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Sraffa: the theoretical world of the 'old classical economists'

Listed author(s):
  • Pierangelo Garegnani

Sraffa's mature work is seen here as a re-discovery and resumption of the 'submerged and forgotten' approach of the 'old classical economists from Adam Smith to Ricardo'. Wages determined by broad economic and social forces entail there product prices determined independently of demand and supply functions. Some main questions raised for the modern economists by this radical reorientation of economic theory are then considered in order to conclude that it is aginst that background that Sraffa's mature work should be set with its three main contributions, of a rediscovery of the approach, of a complete and transparent solution of the problems of price determination it raises, and of its application to the critique of neoclassical theory. Among several developments originating from Sraffa's seminal work, two are singled out for mention: (i) the possibility of deficiencies of aggregate demand in the long period no less than in the short one; this follows naturally from the abandonment of the neoclassical theory of distribution, of which the role of the interset rate in equilibrating savings and investment is a corollary; (ii) the question of the distribution of the surplus between wages and profits in a modern economy where wages are no longer confined to subsistence.

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Article provided by Taylor & Francis Journals in its journal The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought.

Volume (Year): 5 (1998)
Issue (Month): 3 ()
Pages: 415-429

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Handle: RePEc:taf:eujhet:v:5:y:1998:i:3:p:415-429
DOI: 10.1080/10427719800000043
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