Conference on Business Cycles

Conference on Business Cycles

Conference on Business Cycles

Conference on Business Cycles


The present volume contains the papers presented and the ensuing discussion at the Conference on Business Cycles held in New York, November 25-7, 1949. Since no stenographic record of the discussion from the floor was taken, only those contributions to the debate which were submitted in writing are printed. The authors were given a chance to revise their papers and to append replies to their critics -- an opportunity of which most speakers availed themselves.

The Conference grew out of a recommendation by the Universities- National Bureau Committee for Economic Research, and its program was prepared by a committee consisting of Moses Abramovitz, R. A. Gordon, Simon Kuznets, Jacob Marschak, Geoffrey Moore, Hans Neisser, Arthur Smithies, and myself as chairman.

The purpose of the Conference was to afford the participants, about 70 in number, an opportunity to discuss thoroughly some of the major problems and results of business cycle research. The highly successful Conferences on Research in Income and Wealth were the obvious model for the Business Cycles Conference. I am afraid we have not been able to do for business cycle research as much as the Income Conferences have been able to do for income analysis. The reasons are fairly evident: business cycle research is a broader field; the basic cleavages in approach are much deeper, reaching down to the very philosophical foundations of scientific analysis of social phenomena; hence the scholars interested in our subject are not such a closely knit group as those engaged in income analysis.

I believe, nevertheless, that it was the common opinion of the participants that the Conference was a worthwhile enterprise.

The volume falls into three parts. Part I consists of papers dealing with the major empirical approaches to the study of business cycles, their methods and results.

Wesley C. Mitchell had agreed to open the Conference and to unveil for the first time in public some of the results of his book, What Happens during Business Cycles, which has since been published by the National Bureau. Unfortunately, he did not live to carry out his plan, but his unfinished manuscript was circulated to the conferees and Arthur F. Burns read . . .

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