Economic theory history

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The history of economic theory or history of economic thought looks at economic theory in the past and present. Economic theory is also referred to as economic theory or economic theory and deals with that sub-area of economics that deals with fundamental processes and relationships of an economic nature.


Important economic theories are:


Time to Absolutism

From antiquity and the Middle Ages, thoughts on economic activity have been handed down in the works of individual philosophers, lawyers, financial scholars and theologians. Formation of economic theories through academic discussion and the reflection of current economic activity in today's sense only rarely took place. Ancient forerunners of economists were u. a. Xenophon , Plato and Aristotle , in the Middle Ages and during the Enlightenment Thomas More , Thomas Hobbes , John Locke and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz . Accordingly, economic policy was mostly carried out without a well-founded theoretical backing.

Mercantilism to Classical

During absolutism in France, Italy and England a school of thought emerged in economic policy that was not based on a closed theory, but on more precise ideas about the interrelationships of economic activity than had been the case until then. In Germany, too, the principles of mercantilism were applied within the framework of cameralism . The mercantilist economic policy was characterized by massive state intervention in the economy and made France one of the leading economic powers in Europe, but it also led to a decline in agriculture. In response to this development, the theory of a circular economic mechanism , published in 1758 by the doctor François Quesnay in the Tableau Economique , called for a laissez-faire policy. This school of thought, later called Physiocracy , is considered to be the first scientific approach to economic theory.

In England the ideas of physiocracy were taken up and expanded into a theory of society as a whole, classical economics . Adam Smith , David Ricardo, and John Stuart Mill are often cited as important representatives of this school of thought. In contrast to the physiocrats, the classics demanded limited state intervention in economic activity in order to avoid undesirable developments.

Classic to Keynes

In the course of industrialization and the associated emergence of heightened social differences in the cities, questions of profit distribution became increasingly interesting for economists. The Socialism and Marxism emerged. These schools of thought emphasized the need to regulate the economy and called for the collectivization of the means of production. Robert Owen , Charles Fourier and Karl Marx are considered to be important representatives . At the same time, other scholars who were more strongly influenced by the burgeoning national sentiment, such as Friedrich List and Gustav von Schmoller, shaped the historical school . Their demands were state intervention to protect the local economy and research into reality instead of (before) quick generalizations.

Towards the end of the 19th century, the marginal utility school emerged under the influence of economists such as William Stanley Jevons , Carl Menger and Léon Walras . Microeconomic approaches such as individual benefit assessments and supply and demand functions were discussed for the first time . Since then, methodological problems have formed an at least equal pillar of economics alongside content and regulatory issues (see also utilitarianism ). Under the impression of the way of thinking of the marginal utility school, the classical u. a. Further developed by Alfred Marshall to the neoclassical theory , in that the subjectivist approaches of the marginal utility school were merged with the objectivist theories of the classics in the equilibrium analysis.

The theories developed up to then could not provide any explanations or helpful approaches to counter the global economic crisis of the 1920s and 1930s with their mass unemployment. A renunciation of state interventionism advocated by the representatives of the Austrian school proved to be politically unenforceable.

Keynes to this day

John Maynard Keynes contributed to the analysis of aggregate demand and founded Keynesianism , which propagates the overcoming of economic crises through an active economic policy of the state. The monetarist theory of money was mainly developed by Irving Fisher and Milton Friedman ( Chicago School ). While Keynesianism as a macroeconomic imbalance theory assumes that markets can get out of balance for a longer period of time, equilibrium-oriented macro theories such as neoclassicism or monetarism assume that markets cannot get out of balance or at least find them again very quickly. The Ordoliberalismus contributed to competition policy and the concept of the social market economy in. More recent approaches are the New Institutional Economics , Experimental Economics , the econometrics and game theory .

Organizations and magazines

Specialized organizations dealing with the history of economic thought are the European Society for the History of Economic Thought (ESHET, founded 1995), the North American History of Economics Society (HES, founded 1974) and the Japanese Society for The History of Economic Thought ”(JSHET, founded 1950), the History of Economic Thought Society of Australia (HESTA, founded 1981), the Italian“ Associazione Italiana per la Storia del Pensiore Economico ”and the French“ Association Charles Gide pour l'Étude de la pensée économique ”. In Germany, the Verein für Socialpolitik has a committee for the history of economics that was set up in 1980.

Of the journals, the most prestigious is the History of Political Economy . In the United States, the History of Economics Society Bulletin has been published since 1979 , and renamed the Journal of the History of Economic Thought (JHET) in 1990 . The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought (EJHET) has existed in Europe since 1993 , along with the French journal Economies et Sociétés and the Italian History of Economic Ideas (formerly Quaderni di storia dell'economia politica ). The Australian HESTA publishes the History of Economics Review .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon Volkswirtschaftstheorie-Dogmengeschichte
  2. Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon Macroeconomics
  3. ^ A b John Lodewijks: History of economics: societies and journals . In: Phillip Anthony O'Hara (ed.) Encyclopedia of Political Economy: A-K . Volume 1 of the Encyclopedia of Political Economy . Taylor & Francis, 1999, ISBN 0-415-18717-6 , pp. 449-451 .
  4. ^ History of the Committee . Website of Heinz-Peter Spahn at the University of Hohenheim . Retrieved October 23, 2019.