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Bernard, Gervorkyan, Palley, Semmler: A Review & Critique of Long Wave Theories

In a previous post (see here), I had argued that the capitalist world economy can be conceived as resting on the dependence of historically-specific hegemonic institutions, whose rise and fall follow the trajectory of long waves, what Giovanni Arrighi defined as systemic cycles of accumulation (SCA's), periods of approximately 40-60 years, separated by A phases and B phases (see here). Lucas Bernard, Aleksandr V. Gervorkyan, Thomas I. Palley, and Willi Semmler, however, offer a penetrating critique of this central tenant of the world-systems tradition.

From the abstract:
This paper explores long wave theory, including Kondratieff’s theory of cycles in
production and relative prices; Kuznets’ theory of cycles arising from
infrastructure investments; Schumpeter`s theory of cycles due to waves of
technological innovation; Goodwin`s theory of cyclical growth based on
employment and wage share dynamics; Keynes – Kaldor – Kalecki demand and
investment oriented theories of cycles; and Minsky’s financial instability
hypothesis whereby capitalist economies show a genetic propensity to boom-bust
cycles. This literature has been out of favor for many years but recent
developments suggest a reexamination is warranted and timely. 
Read rest here.


  1. Just caught this, sorry. Good paper and a needed review, but Arrighi was not a wave-fetishist like others in world systems analysis. In fact, he wrote a rather damning critique in the late 1980s of long wave theories and their attempts to be an explanation of everything. I've put it up here:


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