Juglar, ClÉment

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Juglar, ClÉment



Clément Juglar (1819–1905), French economist, was the son of a physician and himself a doctor. He made a good record at medical school, culminating in a noteworthy thesis on the influence of heart disease on the lungs. The fact that he began his career as a doctor left a deep imprint on his method of analyzing economic phenomena. He was de- voted to experimental science all his life and applied to the field of economics his care for exact, precise, and measurable facts.

The change in his career was apparently caused by the political and economic events of 1848. The shift was not sudden, however; he had already written several articles on trends in French population statistics from 1772 to 1849. These articles form a link between his interests as a physician and his interests an an economist, since they are based on a search for the relationship of demographic phenomena, such as births, marriages, deaths, etc., to the country’s wealth. It is not surprising that as a former physician Juglar should see an analogy between changes in France’s wealth and fluctuations in human health. Wealth is not a constant: it oscillates and is subject to serious depressions; it results from the common life of many cells, some of which must occasionally be eliminated, not without pain, in order for life to continue.

Starting with this fundamental image Juglar was attracted to the study of economic crises. He had already set forth his early formulation of the problem in two articles (1856; 1857) when the subject of commercial crises was proposed for a contest by the Académic des Sciences Morales et Politiques. In 1862 Juglar submitted Des crises commerciales et de leur retour périodique en France, en Angle-terre et aux États-Unis (“Commercial Crises and Their Periodic Recurrence in France, England, and the United States”) and won. It was expanded and republished together with a series of articles in 1889; it is Juglar’s main work and made him the first cycle theorist.

Before Juglar, efforts had been made to find the causes of crises—the sudden and visible occurrence of such events as rapidly falling prices, stock market crashes, commercial failures, unemployment, etc. Such crises were attributed to many different factors, among them bad harvests, wars, and excessive issuance of paper money. Juglar considered crises within the larger framework of the economic cycle, of which the crisis is but one phase. He looked for an explanation of cycles, or the fact that crises appear at approximately regular intervals after a phase of prosperity and preceding a phase of liquidation; each of these phases contains within itself the succeeding one. In a period of prosperity prices rise and production increases. In a crisis, which is felt in all sectors of the economy, prices fall, whereupon health is gradually restored. As a crisis is liquidated, the economy, and particularly credit, may be said to be healed.

Juglar’s search for an explanation of cycles was made in three stages. To begin with, in order to analyze the phenomenon scientifically he gave a clear and precise history of economic crises in Great Britain, France, and the United States, which he built up from a large number of economic time series (prices, interest rates, gold prices, central bank balances, etc.). Second, on examining these statistical series and studying their minima and maxima, Juglar discovered an almost uniform periodicity, with the cycles breaking down into phases (between 1803 and 1882 he found 14 cycles with an average duration of six years). Only in the third stage of his analysis did he try to construct an explanatory theory of the cycle. He considered crises, since they exist potentially in the period of prosperity, as inevitable. Prosperity gives rise not only to optimistic activity but also to the abuse of credit and the saturation of consumption. Crises are the direct result of the excesses of prosperity; they are a necessary purge of the economic system and occur when fear replaces euphoria. The basic reason for these crises lies in human nature, which is as much given to excesses of confidence as it is to excesses of fear.

Juglar’s political attitude toward business cycles is liberal (laissez-faire). Nothing should be done to try to prevent a crisis because it is necessary. It is useful, however, to predict a crisis in order to attenuate the effects of surprise. Juglar himself became “the prophet of crises”: his studies of the uneven growth of the portfolios of banks and of their metallic reserves make him a forerunner of the constructors of economic barometers.

All modern work on the business cycle has its starting point in Juglar; he was a precursor both as theoretician and as statistician. Methods and data have become richer, and the purpose of business cycle theory has changed from merely trying to foresee a crisis to trying to prevent it. Nonetheless, Schumpeter rightly named the 7-year to 11-year cycles after the man who blazed the trail for the study of economic fluctuations.

Juglar taught statistics in Paris at the École Libre des Sciences Politiques; he founded the Société de Statistique de Paris; he was a member of the Comité des Travaux Historiques et Scientifiques (Section des Sciences Économiques et Sociales) attached to the Ministère de 1’Instruction Publique et des Beaux Arts; he was also a member of the Institut International de la Statistique and vice-president of the Société d’Économie Politique, Paris. In 1892 he was elected to the Académie des Sciences Morales et Politiques.

Juglar, a sincere and somewhat austere Catholic, regarded moral progress as more important than material progress; however, he did have a certain interest in social problems and accepted the presidency of the Société d’Économie Sociale, Paris. He was also a cultivated amateur of painting and classical music.

AndrÉ Marchal

[For discussion of the subsequent development of Juglar’s ideas, see Business Cycles; Business Cycles; and the biographies of Aftalion; Kondratieff; Schumpeter.]


1856 Des crises commerciales. Annuaire de ľéconomie politique et de la statistique 13: 555–581.

1857 Situation comparée de la Banque d’Angleterre et de la Banque de France, d’aprés les comptes rendus officiels pendant les crises commerciales depuis 1799. Journal des économistes Second Series 16: 262–263.

(1862) 1889 Des crises commerciales et de leur retour périodique en France, en Angleterre et aux États-Unis. 2d ed. Paris: Guillaumin. → Partially translated as A Brief History of Panics and Their Periodical Occurrence in the United States; published by Putnam in 1916.

1865 Banque De France, ParisExtraits des enquêtes parlementaires anglaises sur les questions de banque, de circulation monétaire et de credit. Translated and published under the supervision of Paul J. Coullet and Clément Juglar. 8 vols. Paris: Furne.

1868 Du change et de la liberté d’émission. Paris: Guillaumin.

1884 a Les banques de dépôt, d’escompte et d’émission: Résumé comparé de leur histoire et de leur organisation. Nancy (France): Berger–Levrault.

1884 b La crise de New-York: Les chéques certifiés; les certificats du clearing-house. L’économiste franéçais 12, no. 2:191–192.

1891 Crises commerciales. Volume 1, pages 641–650 in Léon Say and Joseph Chailley-Bert (editors), Nouveau dictionnaire d’economic politique. Paris: Guillaumin.


Beauregard, Paul 1909 Notice sur la vie et les travaux de M. Clément Juglar. Académic des Sciences Morales et Politiques, Revue des travaux . . . et comptesrendus de ses séances 171:153–179

Des crises commerciales . . . , par Clément Juglar[A Book Review of]. 1890 Journal of the Royal Statistical Society 53:158–159.

Mangelsdorf, Friedrich-Siegmund 1930 Clément Juglars Krisenbarometer: Seine Grundlagen und seine Bedeutung. Berlin: Möller & Borel.