Recession: Keynesian or Hayekian

In the Times of India I hear is all about “infotainment”, with more information less entertainment in economic times. So as far ET columnists go hardly can one hold them the standards of an academic debate, loose ends are quite natural. But what about sheer inconsistency, or gross error?

Swami ET article today is titled “Beware: Recession maybe Hayekian”. My faint smile on reading the title  soon disappeared when I read this

“The current recession looks more Hayekian than Keynesian. A Keynesian recession represents a sudden fall in demand, and can be remedied within six months by pumping enough purchasing power into the economy. A Hayekian recession, however, is caused by misallocation of resources over a long period, driven by unrealistic interest rates, ending in a bust that requires years of structural adjustment. Such a recession can last a decade (as in Japan in the 1990s)”.

Swami goes on to argue that many a crises have been Keynesian and successfully solved by government spending. My contention here is not that Keynesians are wrong, that point I have already made. But that one cannot argue that some recessions are Keynesian others Hayekian!

The Hayekian method involves a complete reject of the aggregate demand and supply framework. Hayek rejects and warns us against the very idea of “capital” as a homogenous commodity at the very beginning of “Pure Theory of Capital”, turning our attention to the structure of capital in a system of production.

Moreover Swami makes no mention of why there might be a fall in aggregate demand in the first place to cause a Keynesian recession. And since we are talking about a Keynesian syndrome, the cause must be independent of central bank policies. For people like Krugman, Stiglitz the cause may lie in “animal spirits”, which is consistent with their political philosophy. But what about Swamy who won the Bastiat Prize.

Also note that though he says this recession is Hayekian, there is no mention of “central banking”, “centrally determined price of capital”, etcetera.

Infotainment is all good, but an article with absolutely no academic grounding is a real pity. And I am not entirely sure whether such writing does Austrian economics and libertarian politics any good. Your call.

Also read my earlier critique of a Swami ET piece here.

And another incorrect portrayal of Hayek by Meghnad Desai  (he offered a Marx-Hayek solution to US crisis) here.

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