Social Economy and the Price System: An Essay in Welfare Economics

Social Economy and the Price System: An Essay in Welfare Economics

Social Economy and the Price System: An Essay in Welfare Economics

Social Economy and the Price System: An Essay in Welfare Economics

Excerpt

A great many volumes have been written by economists on the subject of prices (or values), but most of this literature has been devoted to an explanation of how prices are determined, rather than to what prices do. Relatively little has been said about the functions which prices perform in the economic process, and (save for a few notable exceptions ) most of this has been incidental and fragmentary. For many years I have thought that there was a task to be done here, but not until 1944, when I received a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation which enabled me to take a leave of absence from my university work, was I able to devote the necessary time to it. In the meantime some other books have appeared which deal more or less directly with this theme. Notwithstanding these writings, I believe that there may be enough difference in my approach to warrant publication of the present study.

The sub-title of this book indicates that it is an essay in welfare economics. It might equally well be described as one in institutional economics; for the price system is one of our most important economic institutions. It is with the working of this system, and its interrelationships with other institutions, that this study is concerned. It differs in point of view from the work of typical institutional economists, however, in that it builds upon a foundation of economic theory of the traditional kind. I am hopeful that this combination of theoretical, institutional, and welfare economics may prove fruitful, and that it may be of interest to economists of all schools.

In the time which elapses between the writing of the manuscript . . .

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