The Accumulation of Capital

The Accumulation of Capital

The Accumulation of Capital

The Accumulation of Capital

Excerpt

Economic analysis, serving for two centuries to win an understanding of the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, has been fobbed off with another bride -- a Theory of Value. There were no doubt deep-seated political reasons for the substitution but there was also a purely technical, intellectual reason. It is excessively difficult to conduct analysis of over-all movements of an economy through time, involving changes in population, capital accumulation and technical change, at the same time as an analysis of the detailed relations between output and price of particular commodities. Both sets of problems require to be solved, but each has to be tackled separately, ruling the other out by simplifying assumptions. Faced with the choice of which to sacrifice first, economists for the last hundred years have sacrificed dynamic theory in order to discuss relative prices. This has been unfortunate, first because an assumption of static over-all conditions is such a drastic departure from reality as to make it impossible to submit anything evolved within it to the test of verification and, secondly, because it ruled out the discussion of most of the problems that are actually interesting and condemned economics to the and formalism satirised by J. H. Clapham in 'Of Empty Economic Boxes'.

Keynes's General Theory smashed up the glass house of static theory in order to be able to discuss a real problem -- the causes of unemployment. But his analysis was framed in terms of a short period in which the stock of capital and the technique of production are given. It left a huge area of longrun problems covered with fragments of broken glass from the static theory and gave only vague hints as to how the shattered structure could be rebuilt.

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