János Kornai has achieved a wide-scope multifaceted theoretical analysis moving from Marx to Walras-Lange, then to post-Keynesian disequilibrium economics, and eventually, to Hayek and economic institutionalism. Such a travel is not without meeting dilemmas that Kornai has had to struggle with and opt to resolve them in some way. Such process is illustrated first with a planner's dilemma. On the one hand, Kornai has elaborated on – together with Tamás Lipták – a mathematically ‘super’ solution to finding the optimal plan through a two-level planning procedure. But once implemented the latter has appeared to be too slow, and Kornai has rejected Lange's ideas for Hayek's criticism against central planning. A second dilemma is about how to analyse a centrally-planned shortage (excess demand) economy in which those industries privileged in the planners' pecking order priorities were producing an excess supply of (useless) goods. Kornai did not find a solution in the current disequilibrium economics but, instead, in a ‘lax’ communist bureaucracy generating a soft budget constraint. The third dilemma is that Kornai's views about disequilibria have not converged with the Post-Keynesian disequilibrium models. The latter were unable to conceive a simultaneous excess demand and excess supply in a same market, due to their so-called shorter-side rule. Instead, Kornai has found a solution that fits with theorising the observed micro (or even infra-micro) disequilibria in a Debreu's book, some years after having published a hard criticism of neo-classical microeconomics. A final question is raised: is Kornai's theory a decisive contribution to the analysis of comparative economic systems – that no one denies – or has he added some value to a more general theory of economic disequilibrium?
Andreff, W. (1986): Compte rendu de J. Kornai ‘Socialisme et économie de la pénurie’ (Review of ‘Economics of Shortage’). Revue d’Economie Politique, 96(1): 68–73.
Andreff, W. (1986): Compte rendu de J. Kornai ‘Socialisme et économie de la pénurie’ (Review of ‘Economics of Shortage’). Revue d’Economie Politique, 96(1): 68–73.)| false