History of economic thought

Course description

- Introduction to the history of economic thought. Economists and schools of thought. Methodological introduction.
- Bullionism and mercantilism: the specie-flow mechanism.
- The origins. The birth of political economy as a project to transfer the method used in physical sciences to social sciences.
- The Physiocrats: The Tableau économique by Quesnay.
- Adam Smith: philosophical foundations of the Wealth of Nations. Compatibility of self-interests: the role of the market and the role of competition; value in use and value in exchange, the labour command theory of value; division of labour and capital accumulation; theories of wages, economic rent and profit; Smith's model of economic growth.
- From Smith to Ricardo: Bentham and utilitarianism; J.B. Say and the general glut controversy.
- Malthus, Essay on Population; the theory of differential rent.
- David Ricardo, Essay on Profits; the labour theory of value; income distribution; Ricardo's model of economic growth.
- Karl Marx: the concept of capital; labour theory and surplus-value; the transformation problem; the law of motion of societies.
- An overview of economic thought up to Marginalism; the historical school; the forerunners: A. Cournot and J. Dupuit.
- S. Jevons, Theory of political economy, the subjective approach to value; the consumer equilibrium; the first formulation of the first theorem of welfare economics. Jevons and the Classical school.
- Léon Walras, Eléments: Walras and the French liberal school; the general equilibrium theory in perfect competition: Existence, Uniqueness and Stability of Equilibrium. Tâtonnement as a process toward the equilibrium.
- Alfred Marshall: Relationship with classical economists; mathematics, historicism, evolutionism; Marshall's theory of value: demand and supply scissors; firm and industry; economies of scale and perfect competition; Sraffa's criticisms.
- Vilfredo Pareto and the new welfare economics: "ophelimity"; Pareto-optimality; "Pareto's Law" of income distribution.
- Keynesian revolution: The general theory (1936); the foundation of macroeconomics. A tract of monetary reform (1923). The theory of the credit cycle and the Treatise on money (1930). The determination of output and employment. Criticisms of Say's Law. The use of government fiscal and monetary policies.


H. Landreth, D.C. Colander, Storia del pensiero economico, Il Mulino, 1996, ISBN 88-15-05473-1



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