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« Mercatus MA in Economic Fellowships | Main | Tyler Cowen Teaching Hayek's Contribution to the Socialist Calculation Debate »


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Check out Elster's textbook Expaining Social Behavior.

Great post, Pete. Smith had both equilibrium and equilibration. Walras was all equilibrium, though it took him (as I recall) four editions of his Elements to finally clearly see that he had to prohibit trading at false prices to get his equilibrium. Menger, by contrast was explicitly talking about processes. He reminded his readers that there is a lapse of time between cause and effect. Machlup explained a process approach to economic explanation in which the initial equilibrium is assumed to ensure that all changes chronicled are produced by the disturbing cause. The process story is continued until a final equilibrium is reached to ensure that the analysis captures all the changes that follow from the disturbing cause. In this story, equilibrium is a framing device. The process story is the meat of the sandwich. We might ask the Wendy's question of the now more standard appraoch:

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"...our curiosity about the workings of mechanisms that bring about those conditions.."

My first comment on your blog was a question about prices. I think I'm getting closer to answering the question...

In Which Our Anarchist Hero Jeffrey Tucker Proves The Point Of Taxation

Yes. General equilibrium arguments are existence arguments, in the canonical case established by a fixed point theorem (mapping from compact set to itself has at least one price vector as argument that produces itself as outcome). Process arguments introduce messier mathematics, you might get into Lyapunov methods, or phase diagrams. On occasion, I've looked at some of Jon Elster's stuff with that kind of mathematics in mind, generally after a cup of coffee setting it aside to mull it over later ...

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