NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Invisible Hand and Modern Welfare Economics

Joseph E. Stiglitz

NBER Working Paper No. 3641
Issued in March 1991
NBER Program(s):   PE

This paper reviews and puts into perspective recent work reassessing the first and second Fundamental Theorems of Welfare Economics. It assesses the implications of the Greenwald-Stiglitz theorem establishing the (constrained) Pareto inefficiency of market economies with imperfect information and incomplete markets as well as recent work on endogenous technological change. The information theoretic limitations to the Second Fundamental Theorem are also discussed, including the inability to separate out issues of equity and efficiency. The final sections of the paper consider the consequences of these problems for economic organization, economic policy, and the role of ideology in the belief in the Invisible Hand.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w3641

Published: Vines, David and Andrew A. Stevenson (eds.) Information, strategy and public policy. Oxford and Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1991.

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