Paul Samuelson’s Ways to Macroeconomic Dynamics

Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University Working Paper Series

44 Pages Posted: 13 May 2019 Last revised: 10 Jul 2019

Date Written: May 10, 2019


Samuelson kept optimization-based problems separated from macroeconomic dynamics in his Foundations, where dynamics were defined in terms of difference and differential equations. Despite some criticism of his “correspondence principle” of stability analysis by D.F. Gordon, D. Patinkin and others, it was only in the 1970s that Samuelson’s separation was effectively challenged, particularly by R. Lucas. After the Foundations, Samuelson developed dynamic optimization models, sometimes featuring representative agents, but he did not extend that to the study of macroeconomic fluctuations. Neither did he accept market clearing inter-temporal maximization as a solution to the microfoundations problem that beset his models of macroeconomic dynamics. His last contribution to macro dynamics was his 1988 nonlinear non-optimizing business cycle model. Eventually, he disentangled his 1965 “efficient market hypothesis” from rational expectations and claimed that the former should form one of the pillars of macroeconomic dynamics, together with imperfectly competitive markets for goods and labour.

Keywords: Samuelson, macroeconomic dynamics, stability, multiplier-accelerator

JEL Classification: B22, B31, B41

Suggested Citation

Boianovsky, Mauro, Paul Samuelson’s Ways to Macroeconomic Dynamics (May 10, 2019). Center for the History of Political Economy at Duke University Working Paper Series. Available at SSRN: or

Mauro Boianovsky (Contact Author)

Universidade de Brasilia ( email )

Brasilia, DF 70910-900

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