Un nuovo Quaderno DEPS (735/2016). Il paper raccoglie la versione prelminare della presentazione che feci per i seminari Critical Economics in Times of Crisis organizzata nel 2015 da Tommaso Gabellini and Simone Gasperin col sostegno dell' Università di Pisa e della Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna. Qui l'introduzione. Commenti benvenuti.
The modern revival of the Classical surplus approach: implications for the analysis of growth and crises
Sraffian economics has recovered the surplus approach to the theory of value and distribution developed by the Classical economists and Marx and later obscured by the emergence of marginalist economics in the second half of the 19th century. It has also laid the foundations for a robust capital-theoretic critique of the marginalist theory of distribution. By virtue of this twofold contribution, Modern Classical Theory (MCT), also known as Classical-Keynesian approach, is well suited to absorb and reinforce the more revolutionary insights of Keynes’s legacy and to spur heterodox research in various directions. The paper suggests some implications for modern macroeconomics and the interpretation of the global and European crises. Given that some themes, particularly the capital-theory controversy, will be illustrated by Fabio Petri’s contribution to the present volume, I will extend my own contribution considering some other heterodox approaches in the light of MCT. The paper intends to provoke interest in MCT especially to young scholars interested in heterodox economics.
As said, MCT has two constituents:
A) Recovery of the Classical “surplus” theory of distribution. This approach entails a conflict (non-harmonic) theory of distribution and identifies the roots of the crises in income distribution inequalities and in the consequent problems of lack of aggregate demand.
B) Criticism of neoclassical capital theory. This undermines the micro-foundations of modern macroeconomics (pars destruens) and saves the most revolutionary of Keynes’ General Theory propositions (pars construens).
MCT tends to stick to the traditional method in economics of long-period equilibria (better defined as long-period positions) of the Classical economists and Marx (and of the early marginalists). This is one of the least understood aspects of MCT, often seen as an element of conservatism. As shown also by Petri, the opposite is true, and the necessity to dispel this frequent misunderstanding motivates the critical consideration given to some heterodox approaches in the final part of the paper.