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Meghnad Jagdishchandra DESAI

Meghnad Jagdishchandra DESAI, economist in the field of General Economic Theory; Economic History; Econometric Models.

Background

  • DESAI, Meghnad Jagdishchandra was born in 1940 in Baroda, Gujarat, India.

  • Education

    • Bachelor of Arts, Master of Arts University Bombay, 1958, 1960. Doctor of Philosophy University Penn, 1964.

    Career

    • Association Specialist, Agriculture Economics, University of California Berkeley, 1963-1965. Lector, Senior Lector of Economics, London School of Economies and Political Science, London, United Kingdom,

      1965-1977, 1977-1980, 1980-1983. Professor of Economics, London School of Economies and Political Science, London, United Kingdom, since 1983.

      Editorial Board, Review of Economic Studies, 1973-1983.

    Works

    Views

    My doctoral research was in applied econometrics of commodity markets and the model of the tin economy (No. 1 above) was the largest commodity model of its kind, the first to be simulated for stabilisation policy. My applied econometric work continued in building macroeconomic models of the United Kingdom economy again with a view to exploring problems of stabilisation policy.

    In the early 1970s, my interests changed to a study of inflation and unemployment. I had always been interested in Marxian economics and am more Keynesian than not. This combination led to my first paper in economic theory which had to do with an extension of Godwin’s model of the growth cycle.

    This interprets the phenomena of inflation and unemployment in a Marx type model. This work led me to a new insight into the nature of the Phillips curve. My 1975 paper (No. 5 above) is unorthodox and original in advancing an interpretation of the Phillips curve that accounts for the econometric method used by Phillips and ties it up with a causal interpretation.

    This is the problem of separating the short-run disequilibrium dynamics which generates the data from the underlying long-run disequilibrium. This is where economic theory and econometric method meet and this area has formed my major research interest in recent years. Moving from an understanding of the nature of Phillips’ work, I concluded that the need was to endogenise unemployment as well as wages and prices but that there were few available models that did the job.

    Goodwin’s model was one. I came across a paper by Stein that purported to test for a Keynesian as against a monetarist explanation of inflation. This led me to a study of the problem of testing the validity of alternative models from the same data act which eventually resulted in the book, Testing Monetarism.

    My other major interest is in Marxian economics. My 1974 book was the first major textbook in this area since Sweezy’s Theory of Capitalist Development. It does three things not previously done in this area.

    It advances the notion that Marxian labour values are not directly observable and hence the valueprice transformation is similar to the econometric problem of going from the reduced form (observable) to the structural (unobservable). It summarises the value-price debate and also brings out the economy-wide nature of the transformation problem. Secondly, the book revised the Marxian notion of the three circuits of capital.

    This is necessary in order to bring out the monetary nature of Marx’s theory usually ignored in earlier discussions. Thirdly, it provides a critique of Marx’s model of accumulation. I show that Marx’s work kills a coherent analysis of the dynamic disequilibrium of capitalism despite assertions to the contrary.

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