ⓘ Maurice Allais

Maurice Allais

ⓘ Maurice Allais

Maurice Felix Charles Allais was a French physicist and economist, the 1988 winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences "for his pioneering contributions to the theory of markets and efficient utilization of resources", for Maurice Allais contribution, along with John Hicks and Paul Samuelson, to neoclassical synthesis. They formalize the self-regulation of markets, that Keynes refuted, while reiterating some of his ideas.

Born in Paris, France, Allais attended the Lycee Lakanal, graduated from the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris and studied at the Ecole nationale superieure des mines de Paris. His academic and other posts have included being Professor of Economics at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Mines de Paris since 1944 and Director of its Economic Analysis Centre since 1946. In 1949, he received the title of doctor-engineer from the University of Paris, Faculty of Science. He also held teaching positions at various institutions, including at the University of Paris X-Nanterre. His first works oriented him towards the sciences of the concrete and the experiments of fundamental physics, on which he will also publish numerous works, notably on pendular oscillations and the laws of gravitation. Its after a trip in 1933 to the United States during the Great Depression, that he decides to make the economy. Allais died at his home in Saint-Cloud, near Paris, at the age of 99.

Allais considered Leon Walras, Wilfredo Pareto, and Irving Fisher to be his primary influences. He was reluctant to write in or translate his work into English, and many of his major contributions became known to the dominant community only when they were independently rediscovered or popularized by English-speaking economists. At the same time, he claimed Keyness liberalism and declared himself in favor of an important public sector. Allais attended the inaugural meeting of the Mont Pelerin Society, but he was alone among the attendees to refuse to sign the statement of aims because of a disagreement over the extent of property rights. He exerted an important influence, at the end of the war, on French economists such as Gerard Debreu, Jacques Lesourne, Edmond Malinvaud and Marcel Boiteux.

Paul Samuelson said Had Allais earliest writings been in English, a generation of economic theory would have taken a different course", and felt the Nobel Prize should have been awarded to him much earlier. Assar Lindbeck, the chairman of the selection committee considered Allais as "a giant within the world of economic analysis".


1. Contribution as an economist

Author of several theoretical and applied economics studies, his work has focused on the development of mathematical economics, especially in the fields of general equilibrium theory, capital theory, decision theory, and monetary policy. A pioneer in macroeconomic monetary analyses, the economist has been authoritative for his theoretical studies of risk, illustrated by his famous paradox: "the less the risk is, the more speculators flee." He has also been a pioneer in various fields such as the role of central banks and the pricing of public services.


1.1. Contribution as an economist Inspired at first by Walras

His first book develops the microeconomic aspect. With Traite deconomie pure, which he wrote between January 1941 and July 1943, based on his contributions, along with Hicks and Samuelson, to the concept of neoclassical synthesis. He anticipates several of the propositions and theorems put forward by Hicks, Samuelson and others, sometimes giving them a more general and rigorous formulation. In particular, he demonstrates the equivalence theorems that Kenneth Arrow and Gerard Debreu will find in 1954: "Every equilibrium situation in a market economy is a situation of maximum efficiency, and reciprocally, every situation of maximum efficiency Is a equilibrium situation in a market economy. The market thus ensures economic efficiency and optimal distribution of income in the nation. At the same time, Samuelson exposed the process of trial and error which leads to the equilibrium of markets.

In 1947, in the second part of his work Economie et Interêt, Allais introduced time and currency and thus tackled the dynamics and growth of capitalist economies. Again, he made several proposals, that would be later attributed to other, better-known economists. He introduced the first overlapping generations modelOLG model later popularized and attributed to Paul Samuelson in 1958, introduced the golden rule of optimal growth before Trevor Swan and Edmund Phelps, show that an interest rate equal to the growth rate maximizes consumption. He also described the transaction demand for money rule before William Baumol and James Tobin

He was also responsible for early work in Behavioral economics, which in the US is generally attributed to Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky. In the 1940s, Allais worked on "decision theory" or "theory of choice" under uncertainty and developed a theory of cardinal utility. Due to war conditions and his commitment to publish in French, his work was undertaken independently of Theory of games and economic behavior developed by John von Neumann and Oskar Morgenstern. He formulated the Allais paradox in 1953, which questions the traditional model of rationality of choices and contradicts the expected utility hypothesis. It shows that when confronted with a lottery, an individual does not maximize his hoped-for gains, but rather aims at certainty.


1.2. Contribution as an economist Liberalism and socialism

Although he participated in the Mont Pelerin Society, Allais was convinced of an affinity between liberalism and socialism, stating: "For the true liberal, as for the true socialist, it matters little whether the means of production are privately or collectively owned, so long as the essential goals they pursue, namely efficiency and justice, are achieved." He advocated "competitive planning" as a "possible synthesis of liberalism and socialism." In 1959, he and other French members of Mont Pelerin such as Jacques Rueff established an organization called Mouvement pour une societe libre which spoke readily of a social liberalism that would go "beyond laissez-faire and socialism."


1.3. Contribution as an economist Rejection of the general equilibrium theory

Finally he criticizes the drifts of a discipline that privileges mathematical virtuosity at the expense of realism. With this "new scholastic totalitarianism" he moved away, in the 60s, from the analysis of the general equilibrium developed by Walras and replace it with a study focusing on real markets rather than a utopian market, favoring the study of imbalance and based on the idea of surplus. The economic dynamics are thus characterized by the research, the realization and the distribution of a surplus and there is a general equilibrium when there is no longer any realizable surplus.

Allais’s Hereditary, Relativist and Logistic HRL theory of monetary dynamics contains an original theory of expectations formation that is a genuine alternative to both adaptive and rational expectations. It was praised by Milton Friedman in 1968 with the following words: This work As such, it constitutes a major foolishness, starting from an unbelievable contradiction. Just as attributing the crisis of 1929 to protectionist causes is a historical contradiction. The true origin was already in the careless development of credit in the years preceding it."

In 1992, Maurice Allais criticised the Maastricht Treaty for its excessive emphasis on free trade. He also expressed reservations on the single European currency. In 2005, he expressed similar reservations concerning the European constitution.


2. Contribution in physics

Besides his career in economics, he performed experiments between 1952 and 1960 in the fields of gravitation, special relativity and electromagnetism, to investigate possible links between the fields. He reported three effects:

  • An unexpected anomalous effect in the angular velocity of the plane of oscillation of a paraconical pendulum, detected during two partial solar eclipses in 1954 and 1959. The claimed effect is now called the Allais effect.
  • Anomalous irregularities in optical theodolite measurements, with the same lunisolar periodicities.
  • Anomalous irregularities in the oscillation of the paraconical pendulum with respect to a sidereal diurnal periodicity of 23 hours 56 minutes and tidal periodicity of 24 hours 50 minutes.

Over the years, a number of pendulum experiments were performed by scientists around the world to test his findings. However, the results were mixed.


3. Bibliography

  • Les Conditions monetaires dune economie de marches 1987 ;
  • Growth Without Inflation Croissance sans inflation 1967 ;
  • Les Bouleversements à l’Est. Que faire? 1990 ;
  • Contributions à la theorie generale de lefficacite maximale et des surplus 1990 – quatre memoires de 1964, 1965, 1973 et 1975 ;
  • Le Comportement de l’homme rationnel devant le risque: critique des postulats et axiomes de l’ecole americaine 1953 ;
  • LEurope unie, route de la prosperite 1959 ;
  • La Theorie generale des surplus et leconomie de marches" 1990 – trois memoires de 1967, 1971, 1988 ;
  • The Role of Capital in Economic Development Role du capital dans le developpement economique 1963 ;
  • Nouveaux combats pour lEurope. 1995–2002 ;
  • Pour la reforme de la fiscalite 1990 ;
  • LAlgerie dEvian 1962;
  • Lettre aux Français – CONTRE LES TABOUS INDISCUTES 2009.
  • Pour lindexation 1990 ;
  • La Mondialisation, la destruction des emplois et de la croissance, levidence empirique Ed. Clement Juglar, 2007 - ISBN 978-2-908735-12-3 ;
  • Le Tiers monde au carrefour 1961 ;
  • La Crise mondiale aujourdhui Clement Juglar, 1999 ;
  • LInflation française et la croissance – Mythologies et realite 1974 ;
  • LEurope en crise. Que faire? 2005 ;
  • Combats pour lEurope. 1992–1994 ;
  • LImpot sur le capital et la reforme monetaire 1976 ;
  • Abondance ou misere 1946 ;
  • La Liberalisation des relations economiques internationales – Accords commerciaux ou integration economique 1970 ;
  • Les Lignes directrices de mon oeuvre, Conference Nobel prononcee devant lAcademie royale des Sciences de Suede;
  • Les Fondements comptables de la macro-economique 1954 ;
  • Autoportrait 1989 ;
  • Erreurs et impasses de la construction europeenne 1992 ;
  • Economie pure et rendement social 1945 ;
  • À la recherche dune discipline economique 1943 ;
  • Economie et interêt, 1947 ;
  • LEurope face à son avenir. Que faire? 1991 ;
  • La Gestion des houilleres nationalisees et la theorie economique 1949 ;
  • Reformulation de la theorie quantitative de la monnaie 1965 ;
  • La Theorie generale des surplus 1978 ;