Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 12 No. 1 (Winter 1998)


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Retrospectives: Price Indexes and General Exchange Values

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Persky, Joseph. 1998. "Retrospectives: Price Indexes and General Exchange Values." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 12(1): 197-205.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.12.1.197


The spreading use of indexes in the nineteenth century raised basic questions concerning the nature of absolute value in a neoclassical world of relative exchange values. Where Walsh held that the 'right' index for the general exchange value of money would identify true values, Jevons, Marshall, and especially Keynes were highly skeptical that such values could be defined without interpersonal comparisons of utility. Subsequent political debates over the use of indexation, especially those of World War II and the current period, have underlined the difficulty of identifying a true cost-of-living index applicable to all components of the population.

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Persky, Joseph (U IL, Chicago)

JEL Classifications

E31: Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
B22: History of Thought: Macroeconomics


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