Contending Economic Theories

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1 Contending Economic Theories i

2 ii Contending Economic Theories Richard D. Wolff and Stephen A. Resnick The MIT Press Cambridge, Massachusetts London, England

3 iii 2012 Massachusetts Institute of Technology All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form by any electronic or mechanical means (including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval) without permission in writing from the publisher. MIT Press books may be purchased at special quantity discounts for business or sales promotional use. For information, please or write to Special Sales Department, The MIT Press, 55 Hayward Street, Cambridge, MA This book was set in by. Printed and bound in the United States of America. {Comp: Please fill in font, compositor, and location} Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

4 iv Contents Detailed Table of Contents To Our Readers Acknowledgments 1 Three Different Theories 2 Neoclassical Theory 3 Keynesian Theory 4 Marxian Theory 5 Late Neoclassical Theory 6 Oscillations: In Capitalism and Among Economic Theories 7 The Importance of Theoretical Differences Notes References Index

5 v Detailed Table of Contents 1 Three Different Theories 1.1 This Book and Theories of Economics Theories: Economic and Otherwise Economic Theories in Disagreement Are We All Economic Theorists? 1.2 Theories and Society Changes in Europe and the Humanist Tradition The New Economic Theories Classical Political Economy The History of Neoclassical Economics The History of Keynesian Economics Keynesian Theory Return of Neoclassical Theory Neoclassical and Keynesian economics 1.3 The History of Marxian Economics 1.4 Comparing Different Economic Theories Comparing Theories in General The Logics of Different Theories

6 vi How Theoretical Differences Matter 1.5 An Introduction to the Three Theories Entry Point, Objects, and Logic of Neoclassical Theory Entry Point, Objects, and Logic of Keynesian Theory Entry Point, Objects, and Logic of Marxian Theory A Digression: Theories and Their Objects The Logic of Marxian Theory Communication among Neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian Economists 1.6 Conclusion 2 Neoclassical Theory 2.1 The Neoclassical Tradition Neoclassical Theory s Contributions Emergence of Neoclassical Theory after Adam Smith Which Economic Theory Will We Present? 2.2 Market Values: The Analytics of Supply and Demand The Determinants of Supply and Demand Markets, Private Property, Conservatives, and Liberals Preferences: Determining the Demand for Commodities Preferences: Determining the Supply of Labor

7 vii Preferences and Scarcity: Determining the Demand for Labor The Determination of Wages and Commodity Demands Preferences: Determining the Supply of Capital Preferences and Scarcity: Determining the Demand for Capital The Determination of Returns to Capital The Distribution of Income in Society: Returns to Capital and Labor Preferences and Scarcity: Determining the Supply of Commodities Demand and Supply Again: The Determination of Prices 2.3 Efficiency and Markets: Adam Smith s Invisible Hand Pareto Optimality 3 Keynesian Theory 3.1 The Challenge of Keynes 3.2 The Neoclassical Answer to Capitalist Recessions 3.3 The Keynesian Answer to Capitalist Recessions 3.4 Investment Behavior 3.5 Post-Keynesian economics and other Reactions to Keynes

8 viii 3.6 The Role of the State in Capitalist Society Appendix: Rational Expectations 4 Marxian Theory 4.1 The Marxian Tradition and Its Theories Marx s Contributions Marxism since Marx Which Marxian Theory Will We Present? 4.2 The Logical Structure of Marxian Theory The Basic Concepts of Marxian Economics Overdetermination and Process Contradictions Processes, Activities, and Relationships A Theoretical Dilemma Marxian Theory and Its Entry Point The Class Process 4.3 The Marxian Concept of Class Elaborated The Fundamental Class Process and Exploitation The Subsumed Class Process Different Forms of the Fundamental Class Process Social Formations and Social Transitions

9 ix 4.5 The Capitalist Fundamental Class Process and Commodities Products, Markets, and Commodities Commodity Values Commodities and Fundamental Class Processes Marx s Labor Theory of Capitalist Commodity Values The Surplus Value of Capitalist Commodities A Summary of Marxian Value Theory 4.6 Capitalists and Laborers What Are Capitalists? What Are Laborers? Exploitation Class Struggles The Complexity of Industrial Capitalist Firms Competition Competition and the Accumulation of Capital 4.7 Capitalist Economies and Social Development Growth of a Capitalist World Economy Capitalism and Real Incomes Cycles or Crises of Capitalist Economies Cycles and Policy Solutions

10 x 4.8 Capitalist Subsumed Classes Moneylenders and Subsumed Classes Managers and Subsumed Classes Merchants and Subsumed Classes Other Capitalist Subsumed Classes 4.9 Class Positions and Individuals Incomes Class Processes and the Distribution of Income Occupying Multiple Class and Nonclass Positions 4.10 The Complex Class Structure of Capitalist Firms Class Analysis of Capitalist Firms Capitalists and Corporate Boards of Directors A Marxian Theory of Industrial Profit 4.11 The Complex Class Structure of Other Social Sites Class Analysis and Households Class Analysis and the State Class Analysis and International Relations Appendix A: Why Does Marxian Theory Make Class Its Entry Point? Appendix B: The Transformation Problem Appendix C: Capitalist Competition Appendix D: Rising Exploitation with Rising Real Wages

11 xi 5 Late Neoclassical Theory 5.1 Introduction: Why This Chapter? Criticisms and Their Consequences The Responses: An Overview 5.2 Theories of Market Imperfections Externalities and Ways of Managing Them Forms of Imperfect Competition Transaction Costs and Economic Organization Information Failures and Missing Markets 5.3 New Theories of Human Behavior Theories of Motivational Diversity Theories of Bounded Rationality Behavioral Economics 5.4 New Theories of Equilibrium Different Notions of Equilibrium in the Neoclassical Tradition Nash Equilibrium and Classical Game Theory Evolutionary Stability and Evolutionary Game Theory 6 Oscillations in Capitalism and among Economic Theories 6.1 Capitalism Has Always Been Changing

12 xii Instabilities and Capitalism Capitalism and Economic Theories How Economic Crises Influenced Economic Theories 6.2 Oscillations of Economy and Oscillations of Theory Classical Political Economy and Marxism Neoclassical Economics Neoclassical versus Marxian Keynesian Economics 6.3 Two Modern Oscillations: The 1970s and the Crisis of Three Collapses: State Intervention, Keynesianism, and Orthodox Marxism From State- to Private-Capitalism: The Starkest Case Back to State Intervention 7 The Importance of Theoretical Differences 7.1 Marxism versus Neoclassical Theory Different Points of Entry Different Logics Different Objects of Analysis Different Theories of Value

13 xiii 7.2 Analytical Consequences of Contending Theories Income Distribution: The Neoclassical View Capitalism: The Neoclassical View Poverty: The Neoclassical View Income Distribution: The Marxian View Income Distribution: The Keynesian View Different Explanations of the Returns to Capitalists 7.3 Political Consequences of Contending Theories Political Conditions Shape Theories Struggles among Theories and Theorists 7.4 Which Theory Do We Choose? Choosing Theories Because of Their Consequences Choosing Theories Based on an Absolute Standard Empiricism Rationalism Choosing Economic Theories and Choosing Epistemologies A Final Thought Notes References

14 Index xiv

Contending Economic Theories

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