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In Search of Lost Time: The Neoclassical Synthesis

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  • Michel De Vroey

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  • Pedro Garcia Duarte

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Abstract

Present-day macroeconomics has sometimes been dubbed ‘the new neoclassical synthesis’, suggesting that it constitutes a reincarnation of the neoclassical synthesis of the 1950s. This paper assesses this understanding. To this end, we examine the contents of the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ neoclassical syntheses. We show that the neoclassical synthesis originally had no fixed content, but two meanings gradually became dominant. First, it designates the program of integrating Keynesian and Walrasian theory. Second, it designates the methodological principle that in macroeconomics it is better to have alternative models geared towards different purposes than a hegemonic general-equilibrium model. The paper documents that: (a) the first program was never achieved; (b) Lucas’s criticisms of Keynesian macroeconomics eventually caused the neoclassical synthesis program to vanish from the scene; (c) the rise of DSGE macroeconomics marked the end of the neoclassical synthesis mark II; and (d) contrary to present-day understanding, the link between the old and the new synthesis is at best weak..

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  • Michel De Vroey & Pedro Garcia Duarte, 2012. "In Search of Lost Time: The Neoclassical Synthesis," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2012_07, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
  • Handle: RePEc:spa:wpaper:2012wpecon07 Note: Published in the "B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics", Jan. 2013, 13(1). http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/bejm.2013.13.issue-1/bejm-2012-0078/bejm-2012-0078.xml
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    Cited by:

    1. Michel De Vroey, 2014. "Backhouse and Boianovsky on "disequilibrium theory". A review article of transforming modern macroeconomics. Exploring disequilibrium microfoundations, 1956-2003," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(4), pages 724-742, August.
    2. Antonella Rancan, 2014. "Commento di Modigliani alla teoria della disoccupazione di Sylos Labini (attraverso la corrispondenza del 1956)," Moneta e Credito, Economia civile, vol. 67(267), pages 271-284.
    3. Michael Assous, 2013. "Solow's Struggle with Medium-Run Macroeconomics: 1956-1995," Center for the History of Political Economy Working Paper Series 2013-17, Center for the History of Political Economy.
    4. Antonella Rancan, 2014. "Modigliani's comments on Sylos Labini's theory of unemployment (1956-1958)," PSL Quarterly Review, Economia civile, vol. 67(270), pages 269-282.
    5. Goulven Rubin, 2014. "Oskar Lange or how IS-LM came to be interpreted as a Walrasian model," Working Papers halshs-01018658, HAL.
    6. Pedro Garcia Duarte, 2015. "From real business cycle and new Keynesian to DSGE Macroeconomics: facts and models in the emergence of a consensus," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2015_05, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).
    7. Francesco Sergi, 2015. "L'histoire (faussement) naïve des modèles DSGE," Documents de travail du Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne 15066, Université Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris 1), Centre d'Economie de la Sorbonne.
    8. Michael Assous & Pedro Garcia Duarte, 2017. "Challenging Lucas: from overlapping generations to infinite-lived agent models," Working Papers, Department of Economics 2017_03, University of São Paulo (FEA-USP).

    More about this item

    Keywords

    neoclassical synthesis; new neoclassical synthesis; Paul Samuelson; Robert Lucas; Robert Solow;

    JEL classification:

    • B22 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought since 1925 - - - Macroeconomics
    • B30 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - History of Economic Thought: Individuals - - - General
    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian
    • E13 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Neoclassical

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