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Emil Lederer and the Schumpeter, Hilferding, Tugan-Baranowsky Nexus

Michaelides, Panayotis G. and Milios, John G. and Vouldis, Angelos (2007): Emil Lederer and the Schumpeter, Hilferding, Tugan-Baranowsky Nexus. Published in: Review of Political Economy , Vol. Vol 23, No. No 3 (2011): pp. 439-460.

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This essay argues that Emil Lederer formulated his research agenda and his main theses in close theoretical contact with the conceptual framework of other schools of thought, as represented by major scholars such as Joseph Schumpeter, Rudolf Hilferding and Mikhail Ivanovich Tugan-Baranowsky. The impact of technological progress on the economic system is a central theme in Lederer’s work, whereas its linkage to the market structure and more specifically to the emergence of monopolies is also shared by Hilferding. Moreover, Lederer argued that business cycles constitute an endogenous characteristic of capitalism and should not only be attributed to external shocks which disrupt an otherwise harmonious economic environment. In his major work Technical Progress and Unemployment (1938), Lederer argued that business cycles could arise from the disruptions created by innovations which are introduced discontinuously into the economic system, a thesis that is traditionally known to be of Schumpeterian inspiration. Hilferding and Tugan–Baranowsky delivered theories of economic fluctuations focusing on the role of disproportional growth between production sectors. It is interesting to note that, in his early writings, Lederer had adopted and extended many of Hilferding’s and Tugan-Baranowsky’s theses presented in their disproportionality theories. In his respective analysis, Lederer referred to (technological) unemployment as a main feature of the economic system as a whole, whereas he tended to link it to technical change and economic development. Also, his emphasis on insufficient aggregate demand in periods of economic depression is of great importance. Finally, as far as his methodological approach is concerned, Lederer tended to support his theoretical arguments with empirical data and theoretical discussions without any attempt to use mathematical tools. In other words, his work presents a strong link of theoretical reasoning and empirical evidence. Consequently, it can be argued that despite the fact that Lederer is an economist whose theories remain almost unknown nowadays, his work reflects a very rich background of theoretical traditions. Finally, all these major economists, in spite of their theoretical differences, have delivered certain theses which are similar in scope and conclusions.

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