Retrospectives: Do Productive Recessions Show the Recuperative Powers of Capitalism? Schumpeter's Analysis of the Cleansing Effect
AbstractSchumpeter has often been interpreted as a "liquidationist," someone who is convinced that economic crises are necessary and unavoidable, and thus that government nonintervention is a sound policy in such crises. The first two sections of this paper discuss Schumpeter's views in greater detail and suggest that categorizing him as a "liquidationist" is an oversimplification and as an unrepentant "noninterventionist" is incorrect. Although Schumpeter was certainly not a strong supporter of public interventions, he did see a role for public expenditure programs in particular circumstances. During periods of recession, Schumpeter believed firmly in what he described as the "recuperative powers of capitalism." However, when a depression becomes "pathological," there could be a role for government to intervene. In order to understand the overall picture of Schumpeter's message, we will first try to explain Schumpeter's analysis of recessions, depressions, and the other stages of business cycles. We will also discuss how Schumpeter perceived the recuperative powers of capitalism, a core concept in Schumpeter's analysis that allows him to distinguish between physiological and pathological recessions. In the 1990s, an active line of research examined the possibility that recessions may have a productive character along with their more obvious negative outcomes, because recessions in some way might hasten the process of reallocating economic recourses from slower-growth to faster-growth sectors. Such models were sometimes referred to as "neo-Schumpeterian," but given our analysis of Schumpeter's work, we will question whether this label is appropriate.
CitationDal Pont Legrand, Muriel, and Harald Hagemann. 2017. "Retrospectives: Do Productive Recessions Show the Recuperative Powers of Capitalism? Schumpeter's Analysis of the Cleansing Effect." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31 (1): 245-56. DOI: 10.1257/jep.31.1.245
- B31 History of Economic Thought: Individuals
- E22 Investment; Capital; Intangible Capital; Capacity
- E32 Business Fluctuations; Cycles
- P10 Capitalist Systems: General