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Alessandro Roncaglia (born in Rome, 17 July 1947) is an Italian economist.
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Piero Sraffa: His life, thought and cultural heritage (2000)
Alessandro Roncaglia, Piero Sraffa: His life, thought and cultural heritage (2000)
- Indeed, a full understanding of Sraffa’s contributions can be difficult, since these must be viewed as a complex whole, as part of an extremely ambitious cultural project: ‘to shunt the car of economic science’ in a direction opposite to that –the subjective theory of value –chosen by Jevons, one of the leading early exponents of the marginalist approach. Thus, with his writings Sraffa contributes to exposing the weak points in the theories of the leading exponents of the marginalist approach, from Alfred Marshall and Arthur Cecil Pigou to Friedrich von Hayek, and of their present-day followers, and at the same time re-proposes the classical approach of Adam Smith and David Ricardo (and also, in certain respects, of Karl Marx). The work of reconstructing the classical approach is also coherent with elements of the Keynesian contribution. This connection is possibly the most important issue in the current debate concerning the road to be followed in going on with the work started by Sraffa.
- Sraffa’s criticisms of the concept of capital also amount – at least in principle –to a deadly blow to the foundations of the so-called ‘neo-classical synthesis’. Combining Keynes’ thesis on the possibility of fighting unemployment by adopting adequate fiscal and monetary policies with the marginalist tradition of simultaneous determination of equilibrium quantities and prices as a method to study any economic problem, this approach has in the last few decades come to constitute the dominant doctrine in textbooks the whole world over. It is only thanks to increasing specialisation in the various fields of economics, often invoked as the inevitable response to otherwise insoluble difficulties, that the theoreticians of general equilibrium are able to construct their models without considering the problem of relations with the real world that economists are supposed to be interpreting, and that the macroeconomists can pretend that their ‘one commodity models’ constitute an acceptable tool for analysis. For those who believe that the true task facing economists, hard as it may be, is to seek to interpret the world they live in, Sraffa’s ‘cultural revolution’ still marks out a path for research that may not (as yet) have yielded all it was hoped to, but is certainly worth pursuing.
- Ch. 1. Piero Sraffa