THE SWEDISH SCHOOL REVISITED*

Authors

  • BRUCE McFARLANE


  • *

    This paper has developed partly from a desire to report on the contemporary Swedish economic scene, but largely as a response to a challenging book by the leading Swedish economist, Assar Lindbeck, The Political Economy of the New Left (Harper and Row, 1971). This work, which states that “it is high time that the dynamic version of the Walrasian system of economic analysis was connected with the ecological equilibrium system of our natural environment” (p. 6), develops a human capital approach to problems of income distribution (p. 26), and counterattacks the recent institutional and left critiques of “mainstream” economics, has a specifically Swedish gloss. In fact it marries some aspects of the Swedish approach to the usual obsessions of Samuelson-style economics. It should be read in conjunction with Lindbeck's Nobel Prize Oration for Samuelson in The Swedish Journal of Economics, No. 4, 1970. The current paper explores different issues from those raised specifically in The Political Economy of the New Left: the development of Swedish economics since Wicksell, the nature of the development of Swedish economics since Wicksell, the nature of Swedish economic policy, and the Swedish “welfare state” model so lauded by our own technocratic labourists. My basic problem is really this: How did Samuelson conquer the radical Wicksellian tradition? (For a systematic critique of Lindbeck's specific points in The Political Economy of the New Left see my review article in Journal of Radical Political Economy (U.S.A.) Summer, 1972, pp. 85–99.) The paper was first presented at the Third Conference of Australian Economists in Adelaide, May 1973.

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