WELCOME REMARKS / Michael Ignatieff / President and Rector, CEU
ABSTRACT / All human communities - indeed all living things - have been subject to shocks which undermine or destroy their means of survival. But until modern times these have been natural shocks, like an earthquake or a drought or long run climate change. Many disasters we label natural, were not completely exogenous, since human activity contributed to them – most notably plagues. Nevertheless, we still think of them as sufficiently remote from anything we do to be called visitations of nature.
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, however, human communities have experienced economic disruptions which arise directly out of our own activities and without any natural co-agent: strictly speaking endogenous shocks. These disruptions come in waves or cycles or even randomly, but their source lies in a specific economic organisation, industrial and or financial capitalism. Typically they are marked by alternating waves of boom and slump, prosperity and depression. Economists have identified long cycles and short cycles, but their causes are still not very well understood.
In this lecture, I want to consider the four main economic explanations given for these non-linear events, phenomena, each of which takes its name from a famous economist: Marxist, Schumpeterian, Keynesian, and Hayekian, and ask which explanation or combination of explanations throws light on what is happening today.
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