Dictionary reconstructions of the history of the theories of crises and cycles. A meta-taxonomy, Ch. 4 of Crises and cycles in economic dictionaries and encyclopedias, edited by Daniele Besomi, London: Routledge.

This chapter surveys the classificatory approaches of business cycles and crises theories found in dictionary articles. These are found to belong to a surprisngly small number of types. At first, dictionary writers only cited the theories they wanted to disprove. Then (especially in Germany in the second half of the 19th century), writers were classified according to their acceptance, or rejection, of Say’s law, or depending on their political views. When cycles theories had completely displaced the previous emphasis on crises, the dividing line run through the ‘old’ or ‘new’ approaches (interwar years). Up to the 1950s, emphasis moved onto the classification of the causes of cycles, and a bit later on the formal proprties of models. Finally, a more fundamental line of division was sought, considering theories in the context of different economic schools, or again with respect to the acceptance of Say’s law, or on the emphasis on endogenous or exogenous causes, or on the stability of equilibrium.

Presentation of the project