I just read here the news that Edmond Malinvaud, grand old man of French economic theory, has died at the age of 91. The first really advanced microeconomics textbook I read in preparation for my doctoral studies was his (and it was really, really hard for me at the time). The linked post by Diane Coyle discusses his book on unemployment from 1977. In it, Malinvaud took seriously disequilibrium approaches to general “equilibrium” models of macroeconomics. By now, mainstream macroeconomics has abandoned that approach so thoroughly that I doubt that any young academic economists below the rank of full professor even know what it was. This may well prove to be a great pity. I fear that insisting on equilibrium at all costs is dangerous in macroeconomic theory-building. In fact, I fear that one of the biggest problems of economic theory (and of game theory as its basis) is the enormous difficulty we theorists have in discussing disequilibrium behavior, even as simple as how to move from one equilibrium to another when two distinct equilibria exist. But this will have to wait for a much longer post from me. For now, I want to pay my respects to Edmond Malinvaud’s memory.
May he rest in peace.