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Rivalry and Central Planning: The Socialist Calculation Debate Reconsidered (Historical Perspectives on Modern Economics) Hardcover – May 31, 1985


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Product Details

  • Series: Historical Perspectives on Modern Economics
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (May 31, 1985)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521264499
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521264495
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,826,228 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By James F. Mueller on August 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is a very detailed study of the entire history of the socialist calculation debate. This debate began with Von Mises' claim that a socialist society (state ownership of capital goods) cannot allocate resources efficiently because of the absence of competitive market prices.

All the participants in this debat would agree with this characterization of Mises' challenge, but, as Lavoie argues, they would emphasize different points. Lavoie wants to correct these many different interpretations by drawing attention to the importance Mises attached to the concept of "competition" --- what Lavoie calls rivalry.

Lavoie uses the word rivalry because economic theory has a peculiar idea of the nature and character of competition. For economists, competition is a Pareto-optimal state of affairs in which all prices converge to equilibrium and market agents are act in the capacity of passive price takers. Dynamic, rivalrous, entrepreneurial price war behavior are generally seen by the profession as being crude representations of pure and perfect competition.

This understanding of competition is responsible, Lavoie argues in this book, for the confusion that surrounds the calculation debate. Mises and his followers (Robbins and Hayek) had a different view of the essential features of a competitive market economy than did their interlocutors. For the market socialists, there is a formal similarity between capitalism and socialism, enabling them to argue that socialism could reproduce the results of perfect competition, thus making the free and unhampered market unnecessary for the generation of efficient market prices.

That is the basic thesis of Lavoie's book.
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