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General equilibrium theory behind the iron curtain: the case of Victor Polterovich

  • Ivan Boldyrev


    (National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow/Humboldt University, Berlin.)

  • Olessia Kirtchik


    (National Research University Higher School of Economics)

In this paper we address the story of developments in general equilibrium theory (GET) in the USSR during the 1970s through the lens of a single biography. The Soviet advances in mathematical economics, only fragmentarily known in the West, give an occasion to reflect on the extension of the Walrasian paradigm to non-market societies, as well as on the ideological effects of GET 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 USSR 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 large 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

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Paper provided by National Research University Higher School of Economics in its series HSE Working papers with number WP BRP 14/HUM/2013.

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Length: 27 pages
Date of creation: 2013
Date of revision:
Publication status: Published in WP BRP Series: Humanities / HUM, February 2013, pages 1-27
Handle: RePEc:hig:wpaper:14hum2013
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  1. Nash, John, 1950. "The Bargaining Problem," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 18(2), pages 155-162, April.
  2. Polterovich, Victor, 1973. "Экономическое Равновесие И Оптимум
    [Economic Equilibrium and the Optimum]
    ," MPRA Paper 22359, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Polterovich, V M, 1983. "Equilibrium Trajectories of Economic Growth," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 51(3), pages 693-729, May.
  6. 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.
  7. Mirowski,Philip, 2002. "Machine Dreams," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521772839, October.
  8. Dana, Rose-Anne, 1995. "An extension of Milleron, Mitjushin and Polterovich's result," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 259-269.
  9. John Quah, 2002. "The Law of Demand and Risk Aversion," Economics Papers 2002-W3, Economics Group, Nuffield College, University of Oxford.
  10. Mirowski,Philip, 2002. "Machine Dreams," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521775267, October.
  11. Polterovich, Victor, 1970. "Об Одной Модели Перераспределения Ресурсов
    [A Model of Resource Redistribution]
    ," MPRA Paper 22205, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  12. Bewley, Truman, 1982. "An integration of equilibrium theory and turnpike theory," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2-3), pages 233-267, September.
  13. Benassy, Jean-Pascal, 1975. "Neo-Keynesian Disequilibrium Theory in a Monetary Economy," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 42(4), pages 503-23, October.
  14. 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 301-20, June.
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