This article focuses on the fate of Walras and Walrasian ideas in Spain, which should
be contextualised within the coming of marginalism to Spain. Traditionally, it has
been accepted that marginalism was almost forgotten by Spanish economists during
the period of 1870 to 1936. This statement held on to the idea that Spanish economists
did not contribute in almost any way to the theoretical heritage at the time.
However, this interpretation is misleading in that Spanish economists were well informed
about the advances of economic theory and that they applied them to solve
the problems of Spain’s economic backwardness. In particular, during the first third
of the twentieth century, the main Spanish economists used a generic version of ‘national
equilibrium,’ which was merely a simplified adaptation of the Walrasian notion
of equilibrium to the Spanish economy, for grappling with the problems of economic
development. Three economists in particular, Antonio Flores de Lemus, Romà Perpiñá
Grau and more specifically Manuel de Torres, used this version to support different
economic policies that were assumed to contend with economic backwardness.
In doing so, they contributed to the introduction of marginalism, and in particular,
Walrasian ideas into Spain.
JEL Classification: B 13, B 31, D 50.
This paper evaluates the reception of Léon Walras’ ideas in Russia before 1920. Despite
an unfavourable institutional context, Walras was read by Russian economists.
On the one hand, Bortkiewicz and Winiarski, who lived outside Russia and had the
opportunity to meet and correspond with Walras, were first class readers and very
good ambassadors for Walras’ ideas, while on the other, the economists living in Russia
were more selective in their readings. They restricted themselves to Walras’ Elements
of Pure Economics, in particular, its theory of exchange, while ignoring its theory
of production. We introduce a cultural argument to explain their selective reading.
JEL classification numbers: B 13, B 19.
Frederic Lavington (1881–1927) played a significant role as a node between Marshall’s and Keynes’s eras. While Marshall trusted on the individual chivalrous entrepreneur, Keynes no longer depended on such an individual and placed his hopes on semi-autonomous bodies guided by public authorities. Although Lavington was a devotedly orthodox Marshallian, he was also a revolutionary theory developer, and he was located in the transition period between the two important figures. He recognised an inherent instability in the modern economies of the time but still held an optimistic view of capitalism. Lavington relied on able entrepreneurs as a group, who he believed could eliminate the contradictions between individual rational calculations and collective disturbing consequences.
Lavington’s insight on capitalism can be understood as a threefold-layer structure, at the core of which is an entrepreneur. This structure comprises the following: (1) theory construction, related to revolutionary devices such as liquidity preference and portfolio selection, (2) contemporary recognition, related to the trade cycle and (3) normative behavour, related to leaders in industry. The first is concerned with rational behaviour under uncertainty; the second, with unexpected disturbances and the third, with a coordination problem: if the captains of industry work well in business organizations, the gap between the micro- and macro-layers tends to reduce.
Although he was very close to Keynes in the light of points (1) and (2), Lavington shared almost the same view of Marshall in the light of point (3). This duality had made evaluations on him extremely difficult.
JEL Classification: B10, B31, L16