I recently came across two interesting articles by Rabah Benkemoune. Unfortunately, theyre not accessible for free unless you have university access in which case you can read Charles Dunoyer and the Emergence of the Idea of an Economic Cycle and Gustave de Molinari’s Bourse Network Theory: A Liberal Response to Sismondis Informational Problem.
Benkemounes thesis is that Dunoyer and Molinari were among the few 19th-century French liberal theorists to take seriously Sismondis argument that governmental regulation is needed because informational problems pose an insuperable obstacle to the markets ability to equilibrate. While most liberals in the Say tradition dismissed Sismondi by insisting that markets would equilibrate just fine were it not for government intervention, Dunoyer and Molinari agreed with Sismondi that there are genuine informational problems (including, for Dunoyer, a business cycle) inherent in even the freest market, but rejected Sismondis proposed legislative solution.
Instead, Dunoyer and Molinari argued that: a) the informational problems were in large part remediable by non-governmental means, whether education or institutional innovation (the latter including, for Molinari, informational networks such as his idea of labour-exchanges); b) to the extent that such problems are not remediable, they can be expected to be fairly mild in a genuinely free market; c) any attempted governmental solutions would face even greater informational problems.
Benkemoune also includes some discussion of Dunoyers and Molinaris relationship to the Austrian school.
In related news, Annelien de Dijns recent book French Political Thought from Montesquieu to Tocqueville: Liberty in a Levelled Society? includes a fair bit of discussion of Dunoyer and the Censeur group. (Amazon offers the book at a hefty price, but its not hard to find the entire text for free online if you poke about a bit.)
Its nice to see the industriels getting more scholarly attention.
Should there be a link at “idea of labour-exchanges”?
Thanks for catching that! Turns out I’d left the = sign out of the link. So the problem was a lack of equality.
Oh the equality was already there, it just has to be made explicit sometimes 😉