Reconciling Hayek's and Keynes' Views of Recessions

Paul Beaudry, Dana Galizia, and Franck Portier


Recessions often happen after periods of rapid accumulation of houses, consumer durables and business capital. This observation has led some economists, most notably Friedrich Hayek, to conclude that recessions often reflect periods of needed liquidation resulting from past over-investment. According to the main proponents of this view, government spending or any other form of aggregate demand policy should not be used to mitigate such a liquidation process, as doing so would simply result in a needed adjustment being postponed. In contrast, ever since the work of Keynes, many economists have viewed recessions as periods of deficient demand that should be countered by activist fiscal policy. In this paper we reexamine the liquidation perspective of recessions in a setup where prices are flexible but where not all trades are coordinated by centralized markets. The model illustrates why liquidations likely cause recessions characterized by deficient aggregate demand and accordingly suggests that Keynes' and Hayek's views of recessions may be closely linked. In our framework, interventions aimed at stimulating aggregate demand face a trade-off whereby current stimulus postpones the adjustment process and therefore prolongs the recessions, but where some stimulative policies may nevertheless remain desirable.


Business Cycle; Unemployment; Liquidations;

JEL codes

  • E32: Business Fluctuations • Cycles


Paul Beaudry, Dana Galizia, and Franck Portier, Reconciling Hayek's and Keynes' Views of Recessions, TSE Working Paper, n. 16-735, November 2016.

See also

Published in

The Review of Economic Studies, 2017, forthcoming