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Professor Emeritus John McCombie , MA (Cantab), MA (McMaster), PhD (Cantab), FAcSS, FeRSA.

Professor Emeritus John McCombie, , MA (Cantab), MA (McMaster), PhD (Cantab), FAcSS, FeRSA.

Emeritus Professor John McCombie

Senior Emeritus Fellow of the Department of Land Economy

Emeritus Fellow in Economics and Land Economy, Downing College

Director, Cambridge Centre for Economics and Public Policy

Director of Studies in Land Economy at Christ's College, Downing College and Girton College

Office Phone: (01223) 337160

Key Publications



The Aggregate Production Function and the Measurement of Technical Change

  • The Aggregate Production function and the Measurement of Technical Change "Not Even Wrong"  .

    “This is a very important book. Proofs that aggregate production functions do not exist have been around for more than 50 years. This casts doubt not only on macroeconomic theory but also on empirical work and policy. Yet, this has not deterred macro-economists. The authors show in great detail that the apparent “fit” of such functions to value-based data is a tautology and not a proof that such aggregates exist. One hopes that the profession will finally take note.”
    – Franklin M. Fisher, Jane Berkowitz Carlton and Dennis William Carlton Professor of Microeconomics, Emeritus, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US.

  • Missing Links in the Unemployment Relationship, editor (with P. Arestis), (2009), Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan,
  • Unemployment: Past and Present, editor (with P. Arestis), (2009), Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.
  • Economic Growth. New Directions in Theory and Policy,(2007), editor (with P. Arestis and M.C. Baddeley), Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
  • Issues in Finance and Monetary Policy, editor (with C. Rodriguez Gonzalez), (2007), Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.
  • The European Union: Current Problems and Prospects editor (with C Rodriguez Gonzalez), (2007), Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan
  • The New Monetary Policy, Implications and Relevance, editor (with P. Arestis and M.C. Baddeley), (2006), Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
  • Development and Economic Growth: Essays in Honour of A.P.Thirlwall editor, (with P. Arestis and R. Vickerman), (2006), Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
  • Essays on Balance of Payments Constrained Growth (with A.P. Thirlwall), (2004), Routledge.
  • Globalisation, Regionalism and Economic Activity, editor (with P. Arestis and M.C. Baddeley), (2003), Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.
  • Productivity Growth and Economic Growth: Essays on Verdoorn’s Law, editor (with M. Pugno and B. Soro), (2002), Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • What Global Economic Crisis?, editor (with P. Arestis and M.C. Baddeley), (2001), Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan,
  • Economic Growth and the Balance-of-Payments Constraint (with A.P. Thirlwall), (1994) Basingstoke: Macmillan.

Other Publications

Papers (Since 2008)

"Impacts of Trade Liberalization on Countries’ Sectoral Structure of Production and Trade: A Structural Decomposition Analysis", (with G.R. Magacho and J.J. M Guilhoto), Structural Change and Economic Dynamics (2018), (forthcoming).

 "Thirlwall's law and the Specification of Export and Import Functions", (with J.P. Romero), Metroeconomica, (2018), 69(2), 366-395.

 A sectoral explanation of per capita income convergence and divergence: estimating Verdoorn’s law for countries at different stages of development", (with G.R. Magacho), Cambridge Journal of Economics (2018) (forthcoming).

 "Brexit and its Possible Implications for the UK Economy and its Regions: A Post‐Keynesian Perspective", (with M.R.M. Spreafico), Papers in Regional Science, (2018), 97(1), 133-149.

 “Some unpleasant Currency-devaluation Arithmetic in a Post Keynesian Macromodel”, (with R.S.M. Ribeiro, and G.T. Lima), Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, (2017), 40(2), 145-167.

 “Verdoorn’s Law and Productivity Dynamics: An Empirical Investigation into the Demand and Supply Approaches”, (with G.R. Magacho), Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, (2017), 40(4), 600-621.

 “Productivity Growth of Cities of the Province of Jiangsu, China. A Kaldorian Approach”, (with MRM Spreafico), International Review of Applied Economics, (2017), 32(4), 1-17

 “Exchange Rate, Income Distribution and Technical Change in a Balance-of-Payments Constrained Growth Model”, (with Ribeiro, R.S.M. and G.T. Lima), Review of Political Economy, (2016), 28(4), 545-565.

 “Differences in Increasing Returns between Technological Sectors: A Panel Data Investigation Using the EU KLEMS database”, (with J.P. Romero), Journal of Economic Studies, (2016), 43(5), 863-878.

“The Multi-Sectoral Thirlwall’s Law: Evidence from 14 developed European Countries Using Product-Level Data”, (with J.P. Romero), International Review of Applied Economics, (2016), 30(3), 301-325.

“Could the Icelandic Banking Collapse of 2008 have been Prevented? The Role of Economists Prior to the Crisis”, (with M.R.M. Spreafico), Intervention: European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies, (2016), 13(3), 323-338.

Hein E. and Lavoie, M “Interview with John McCombie: ‘I think there's absolutely no way out for them: an aggregate production function does not make any sense at all!’ ”, Intervention: The European Journal of Economics and Public Policy, (2016), 12,1-6.

“Kaldor’s ‘Technical Progress Function’ and Verdoorn’s Law Revisited”, (with M.R.M. Spreafico), Cambridge Journal of Economics, (2015), 40(4), 1117-1136.

 “The Aggregate Production Function: ‘Not Even Wrong’ ”, (with J. Felipe), Review of Political Economy (2014), 26(1), 60-84.

 “Balance-of-Payments Constrained Growth, Structural Change, and the Thai Economy”, (with N. Tharnpanich), Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, (2014), 35(4), 569-598.

 “No End to the Consensus in Macroeconomic Theory? A Methodological Inquiry”, (with M. Pike), American Journal of Economics and Sociology, (2013), 72(2), 497-528.

 “On Herbert Simon’s Criticisms of the Cobb-Douglas and the CES Production Functions”, (with J. Felipe), Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, (2011/12), 34 (2), 275-293

 “Lessons Not Learnt: From the Collapse of Long-Term Capital Management to the Subprime Crisis” (with N.F.B. Allington and M. Pike), Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, (2012), 34 (4), 555-582

 “Criticisms and Defences of the Balance-of-Payments Constrained Growth Model: Some Old, Some New”, PSL Quarterly Review. (formerly Banca Nazionale Quarterly Review). (2012), 64(259).

 “Some Caveats in Modelling Technical Progress and Investment: The Case of China”, (with J. Felipe), Journal of International Commerce, Economics and Policy, (2011), 2(2),305-324.

 “The Failure of the New Macroeconomic Consensus: From Non-Ergodicity to the Efficient Markets Hypothesis and Back Again”, (with N.F.B. Allington, and M. Pike), International Journal of Public Policy, (2011), 7(1/2/3), 4-21.

 “Is Pakistan’s Growth Rate Balance-of-Payments Constrained? Policies and Implications for Development and Growth”, (with J. Felipe), Oxford Review of Development Studies, (2011) 38, 477-496.

 “What is Wrong with Aggregate Production Functions. On Temple’s “Aggregate Production Functions and Growth Economics”, (with J. Felipe), International Review of Applied Economics, (2010), 24(6), 665-684.

 “Are Estimates of Labour Demand Functions Mere Statistical Artefacts?” (with J. Felipe), International Review of Applied Economics, (2009), 23(2), 147-168.

 “Thirlwall's Law and the Long-term Equilibrium Growth Rate: An application to Brazil” (with G. Britto), Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, (2009), 32, 115-136.

 “Increasing Returns and Growth of Industries in the EU Regions: Paradoxes and Conundrums”, (with A. Angeriz and M. Roberts), Spatial Economics Analysis, (2009), 4(2), 147-168.

 “Effective Demand Constrained Growth in a Two-Sector Kaldorian Model”, (with M. Roberts), Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, (2008), 31(1), 57-78.

 “New Estimates of Returns to Scale and Spatial Spillovers for EU Regional Manufacturing, 1986—2002” (with A. Angeriz, and M. Roberts), International Regional Science Review, (2008), 31(1), 62-87.

 ‘Correcting for Biases when Estimating Production Functions: An Illusion of the Laws of Algebra?’ (with J. Felipe and R. Hasan), Cambridge Journal of Economics, (2008), 32 (3), pp.441-459.

Chapters in Books

 “Capital Controls and the Icelandic Banking Collapse: An Assessment”, (with M.R.M. Spreafico) in Arestis, P (ed.), Financial Liberalisation, (2016), Springer International Publishing.

 “How Sound are the Foundations of the Aggregate Production Function?”, (with J. Felipe) in G.C. Harcourt and P. Kriesler (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Post-Keynesian Economics, (2013) Oxford, Oxford University Press.

 “Criticisms and Defences of the Balance of Payments Constrained Growth Model. Some Old Some New” in E. Soukiazis and P. A. Cerqueira (eds), Models of Balance of Payments Constrained Growth; History Theory and Empirical Evidence, (2012), Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

 “The Problem of Young People Not in Employment, Education or Training:

Is there a ‘Neet’ Solution?”, (with M. Pike) in P. Arestis (ed.) Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and Economic Policy, Festschrift in Honour of Malcolm Sawyer, (2012), Palgrave Macmillan.

 “The Impact of the Subprime Financial Crisis on the Transition and Central Asian Economies: Causes and Consequences”, (with N.F.B. Allington) in P. Arestis, R. Sobreira and J. L. Oreiro (eds) An Assessment of the Global Impact of the Financial Crisis, (2011) Basingstoke, Palgrave Macmillan.

 “The Thatcher Monetarist Experiment, 1979-1986: A Retrospective View” in G. Fontana, J.S.L. McCombie, and M. Sawyer, (eds) Macroeconomics, Finance and Money: Essays in Honour of Philip Arestis, (2010), Houndmills: Palgrave-Macmillan.

 “On Accounting Identities, Simulation Experiments and Aggregate Production Functions: A Cautionary Tale for (Neoclassical) Growth Theorists”, (with J. Felipe) in M. Setterfield, (ed.) Handbook of Alternative Theories of Growth, (2010), Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.

 “On Competing Views of the Importance of Increasing Returns, Cumulative Causation and Path Dependency” (with M. Roberts) in S. Berger (ed.) The Foundations of Non-Equilibrium Economics: The Principle of Circular and Cumulative Causation, (2009), New York and London: Routledge

 “What Can the Labour Demand Function Tell us about Wages and Employment? The Case of the Philippines” (with J. Felipe) in J. Berg, and D. Kucera, (eds) In Defence of Labour Market Institution, (2008), International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Palgrave Macmillan.

 “The ‘Thatcher Experiment’ 1979-1990: Did it Lead to an Economic Renaissance of the UK?” (with N.F.B. Allington) in P. Arestis and J.S.L. McCombie (eds), Missing Links in the Unemployment Relationship, (2008), Basingstoke: Palgrave-Macmillan.