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Essays on a positive theory of economic growth


  • Heng-fu Zou


Departing from the conventional approach to economic growth, these papers collected here tackle the growth problems in capitalist economy, open economy and socialist economy with a novel definition of representative agent's preference: utility is function of both consumption and capital stock (or wealth). As essays one and two demonstrate, this modeling of preference captures the essential of Max Weber's "spirit of capitalism" and John Maynard Keynes¡¯s "psychology of capitalist society". Results derived from this modeling are in striking contrast to the conventional wisdom: different nations with different capitalist spirit tend to have different consumption, capital stock and endogenous rates in the long run; inflation affects steady state capital accumulation, and high inflation may lead to high rate of endogenous growth. Essays three and four extend this approach to the case of open economy. Foreign asset accumulation, foreign direct investment, and domestic fiscal and monetary policies are studies in the light of the new model. Essays five and six justify why we should define socialist planners' objective function in both consumption and capital accumulation. The regular phenomena in socialist economy, such as investment hunger, expansion drive, political investment cycles, and endogenous investment cycles, can be more sensibly understood within this positive framework than with the normative Cass model.

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  • Heng-fu Zou, 2011. "Essays on a positive theory of economic growth," CEMA Working Papers 479, China Economics and Management Academy, Central University of Finance and Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:cuf:wpaper:479

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Romer, Paul M, 1986. "Increasing Returns and Long-run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 94(5), pages 1002-1037, October.
    2. Barro, Robert J., 1992. "Human capital and economic growth," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 199-216.
    3. Gong, Liutang & Zou, Heng-Fu, 2001. "Money, Social Status, and Capital Accumulation in a Cash-in-Advance Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 33(2), pages 284-293, May.
    4. Zou, Heng-fu, 1994. "'The spirit of capitalism' and long-run growth," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 279-293, July.
    5. Gong, Liutang & Zou, Heng-fu, 2002. "Direct preferences for wealth, the risk premium puzzle, growth, and policy effectiveness," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 26(2), pages 247-270, February.
    6. Liutang Gong & Heng‐Fu Zou, 2011. "Public Expenditures, Taxes, Federal Transfers, and Endogenous Growth," Journal of Public Economic Theory, Association for Public Economic Theory, vol. 13(6), pages 973-991, December.
    7. Bakshi, Gurdip S & Chen, Zhiwu, 1996. "The Spirit of Capitalism and Stock-Market Prices," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 133-157, March.
    8. King, Robert G & Rebelo, Sergio, 1990. "Public Policy and Economic Growth: Developing Neoclassical Implications," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(5), pages 126-150, October.
    9. Walter H. Fisher, 2004. "Status Preference, Wealth and Dynamics in the Open Economy," German Economic Review, Verein für Socialpolitik, vol. 5(3), pages 335-355, August.
    10. Fershtman, Chaim & Murphy, Kevin M & Weiss, Yoram, 1996. "Social Status, Education, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 108-132, February.
    11. Gilles Saint-Paul, 1992. "Fiscal Policy in an Endogenous Growth Model," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1243-1259.
    12. Gong, Liutang & Zou, Heng-fu, 2002. "Optimal taxation and intergovernmental transfer in a dynamic model with multiple levels of government," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 26(12), pages 1975-2003, October.
    13. Rebelo, Sergio, 1991. "Long-Run Policy Analysis and Long-Run Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(3), pages 500-521, June.
    14. Fershtman, Chaim & Weiss, Yoram, 1993. "Social Status, Culture and Economic Performance," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 103(419), pages 946-959, July.
    15. Turnovsky, Stephen J. & Fisher, Walter H., 1995. "The composition of government expenditure and its consequences for macroeconomic performance," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(4), pages 747-786, May.
    16. Carlos Garriga-Calvet, 2000. "Optimal Fiscal Policy in Overlapping Generations Models," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 1772, Econometric Society.
    17. Cole, Harold L & Mailath, George J & Postlewaite, Andrew, 1992. "Social Norms, Savings Behavior, and Growth," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1092-1125, December.
    18. Heng-fu Zou, 1995. "The spirit of capitalism and savings behavior," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 28(1), pages 131-143, September.
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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • B24 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Socialist; Marxist; Scraffian
    • E21 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Consumption; Saving; Wealth
    • E22 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics
    • H21 - Public Economics - - Taxation, Subsidies, and Revenue - - - Efficiency; Optimal Taxation


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