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The Genesis of Samuelson and Solow's Price-Inflation Phillips Curve

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  • Kevin D. Hoover

Abstract

Samuelson and Solow in their 1960 paper in the American Economic Review: Papers and Proceedings were among the first economists to engage with Phillips’ famous unemployment/wage-inflation analysis, now referred to as the Phillips curve. They addressed the question of the relevance of Phillips’s analysis for the United Kingdom to the United States, and in process formulated the firstunemployment/price-inflation version of the Phillips curve and were the first to interpret the Phillips curve as a menu for policy. Their paper was an informal analysis presented at a conference. The current paper offers a careful reconstruction and assessment of their original formulation, documenting the close relationship between the wage-inflation and price-inflation versions of the Phillips curve. A recent paper of Hall and Hart (2012) that suggests, first, that Samuelson and Solow should have reached different conclusions about the price-Phillips curve on the basis of regression estimates of their own data and, second, that had they done so the “inflationist” course of U.S. macroeconomic policy in the 1960s and 1970s would have been different. With the reconstruction as a background, the current paper demonstrates that Hall and Hart have not grasped the key details of Samuelson and Solow’s analysis, and that they ignore the actual context of the paper, so that neither of their suggestions is likely: Samuelson and Solow would have no reason to reach any different conclusion based on Hall and Hart’s estimates, and the course of macroeconomic policy is unlikely to have been affected in any case.

Suggested Citation

  • Kevin D. Hoover, 2014. "The Genesis of Samuelson and Solow's Price-Inflation Phillips Curve," Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series 2014-10, Center for the History of Political Economy.
  • Handle: RePEc:hec:heccee:2014-10
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    File URL: http://hope.econ.duke.edu/node/1011
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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. The Phillips Curve: A Primer
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2017-05-29 16:34:30

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Phillips curve; Paul A. Samuelson; Robert M. Solow; inflation; unemployment; macroeconomic policy;

    JEL classification:

    • B22 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Macroeconomics
    • 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
    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E63 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Comparative or Joint Analysis of Fiscal and Monetary Policy; Stabilization; Treasury Policy

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