 1982. "An integration of equilibrium theory and turnpike theory," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2-3), pages 233-267, September.
    12. Polterovich, Victor, 2007. "Стратегии Институциональных Реформ, Или Искусство Реформ
      [Institutional Reform Strategies or Art of Reforms]
      ," MPRA Paper 22751, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 2007.
    13. Amir, Rabah & Evstigneev, Igor, 1999. "Stochastic Version Of Polterovich'S Model: Exponential Turnpike Theorems For Equilibrium Paths," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 3(02), pages 149-166, June.
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      [Economic Equilibrium and the Optimum]
      ," MPRA Paper 22359, University Library of Munich, Germany.
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    Cited by:

    1. Libman, Alexander & Zweynert, Joachim, 2014. "Ceremonial science: The state of Russian economics seen through the lens of the work of ‘Doctor of Science’ candidates," Economic Systems, Elsevier, vol. 38(3), pages 360-378.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Victor Polterovich; general equilibrium theory; Soviet Union;

    JEL classification:

    • B16 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought through 1925 - - - Quantitative and Mathematical
    • B21 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Microeconomics
    • B23 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Econometrics; Quantitative and Mathematical Studies
    • B31 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - Individuals

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