This text challenges the traditional view of the history of econometrics and provides a more complete story. In doing so, the book sheds light on the hitherto under-researched contribution of French thinkers to econometrics. Fascinating and authoritative, it is a comprehensive overview of what went on to be one of the defining subsets within the economics profession.
Le Gall explains how econometric ideas developed from, and were inspired by philosophical worldviews and scientific paradigms from the nineteenth century. Exploring the methodology of French authors like Cournot, Briaune and Regnault he demonstrates how they were influenced by the natural sciences of their time, rooted as they were in a worldview where natural order and laws played a central role and how, when an organized discipline emerged at the start of the Twentieth century, these econometric ideas intermingled with new worldviews associated with the complexity of the economy.
This book is essential reading for postgraduate students and researchers in the history of economic thought, economic methodology and the history of science as well as econometricians at all levels.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction: Unifying Econometrics Part 1: Natural Econometrics and the 'System of the World' 2. The Secrets of the Beehive: Cournot’s 'Law of Sales' as Natural Econometrics 3. The Formation of Agricultural Prices, Economic Cycles and Natural Order: Briaune’s Social Meteorology 4. Natural Laws on the Stock Market: Regnault’s 'financial physics' Part II. The Rise of Twentieth Century Econometrics and the 'Unity of Orchestration' 5. Statistical Socioeconomics for the Masses: March Attacks 6. 'If We Suppose that…': Lenoir and the Artificial Worlds of Econometrics 7. Conclusion: From Nature to Models
Philippe Le Gall is Professor of Economics at the University of Angers, France and a member of the research groups History and Methodology of Economics at the University of Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and EconomiX (University Paris-Nanterre, France). His research mainly covers the history of econometrics and of economic modeling, and has been published in History of Political Economy, the European Journal for the History of Economic Thought, and in many edited books.