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Robert Marjolin's theory of business cycles: between Simiand and Keynes

Richard Arena

History of Economic Ideas, 2003, vol. 11, issue 1, 95-111

Abstract: This contribution analyses the theory of business cycles which a French economist, Robert Marjolin, developed in the 1930s and the very beginning of the 1940s and interprets it as an attempt to build a theoretical synthesis between the contributions of François Simiand and John Maynard Keynes to economic dynamics. Such an attempt might appear paradoxical since Simiand strongly criticised Keynes’s Treatise on Money and his theory concerned long waves rather than business cycles. The solution to this apparent paradox is the direct outcome of the originality and resourcefulness with which Marjolin tried to employ Keynesian reasoning to provide an answer to questions that had been raised, but left unanswered, by Simiand. Little satistified with Simiand’s approach to the analysis of long cycles and their interaction with business cycles, Marjolin had recourse to a number of concepts and analyses he borrowed, not only from the General Theory, but from Keynes’ work as a whole. In Prix, Monnaie et Production, Marjolin reinterprets Keynes’ propositions, placed largely within a context of short period analysis, to encourage a new attempt at building a theory of ‘economic movements in the long period’, as indicated by the subtitle to this work.

Date: 2003
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