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"Periodic crises": Clément Juglar between theories of crises and theories of business cycles
Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology
Winner of the European Society for the History of Economic Thought's competition of best article in the history of economic thought published in a scientific Journal during 2009 or 2010, and winner of the History of Economics Society competition for the best article in the history of economics published during 2010
Business cycle theory is normally described as having evolved out of a previous tradition of writers focusing exclusively on crises. In this account, the turning point is seen as residing in Clément Juglar's contribution on commercial crises and their periodicity. It is well known that the champion of this view is Schumpeter, who propagated it on several occasions. The same author, however, pointed to a number of other writers who, before and at the same time as Juglar, stressed one or another of the aspects for which Juglar is credited primacy, including the recognition of periodicity and the identification of endogenous elements enabling the recognition of crises as a self-generating phenomenon. There is indeed a vast literature, both primary and secondary, relating to the debates on crises and fluctuations around the middle of the nineteenth century, from which it is apparent that Juglar's book Des Crises Commerciales et de leur Retour Périodique en France, en Angleterre et aux États-Unis (originally published in 1862 and very much revised and enlarged in 1889) did not come out of the blue but was one of the products of an intellectual climate inducing the thinking of crises not as unrelated events but as part of a more complex phenomenon consisting of recurring crises related to the development of the commercial world - an interpretation corroborated by the almost regular occurrence of crises at about 10-year intervals.
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