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Structural Slumps: The Modern Equilibrium Theory of Unemployment, Interest, and Assets

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Cambridge, MA 1994 Hard cover New ed. New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 420 p. Harvard-Yenching Institute Monograph (Hardcover). Audience: General/trade. ... K-41 Read more Show Less

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Overview

Dissatisfied with the explanations of the business cycle provided by the Keynesian, monetarist, New Keynesian, and real business cycle schools, Edmund Phelps has developed from various existing strands-some modern and some classical—a radically different theory to account for the long periods of unemployment that have dogged the economies of the United States and Western Europe since the early 1970s. Phelps sees secular shifts and long swings of the unemployment rate as structural in nature. That is, they are typically the result of movements in the natural rate of unemployment (to which the equilibrium path is always tending) rather than of long-persisting deviations around a natural rate itself impervious to changing structure. What has been lacking is a "structuralist" theory of how the natural rate is disturbed by real demand and supply shocks, foreign and domestic, and the adjustments they set in motion.

To study the determination of the natural rate path, Phelps constructs three stylized general equilibrium models, each one built around a distinct kind of asset in which firms invest and which is important for the hiring decision. An element of these models is the modern economics of the labor market whereby firms, in seeking to dampen their employees' propensities to quit and shirk, drive wages above market-clearing levels-the phenomenon of the "incentive wage"—and so generate involuntary unemployment in labor-market equilibrium. Another element is the capital market, where interest rates are disturbed by demand and supply shocks such as shifts in profitability, thrift, productivity, and the rate of technical progress and population increase. A general-equilibrium analysis shows how various real shocks, operating through interest rates upon the demand for employees and through the propensity to quit and shirk upon the incentive wage, act upon the natural rate (and thus equilibrium path).

In an econometric and historical section, the new theory of economic activity is submitted to certain empirical tests against global postwar data. In the final section the author draws from the theory some suggestions for government policy measures that would best serve to combat structural slumps.

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What People Are Saying


An important contribution to economic knowledge-not only offers a new way of understanding long slumps, but also has striking policy implications that are generally overlooked.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674843738
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1994
  • Pages: 440
  • Product dimensions: 6.66 (w) x 9.59 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Edmund S. Phelps is McVickar Professor of Political Economy at Columbia University and winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Economics.

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Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction 1
Pt. I Concepts and Agenda
1 Modern Equilibrium Theory 9
2 Contrary Postulates of the Neoclassical Schools 14
3 The Labor-Market Equilibrium Locus in Modern Models 20
4 The Product-Market Equilibrium Locus and Partial-Equilibrium Unemployment Determination 33
5 Capital-Market Equilibrium, Neoclassical and Modern, and General-Equilibrium Employment 49
6 Key Factors in the Structuralist Theory of Unemployment Fluctuation 59
Pt. II The Closed Economy: Working Models
7 A Turnover-Training Model 69
8 A Customer-Market Model 86
9 A Two-Sector Fixed-Investment Model 108
10 Synthesis of the Single-Economy Theory 145
Pt. III Small and Large Open Economies: Working Models
11 International Linkages through Investment in Employees 169
12 International Linkages through Investment in Customers 182
13 International Linkages through Investment in Fixed Capital 211
14 Synthesis of the Global-Economy Theory 230
Pt. IV Microtheoretic Formulations, Modern and Neoclassical
15 Interest and Wealth in the Microeconomics of the Incentive Wage and Equilibrium Unemployment 245
16 Structural Shifts and Economic Activity in Neoclassical Theory 272
Pt. V Empirical Evidence
17 Econometric Tests of the Theory: A Postwar Cross-Country Time-Series Study 311
18 A Concise Nonmonetary History of Postwar Economic Activity 335
Pt. VI Concluding Notes
19 Notes on Classicism, Etc. 351
20 Economic Policies to Which the Structuralist Theory Might Lead 359
Notes 377
Glossary of Frequently Used Symbols 414
Index 417
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