"‘Periodic crises’: Clément Juglar between theories of crises and theories of business cycles".  Research in the History of Economic Thought and Methodology, 2010, vol. 28A, pp. 169-283.


This article examines the contribution of Clément Juglar to the theory of periodic crises in the context of the evolution of the doctrine towards the middle of the nineteenth century. Juglar's original contribution (1862) and its evolution to the final form of his doctrine are described in Section 2.

The state of the reflections on the various ingredients of Juglar's approach by his contemporaries are discussed in Section 3, which shows that on most counts Juglar was only taking up development that were common ground for most writers at the time (e.g., his reference to periodicity, his reliance on overtrading and speculation, his reference to prosperity as the 'natural' state of the system, the usage of medical metaphors, etc.) or was preceded by other writers (e.g. in his reflections on causality and instability).

Section 4 discusses Juglar's position in the transition from the theories of crises of the nineteenth century to the theories of cycles of the twentieth century. It is suggested that such a division of the field in two parts is not really adequate to characterize the development of the theory, and that a four-fold partition is necessary, as the theories of 'recurring crises' (such as Juglar's) are different from both the theories prevalent in the early nineteenth century, which saw crises as disconnected events, and the theories of the cycle, which saw not only crises as recurring following the same scheme, but as following a recurrent causal scheme, with each phase non only succeeding each other, but causing it.

Section 5 draws some conclusions on the role of Juglar in the history of business cycle theories, showing that this is not straightforward as it is commonly depcted.

Table of contents

1. Introduction
2. Juglar’s views on periodical crises
2.1. Laying out the premises
2.1.1. Repetitious facts and recurring crises
2.1.2. Causality and rhetorics
2.1.3. Instability, periodicity and the morphology of crises
2.1.4. Prosperity as the normal state of the system
2.2. Revising, adding, and deepening
2.2.1. The causal chaining of phases
2.2.2. Miscellaneous observations
3. Crises and cycles at Juglar’s time
3.1. Statistical tables and diagrams
3.2. The periodicity of crises
3.3. The phases of the commercial round of course
3.4. Again on the periodicity of crises: recurrence vs. regularity
3.5. Credit, speculation, prices and overtrading
3.6. The medical metaphor and the mysterious tendency to self-adjustment
3.7. Crises and progress
3.8. Proximate causes and vera causa of crises
3.8.1. Epistemology and rhetoric
3.8.2. Robert Cockburn
3.8.3. Jean-Edmond Briaune
3.8.4. Isaac Preston Cory
3.8.5. James Anthony Lawson
3.8.6. Charles Coquelin
3.8.8. John Mills
3.8.9. William Stanley Jevons
3.9. Equilibrium and the ‘natural’ state of the system
3.9.1. Crises and equilibrium
3.9.2. The onset of recovery
3.9.3. Some early attempts to identify the conditions for a self-sustained advance
3.10. Instability
4. Cycles or recurring crises?
4.1. From crises to cycles
4.2. The normal and the pathological
4.2.1. Prosperity as the ‘normal’ or ‘healty’ state of the system
4.2.2. The normality of the cycle and the euthanasia of crises
4.3. The necessity of crises and the automatism of cycles
4.3.1. The rhythm of economic life
4.3.2. Economic liberalism and the automatism of crises and recovery
4.3.3. Back to ‘recurring crises’
5. Conclusion