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ON THE NOTION OF PERMANENT AND TEMPORARY CAUSES: THE LEGACY OF RICARDO

Maria Cristina Marcuzzo ()

Journal of the History of Economic Thought, 2014, vol. 36, issue 4, 421-434

Abstract: This paper considers the distinction made by David Ricardo between “permanent†and “temporary†causes, which he sometimes refers to also as “stable†and “accidental†causes (see The Works and Correspondence of David Ricardo [hereinafter Works] I: 86, 88, 92; VI: 154), to derive implications useful to distinguish his approach from subsequent developments of the notions of short-period and long-period equilibrium. In particular, I trace the change of focus in the concept of “permanent†forces brought about by Alfred Marshall—from whose insights Alfred Kahn and John Maynard Keynes drew inspiration for their short-period analysis—which paved the way to fundamental changes in the method and theory.It is argued that Ricardo’s distinction maintains an heuristic value, in particular vis-à -vis the distinction between short and long period, which is part of the common language in standard economics.

Date: 2014
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