martes, 4 de septiembre de 2012

J.A. Schumpeter (desde su biografía - 18)


“In Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, Schumpeter next mounts a spirited assault on the idea of “perfect competition,” a key theoretical tool used by academic economists in his own time and in ours as well. Models of perfect competition cannot take business strategy into consideration because they assume that every industry contains innumerable firms, each of which is by definition too weak to affect the economic landscape through strategic behavior. Perfect competition assumes unlimited numbers of both buyers and sellers, all of whom possess complete information about all product and services being bought and sold. Such models contemplate frictionless transactions, with no need for lawyers, accountants, brokers, partnerships, corporations, contracts, or other essential accoutrements of actual business.

Perfect competition lends itself very well to mathematical modeling, however, and that advantage has been almost irresistible to economists. But because it neglects the dynamics of creative destruction, Schumpeter finds perfect competition wholly unsuitable for understanding a modern capitalist economy. When, for example, a new product or process is introduced, all buyers and sellers cannot possible have complete information about potential markets. “As a matter of fact,” Schumpeter writes, “perfect competition is and always has been temporarily suspended whenever anything new is being introduced.” And the continual emergence of new products and new ways of doing things is “the fundamental impulse that sets and keeps the capitalist engine in motion.”

Despite its irrelevance to perfect competition, he continues, big-business capitalism has proved its superiority, in the long run, at expanding total output and raising living standards: “The actual efficiency of the capitalist engine of production in the era of the largest-scale units has been much greater that in the preceding era of small or medium-sized ones. This is a matter of statistical record… the technological and organizational possibilities [of firms in the perfect competition model] could never have produced similar results. How modern capitalism would work under perfect competition is hence a meaningless question.”

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