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The US Business Cycle since 1950: A Post Keynesian Explanation


  • John Harvey

    () (Department of Economics, Texas Christian University)


Despite its professed emphasis on the real world, the Post Keynesian literature lacks a history of business cycle fluctuations in a particular economy. This is an extremely important oversight. Not only might such a study be useful to researchers, but students are anxious to acquire practical as well as theoretical knowledge and to see historical applications of theory. This paper fills that gap by offering both theory and evidence regarding US cycles since 1950 through the Great Recession. The theory is derived from Keynes’ General Theory, while the evidence is comprised of a simple statistical analysis along with a narrative covering each expansion and recession. It will be argued that, despite Mainstream descriptions of capitalism as a relatively stable system occasionally interrupted by exogenous shocks, business cycles are systemic and a manifestation of the instability inherent to the capitalist system. The complete story cannot be told without reference to fiscal and monetary policy, oil shocks, strikes, and so on–but most of it can.

Suggested Citation

  • John Harvey, 2010. "The US Business Cycle since 1950: A Post Keynesian Explanation," Working Papers 201008, Texas Christian University, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:tcu:wpaper:201008

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    More about this item


    business cycle; Keynes; Post Keynesian;

    JEL classification:

    • E12 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General Aggregative Models - - - Keynes; Keynesian; Post-Keynesian
    • E20 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - General (includes Measurement and Data)
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles


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