Expectations and the Meaning of Institutions: Essays in Economics

By Don Lavoie; Ludwig Lachmann | Go to book overview

20

SPECULATIVE MARKETS AND ECONOMIC COMPLEXITY [1988]

Most friends of the market order are by now aware that, however successful they may be during any period of time, and especially after the volatility of the stock markets this autumn, there will always be battles to be fought and an adequate store of diverse ammunitions will have to be kept at all times. Attacks from the depth of the academic grove and from the rhetoricians at the political barricades are to be expected from time to time and have to be resisted. The importance of a long-term flexible strategy for the defence of the market is clear.

In the real world there are markets and markets, and some function more successfully than others. It is therefore curious and regrettable that many of the discussions on the market economy in recent years have been conducted at such a high degree of abstraction that these differences between markets seemed to vanish from sight. In many of the fierce controversies witnessed of late there may have lurked behind the positions occupied by the participants quite different conceptions of how markets function in reality, rather than different perspectives on the same facts. True or not, the economists and others who ignore the diversity of markets deprive themselves of a valuable weapon and, perhaps worse, prevent their friends and pupils from acquiring the skills required to handle it.

It also seems clear that in the market economy of today speculative markets play a particular role and that its student must pay due attention to them. Some critics of the market economy seem obsessed by its 'financial fragility'; others will feel that if these phenomena are studied with proper care altogether different conclusions may be derived. In any event, different markets are characterized by different constellations of market forces.

-270-

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