Are recessions abnormal ?

by John Quiggin on November 8, 2015

I’m on to the macroeconomics section of my book in progress, Economics in Two Lessons. The key point of this section is that, whereas the academic economics profession has wasted most of the last thirty years on the project of founding macroeconomics on (some near approximation of) standard neoclassical microeconomics, the validity of the core results of neoclassical microeconomics depend on the assumption that the economy is operating at full employment[^1]. This observation isn’t original – it was why Keynes saw his theory as saving capitalism from itself. Even the title I used in this post on the macro foundations of microeconomics turns out to be a reinvention of the wheel.

Having noted the importance of the full employment assumption in the abstract, how relevant is it? If the economy is, with notably rare exceptions, at, or close enough to, full employment, then it seems safe enough for economists to continue, as the profession has for 40 years or so, to treat macroeconomics as a special subfield with little relevance to the rest of the discipline.

To put the question simply, are recessions abnormal?

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Sunday photoblogging: Bristol – The Floating Harbour

by Chris Bertram on November 8, 2015

Here’s one I took on Friday night. One of the swing bridges that connect the north and south of the city is closed for repair, so there’s a temporary replacement for cyclists and pedestrians that takes you much higher than usual and affords a different vista of the water.

Bristol's Floating Harbour- the Balmoral