Munich Personal RePEc Archive

Das „saldenmechanische Modell“ von Fritz Helmedag und die Empirie

Quaas, Georg (2007): Das „saldenmechanische Modell“ von Fritz Helmedag und die Empirie. Published in: Wirtschaftsdienst , Vol. 87 Hef, No. 00436275 (2007): pp. 406-412.


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The mechanism of net balances – called “Saldenmechanik” in German – was the subject of a theory presented by Wolfgang Sützel in the 50ies of the last century. Stützel was “concerned with money flows between economic units and with net changes in the money holdings of these units as a result of such flows.” (Hein 1959) The name of Helmedag’s model refers to this tradition of macroeconomic thinking. From a point of view on the outside, Helemdag’s model of net balances can be characterized by an aggregate level comparable to the macroeconomic IS-model, but instead of specifying consumption and investment functions it is focused on income distribution and taxes – including their influence on national income and employment. Because the mathematical part of the model consists of identities only, it is similar to some equations of the modern system of national accounts (SNA), but without claiming and reaching their accuracy and richness. This feature makes it difficult to confront the model with real data. For this purpose it has to be embed in the SNA by adding some variables and by interpreting others in the light of some structural similarities between equations of the model and some equations of the SNA. Under these conditions, Helmedag’s model can be confronted with real data and its main conclusions can be tested empirically. Ignoring the well known national and personal saving rates, Helmedag’s model utilizes different saving rates: The profit-saving rate is understood as the saving of profits as a percentage of profit income; the wage-saving rate is defined as the saving of wages as a percentage of wage income. Both rates are no part of the SNA as it is commonly understood. Therefore it was necessary to compute these special saving rates empirically on the basis of an additional socio-economic data set. As expected, it proofed right that profit-saving rates are usually higher than wage-saving rates. With these results, the model could interpreted empirically. It became evident that some of the consequences drawn by Helmedag and poured by him into the treasure chamber of inexpensive political recommendations were seriously wrong. Especially the proposition that indirect taxes (value added taxes) have no effect on national income and employment can be regarded as falsified.

Hein, John (1959) on W. Stützel: Volkswirtschaftliche Saldenmechanik: Ein Beitrag zur Geldtheorie. In: The American Economic Review, Vol. 49, No. 5 (Dec 1959), pp.1088-1089.

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