Wesley Clair Mitchell

One of the most prominent American Institutionalists, Wesley Clair Mitchell almost singlehandedly constructed its concern with "business cycle" analysis. Mitchell was a professor at Columbia and one of the first directors of the New School for Social Research (from 1919 to 1931).

Mitchell founded the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) in 1920 in order to pursue quantitative studies of the U.S. business cycle for which that organization has become renowned. His life-long interest in business cycles culminated in his authoritative opus with Arthur F. Burns, Measuring Business Cycles (1946). His two other books on business cycles (1912, 1927) give a view of Mitchell at his best. His students, which include Simon Kuznets, carried on much of Mitchell's work into the post-war period. 

Although he followed the Institutionalists in eschewing agent-based theory, W.C. Mitchell's work was full of theoretical insights about society and the economy and he was a profound scholar of economic theory - as exemplified in his masterful lecture notes (1967). He also wrote many articles in Institutionalist theory.

Major works of Wesley C. Mitchell

  • A History of Greenbacks, 1903.
  • Gold Prices and Wages Under the Greenback Standard, 1908.
  • "The Backward Art of Spending Money", 1912, AER.
  • Business Cycles, 1913.
  • "Review of Aftalion's Les crises  périodiques de surproduction", 1914, AER
  • "Review of Davenport's Economics of Enterprise", 1914, AER
  • The Making and Uses of Index Numbers, 1915.
  • "Wieser's Theory of Social Economics", 1915, PSQ.
  • "The Role of Money in Economic Theory", 1916, AER.
  • "Review of Robertson's Study in Industrial Fluctuation", 1916, AER
  • "Bentham's Felicific Calculus", 1918, PSQ.
  • "Statistics and Government", 1919, JASA.
  • "Review of the Review of Economic Statistics", 1919, AER
  • "Prices and Reconstruction", 1920, AER
  • "Making Goods and Making Money", 1923, Proceedings of AEA.
  • "The Prospects of Economics", 1924, in Tugwell, editor, Trend of Economics.
  • "Quantitative Analysis in Economic Theory", 1925, AER.
  • Business Cycles: The problem and its setting, 1927.
  • "Postulates and Preconceptions of Ricardian Economics", 1929, in Smith and Wright, editors, Essays in Philosophy.
  • "Sombart's Hochkapitalismus", 1929, QJE.
  • "Institutes for Research in the Social Sciences", 1930, Proceedings of Association of American Universities.
  • "The Social Sciences and National Planning", 1935, Science.
  • "Commons on Institutional Economics", 1935, AER.
  • "Intelligence and the Guidance of Economic Evolution", 1936, Scientific Monthly.
  • "Thorstein Veblen", 1936, in What Veblen Taught.
  • The Backward Art of Spending Money: and other essays, 1937.
  • Measuring Business Cycles with A.F. Burns, 1946.
  • What Happens During Business Cycles, 1951.
  • Lecture Notes on Types of Economic Theory, 2 volumes, 1967.

Resources on W.C. Mitchell