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New Left Review I/99, September-October 1976


Richard B. Day

The Theory of the Long Waves: Kondratiev, Trotsky, Mandel

At the mention of long cycles, most economists will recall Joseph Schumpeter’s classic study, Business Cycles. In that work Schumpeter referred to cyclical movements of approximately fifty years in length as ‘Kondratievs’, after the Russian economist N. D. Kondratiev, who was one of the first writers to attempt to provide statistical evidence of such phenomena. In recent years Kondratiev’s name has appeared with increasing frequency not only in business journals, but also in the writings of Ernest Mandel. In his new book, Late Capitalism, Mandel has made a systematic effort to reconcile Kondratiev’s conclusions with the Marxist tradition in general, and with the views of Leon Trotsky in particular. [1] Ernest Mandel, Late Capitalism, nlb, London 1975. The present article will therefore explore some of the more important differences which emerged in various encounters between Trotsky and Kondratiev, and then assess the problems which inhere in Mandel’s endeavour.

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