Sunday, October 29, 2006

Hanged By ROPE

Steven Pressman, the editor of the Review of Political Economy, following the advice of the referees, has rejected my paper, "Creating Two-Good Reswitching Examples". My paper is mathematically correct, but the reviewers had good reasons for rejecting it. One reviewer thought I did not make a point that I should have:
"As students of Hicks (1965), Spaventa (1968), and Garegnani (1970) know, it is easy to generate examples of reswitching if the 'machine' is unique to the technique. This means that whenever a process is changed in one sector, it must be changed in the other sector as well. One is not therefore dealing with variable proportions of physically unchanged inputs as one considers different techniques. Anyone committed to the latter view as the 'meaning of technical choice' might therefore be suspicious of reswitching results. It is all the more important for the author of this paper to emphasize the fact that a mere variation in the proportions of physically unchanged inputs is sufficient to generate reswitching when there are three inputs: labor and two produced goods in each sector. This is the strength of the argument, but the point is never made. Emphasizing it would make the paper much more interesting. Otherwise, why would an instructor, interested in teaching reswitching, not just use the Hicks/Spaventa/Garegnani model?"

I guess I went overboard in refusing to point out how reswitching has been used to critique (versions of) neoclassical theory. The above reviewer also noted that it is not so easy to create a reswitching example that satisfies the constraints I point out. Two reviewers, by recasting the problem, showed me that section two can be made simpler. Two reviewers also show me how to greatly simplify sections four and five. The first, second, and sixth sections will need to be rewritten to take account of changes in the other sections, if I rewrite this paper. However, I still feel justified in recommending the first, second, and sixth sections as a tutorial introduction to reswitching.

Naturally, I would prefer to have written a paper suitable for publication. And the ROPE reviewers took slightly longer than is promised by the journal. Nevertheless, I would like to express my appreciation for the reviewers' solid engagement with my paper and their thorough examination. If I am to rewrite this paper and submit if for publication elsewhere, I will find their comments extremely helpful. I'm not going to get right to that. I am first attempting to write a paper by focusing some of my examination of the relationship between capital-theoretic "paradoxes" and General Equilibrium theory.

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