Measurement, Quantification, and Economic Analysis: Numeracy in Economics

By Ingrid H. Rima | Go to book overview

Chapter 8

A reconstruction of Henry L. Moore’s demand studies

Nancy J. Wulwick

Author: H. L. Moore

Statics. Theory of “static equilibrium” showing “the interdependence of all economic quantities” and through “simultaneous mathematical equations the conditions of their common determination”.

Dynamics. Theory of “moving equilibria, oscillations, and secular change …where all the variables in the constituent problems are treated as functions of time”.

(Machlup 1991:17)


MOORE’S DYNAMIC STATISTICAL LAWS OF DEMAND

In Economic Cycles: Their Law and Cause, H. L. Moore (1914) estimated statistical laws of demand for crops and pig iron in order to summarize the average changes that markets underwent as a result of shifts in demand and supply functions over the trade cycle. Economic Cycles pursued the research program that searched for the source of the trade cycle in an exogenous or natural phenomenon affecting agriculture (Peart 1991). Moore proposed that a meteorological cycle synchronous with a cosmical cycle and evident in a rainfall cycle caused a cycle in crop yields and then crop prices. The economic connection between the cycle in crop prices and the trade cycle is obscure, but Moore seemed to think that since the raw material used in making consumer goods largely came from farms and money wages varied with the price of food, the cycle in crop prices fed through into general prices, unit profits and production (Moore 1911:32; 1914:112; 1923:14-17). His hypothesis led him to examine the statistical relations over time between the price and quantity of four staple commodities—corn, hay, oats and potatoes—and pig iron, an indicator of the trade cycle (Mitchell 1913:199). 1

Moore called the statistical relations between the price and the quantity of each good law of demand. Moore emphasized that

the statistical laws that have just been derived apply to the average changes that society is actually undergoing. They summarize the changes in prices

-157-

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