Mechanics meets economics, once again : the "rational economics" project of the Guillaume brothersMechanics meets economics, once again : the "rational economics" project of the Guillaume brothers
Faculty of Applied Economics
5(2015):2, p. 125-156
University of Antwerp
In the 1930s the Swiss brothers Édouard and Georges Guillaume launched an ambitious attempt to found a science of rational economics by analogy with the science of rational mechanics. Their models were intensively discussed by the X-Crise group in Paris, and exerted an influence on the early French contributions to mathematical economics and econometrics. In addition, the Guillaume brothers (hereafter the Guillaumes) created their own research institute in Paris, which applied their models to real world issues and offered its services to the private sector. Later they became involved in attempts to conceive electrical machines which represented the working of the economic system. This paper explores the specific blend of physics and economics proposed by the Guillaumes, and traces the connections between their theoretical work and its more practical manifestations. It examines the background of the Guillaumes, analyses their theoretical contributions, and presents a survey of the activities of their research centre.