Joan Robinson Quotes

A depression is a situation of self-fulfilling pessimism.

As soon as speculators become an important influence in the market, their business is to speculate on each others behaviour.

Even if the crises that are looming up are overcome and a new run of prosperity lies ahead, deeper problems will still remain. Modern capitalism has no purpose except to keep the show going.

If knowledge develops as capital accumulates, there need be no tendency to diminishing returns, and with constant returns there can be no tendency for the rate of profit to fall.

If there is any law governing the distribution of income between classes, it still remains to be discovered.

It is a popular error that bureaucracy is less flexible than private enterprise. It may be so in detail, but when large scale adaptations have to be made, central control is far more flexible. It may take two months to get an answer to a letter from a government department, but it takes twenty years for an industry under private enterprise to readjust itself to a fall in demand.

It is high time to abandon the mainstream and take to the turbulent waters of truly dynamic analysis.

It is impossible to add the stock of money to the flow of saving.

It is the business of economists, not to tell us what to do, but show why what we are doing anyway is in accord with proper principles.

It is the rate of investment which governs the rate of saving, and not vice versa.

Marx, however imperfectly he worked out the details, set himself the task of discovering the law of motion of capitalism, and if there is any hope of progress in economics at all, it must be in using academic methods to solve the problems posed by Marx.

Once we bring historical time into the argument, it is not so easy to present the free play of the market as an ideal mechanism for maximizing welfare and securing social justice.

Progress is slow partly from mere intellectual inertia. In a subject where there is no agreed procedure for knocking out errors, doctrines have a long life. A professor teaches what he was taught, and his pupils, with a proper respect and reverence for teachers, set up a resistance against his critics for no other reason than that it was he whose pupils they were.

Reality is never a golden age.

The misery of being exploited by capitalists is nothing compared to the misery of not being exploited at all.

The nature of technology depends very much upon what the public can be induced to put up with.

The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.

There is no such thing as a normal period of history. Normality is a fiction of economic textbooks.

Voltaire remarked that it is possible to kill a flock of sheep by witchcraft if you give them plenty of arsenic at the same time. The sheep, in this figure, may well stand for the complacent apologists of capitalism; Marx’s penetrating insight and bitter hatred of oppression supply the arsenic, while the labour theory of value provides the incantations.

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