In 1976, Robert Lucas explicitly criticized Keynesian macroeconometric models for their inability to correctly predict the effects of alternative economic policies. Today, most contemporary macroeconomists and some historians of economics consider that Lucas’s critique led forcefully to an immediate disqualification of the Keynesian macroeconometric approach. This narrative is based on the interpretation of the Lucas critique as a fundamental principle for economic reasoning that was (and still is) logically unquestionable. We consider that this narrative is problematic both in terms of historiography and the effects that it can have in the field as a way of assigning importance and credit to particular macroeconomists. Indeed, the point of view of the Keynesian economists is missing despite the fact that they were the target of Lucas’s paper and that throughout the 1970s and 1980s they produced a fierce reaction against it. In this article we analyze the reactions by a broad set of authors (which we label “Keynesians”) that disputed the relevance of the critique. In spite of their diversity in methodological, theoretical, and policy issues, these reactions were characterized by their common questioning of the empirical and practical relevance of the Lucas critique.
Lucas and Sargent’s “After Keynesian Macroeconomics” is considered as a cornerstone of macroeconomics history and is supposed to have seriously undermined “Keynesian” approach to macroeconometric modelling. I study the context of this article, its writing, its presentation in a conference with many advocates of large-scale models and the debates that followed. I demonstrate that the issue of stagflation was closely linked to Lucas and Sargent’s argument, and the opposition of “Keynesians” relied on their different interpretation of stagflation. I show this interpretation of stagflation led to a different research program, which has been overlooked by history of macroeconomics.
The purpose of this article is to provide a better explanation of the reactions of the Keynesian macroeconometricians to the Lucas Critique in the years following its publication and, finally, to provide a better explanation of the success of the Lucas Critique. Our explanation will be based on an interpretation of “Econometric Policy Evaluation” both as a positive and as a prescriptive statement. We think that this duality is present as well in Lucas's paper and in the reactions to it. This allows us to better understand why Kenesians did not provide a global, pertinent, convincing response to Lucas, which weakened their position inside the profession.