A Closely Knit Frame of Reference; the Channels Account for Booms and Slumps, for Inflation and Deflation,

The interconnected channels of the Diagram of Rates of Flow provide a closely knit frame of reference.  The channels account for booms and slumps, inflation and deflation.

The method of circulation analysis resembles more the method of arithmetic than the method of botany.  It involves a minimum of description and classification, a maximum of interconnections and functional relations.  Perforce, some description and classification are necessary; but they are highly selective, and they contain the apparent arbitrariness inherent in all analysis.  For analytic thinking uses classes based on similarity only as a springboard to reach terms defined by the correlations in which they stand.  To take the arithmetic illustration, only a few of the integral numbers in the indefinite number series are classes derived from descriptive similarity; by definition, the whole series is a progression in which each successive term is a function of its predecessor.  It is this procedure that gives arithmetic its endless possibilities of accurate deduction; and, as has been well argued, it is an essentially analogous procedure that underlies all effective theory. [CWL 21, 111]

On such a methodological model (i.e. implicit definition according to functional relation)…classes of payments quickly become rates of payment standing in the mutual conditioning of a circulation; to this mutual and, so to speak, internal conditioning there is added the external conditioning that arises out of transfers of money from one circulation to another; in turn this twofold conditioning in the monetary order is correlated with the conditioning constituted (in the hierarchical productive order) by productive rhythms of goods and services; … There results a closely knit frame of reference that can envisage any total movement of an economy as a function of variations in rates of payment, and that can define the conditions of desirable movements as well as deduce the causes of breakdowns. … [CWL 21, 111]

More positively, the channels account for booms and slumps, for inflation and deflation, for changed rates of profit, for the attraction found in a favorable balance of trade, the relief given by deficit spending, and the variant provided by multinational corporations and their opposition to the welfare state. [CWL 15, 17]

… the U.S. economy was experiencing the phenomenon of ‘stagflation’ – a clearly discernible overturning of the conventional economic wisdom about the tradeoff between inflation and unemployment so neatly expressed in the Phillips curve. So-called ‘Keynesian fine tuning onto the neoclassical track’ was not working; and forms of socialist planning only promised to deepen rather than resolve the anomalies of welfare economics. … (Lonergan) believed he had an explanation for what, in a statement from the essay we are editing, he described as a “situation – sometimes thought mysterious – in which consumer prices continuously inflate, new enterprise is evaded, unemployment becomes chronic, and despite inflation the value of stocks declines.” [CWL 15, Editors Introduction, xli]

Need the moral be repeated?  There exist two circuits, each with its own final market.  The equilibrium of the economic process is conditioned by the balance of the two circuits: each must be allowed the possibility of continuity, of basic outlay yielding an equal basic income and surplus outlay yielding an equal surplus income, of basic and surplus income yielding equal basic and surplus expenditure, and of these grounding equivalent basic and surplus outlay.  But what cannot be tolerated, much less sustained, is for one circuit to be drained by the other. That is the essence of dynamic disequilibrium. [CWL 15, 175]

Leave a Reply