Economic wave theory

May 3, 2017
Edelson Paint Painting

Nikolai Dmyitriyevich Kondratieff (1892 - 1938)

Who Was Kondratieff?

To introduce the Kondratieff Theory, we must go back over seventy years and examine a remarkable story in economic history, encompassed within the life of one still little known man. I am certain that, in time, Kondratieff will rank with the giants of discovery as Einstein and Newton. Like these men, his insights have begun to alter radically and permanently our perceptions of economic history. The Kondratieff wave cycle goes through four distinct phases of beneficial inflation (spring), stagflation (summer), beneficial deflation (autumn), and deflation (winter). Since, the last Kontratyev cycle ended around 1949, we have seen beneficial inflation 1949-1966, stagflation 1966-1982, beneficial deflation 1982-2000 and according to Kondratieff, we are now in the (winter) deflation cycle which should lead to depression.

Professor Nickolai Kondratieff ( pronounced "Kon-DRA-tee-eff") Shortly after the Russian Revolution of 1917, he helped develop the first Soviet Five-Year Plan , for which he analyzed factors that would stimulate Soviet economic growth. In 1926, Kondratieff published his findings in a report entitled, "Long Waves in Economic Life". Based upon Kondratieff's conclusions, his report was viewed as a criticism of Joseph Stalin's stated intentions for the total collectivization of agriculture. Soon after, he was dismissed from his post as director of the Institute for the Study of Business Activity in 1928. He was arrested in 1930 and sentenced to the Russian Gulag (prison); his sentence was reviewed in 1938, and he received the death penalty, which it is speculated was carried out that same year. Kondratieff's major premise was that capitalist economies displayed long wave cycles of boom and bust ranging between 50-60 years in duration. Kondratieff's study covered the period 1789 to 1926 and was centered on prices and interest rates. Kondratieff's theories documented in the 1920's were validated with the depression less than 10 years later.
Today, we are faced with another Kondratieff Winter (depression) when the majority of the world anticipates economic expansion. Each individual needs to weigh the risk of depression in light of Kondratieff's work.

Accumulation and Consumption

U. S. wholesale prices dating back to 1800 show several periods of accumulation followed by periods of over consumption. Because these periods are statistically difficult to measure our outline follows historical events, pinpointing major changes in trend. During periods of relatively cheap prices, assets accumulate. As prices increase, the consumption of assets are necessary to maintain a standard of living. When new production fails to keep up with consumption, due to relatively high prices, the economy begins to decline to another period of cheap prices, and a new growth cycle begins.

Four Phases of One Cycle

A Kondratieff cycle consists of four distinct phases, or distinguishable, dramatic mood changes, the tone of which determines the actions of individuals involved in the economy. The awareness of these characteristics allows for the anticipation of the change in the economy and the psychological mood that will prevail.

SPRING - Inflationary Growth Phase

A common premise among business cycle economists supposes inflation as an inevitable part of growth. Government becomes a passive participant in the inflation cycle. Growth begins from a depressed economic base and expands in an ever-increasing spiral. The interaction of the participants within the economy causes wealth, as represented by savings, and the production of capital equipment to be accumulated for the future. The expansion of production and affluence causes prices to rise, and the increased volume of goods requires a higher velocity of money, thus creating a higher price structure.

Historically, the growth phase requires 25 years to complete. During this time, unemployment falls, wages and productivity rise and prices remain relatively stable. The mood of the growth phase is one of accumulation and the desire for new product manufacture.

Accompanying growth is a shift in social demands. As wealth is accumulated and new innovation introduced great upheavals and displacements take place. The process of social unrest builds with growth culminating in massive shifts in the way work is defined and the role of the participants in society.

SUMMER - Stagflation (Recession)

Eventually, the continuation of exponential growth reaches its limits. Excess capital produces a shortage of key resources and the economy enters a period where growth creates a shortage of resources. An economy will only support expansion to the limits of its resources, both human and material.

The mood of affluence also brings a change in attitude towards work. As an economy gets closer to its limits inefficiencies build up

Share this Post