The Difference Between Classical and Keynesian Economics

Topics: Keynesian economics, Macroeconomics, Adam Smith Pages: 8 (2274 words) Published: January 6, 2013
Macroeconomics considers the performance of the economy as a whole, which involves two major approaches to study the pattern and influence on the economy. Economists who believe in either of the types of thoughts are at loggerheads about various aspects about the way the economy influences people and vice-versa. Here, I have tried to draw a brief comparison that highlights the major differences, which brought into the new agenda;-

Difference between Classical and Keynesian Economics

Keynes refuted Classical economics' claim that the Say's law holds. The strong form of the Say's law stated that the "costs of output are always covered in the aggregate by the sale-proceeds resulting from demand". Keynes argues that this can only hold true if the individual savings exactly equal the aggregate investment.

While Classical economics believes in the theory of the invisible hand, where any imperfections in the economy get corrected automatically, Keynesian economics rubbishes the idea. Keynesian economics does not believe that price adjustments are possible easily and so the self-correcting market mechanism based on flexible prices also obviously doesn't. The Keynesian economists actually explain the determinants of saving, consumption, investment and production differently than the classical economists.

Classical economists believe that the best monetary policy during a crisis is no monetary policy. The Keynesian theorists on the other hand, believe that Government intervention in the form of monetary and fiscal policies is an absolute must to keep the economy running smoothly.

Classical economists believed in the long run and aimed to provide long run solutions at short run losses. Keynes was completely opposed to this, and believed that it is the short run that should be targeted first.

Keynes thought of savings beyond planned investments as a problem, but Classicists didn't think so because they believed that interest rate changes would sort this surplus of loanable funds and bring the economy back to an equilibrium. Keynes argued that interest rates do not usually fall or rise perfectly in proportion to the demand and supply of loanable funds. They are known to overshoot or undershoot at times as well.

Both Keynes and the Classical theorists however, believed as fact, that the future economic expectations affect the economy. But while, Keynes argued for corrective Government intervention, Classical theorists relied on people's selfish motives to sort the system out.

Adam Smith is the great economist, who is known as the founder of the classical economics school of thought. Though many others David Ricardo, Thomas Malthus, John Stuart Mill, William Petty, Johann Heinrich Von Thunen, have come and gone, and added a few things here and there, to the classical theories, we will only be concentrating on Adam Smith's.

The Classical economics theory is based on the premise that free markets can regulate themselves if left alone, free of any human intervention. Adam Smith's book, 'The Wealth of Nations', that started a worldwide Classical wave, stresses on there being an invisible hand (an automatic mechanism) that moves markets towards a natural equilibrium, without the requirement of any intervention at all. The division of labour and the free market will automatically tend toward an equilibrium that advances public interests.

Classical Economics Assumptions

Through classical Economics we have three assumptions :

Flexible Prices: The prices of everything, the commodities, labor (wages), land (rent), etc. must be both upwardly and downwardly mobile. Unfortunately, in reality, it has been observed that these prices are not as readily flexible downwards as they are upwards, due a variety of market imperfections, like laws, unions, etc.

'Supply creates its own demand'. The Say's law suggests that the aggregate production in an economy must generate an income enough to purchase all the economy's...
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