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X-Crise is an acronym for the Centre de Renseignements et dInformations Sociales et Économiques, an association created by alumni of Frances elite École Polytechnique; this association was later known as the Centre Polytechnicien dÉtudes Économiques (CPEE). X-Crise was formed in 1931 by Gérard Bardet, manager of the Bardet company, who became CPEEs general secretary; André Loizillon, whose career in industry spanned companies from Shneider to Shell and who was CPEEs treasurer for a while and a member of X-Crises transport workshop; and John Nicoletis, a consulting engineer and manager specializing in less-developed countries. X-Crises purpose was to examine the causes of the world economic crisis and propose possible solutions. From a membership of about twenty Polytechniciens in October 1931, it grew to close to two thousand members (not all Polytechniciens ) in 1939, the year the association disbanded. As an open, tolerant, and scientific think tank, X-Crise gathered together liberals (in the French sense of the word; i.e., market-oriented economists) like Clément Colson, Jacques Rueff (both teachers at the Ecole Polytechnique), Alfred Sauvy, and Henri Michel; socialists personalities like John Nicoletis, the tireless Jean Coutrot, Jules Moch (a socialist deputy and close relative of Charles Spinasses), and the French historian Marc Bloch; and centrists such as Gérard Bardet, Auguste Detoeuf (Alsthoms founder), and André Loizillon.

X-Crise was not a research center as one finds in universities. It was a network of Polytechniciens, graduates considered to be part of the elite of the French nation, together with some non-Polytechniciens, all united around a mission: to get France out of economic crisis through intervention both in government, as experts in macroeconomics, and in industry, as managers skilled in the scientific organization of work. But if some of these Polytechniciens had already applied the scientific organization of work to their own firms, none of them, initially, was expert in macroeconomics. Hence, X-Crise organized meetings and published working papers in the École Polytechniques bulletin. Small workshops were created to focus on particular topics like econometrics (Fischman and Lendjel 2000b), transport, finance, foreign experiences, and the study of the present state of the economy. Their members were volunteers; while they published many reports in X-Crises bulletin, they were never academic researchers trying to obtain intellectual fame in France and abroad. Yet because X-Crises aim was also to help Polytechniciens become Frances macroeconomics experts, X-Crise became a magnet for innovative economic studies.

Two bodies of economic work that were very innovative for France in the 1930s have to be mentioned here: Maurice Potrons (Abraham-Frois and Lendjel 2004), and the economic models of François and Georges Guillaume and François Moch (brother of the socialist deputy Jules Moch). Indeed, as early as 1911 Maurice Potron applied Perron-Frobeniuss theorems to a Leontief-type model, in order to find the conditions for the existence of a satisfactory economic regime. He also laid the foundations of input-output analysis in work published in 1912. The works of the Guillaume brothers and of François Moch provided one of the first economic models in France. The Guillaume brothers model (Guillaume 1932; Fischman and Lendjel 2000a) can be considered a draft of the French national accounting system. Mochs model (Moch 19331934; Fischman and Lendjel 1999), designed to explain the positive consequences of a cut in working hours on the level of economic activity, presented some Keynesian arguments. Firstly, it pointed out the important role of demand as an economic motor; secondly, it demonstrated the need for the state to intervene in order to get the economy out of a downward economic spiral; and, thirdly, it made an argument quite close to the acceleration principle of R. F. Kahn that Keynes used. Guillaume and Moch attempted also to test their theoretical models with statistical facts. This led Moch to elaborate an econometric method of interpreting economic cycles.

Even in X-Crise, these works did not have a large audience. But they have had a great impact on subsequent thinking, as have other X-Crise writings and debates. Indeed, as Michel Margairaz wrote, there is no doubt X-Crise has eased Ecole Polytechniques conversion to economics, as well as [that of] the State experts to macroeconomics, more or less explicitly inspired by Keynesianism (Margairaz 1995, p. 181). In fact, before, during, and after World War II, some of X-Crises memberssuch as Charles Spinasse, Georges Boris, Jacques Branger, Jean Coutrot, Georges Guillaume, Louis Rosenstock-Frank, Alfred Sauvy, Jean Ullmo, Robert Gibrat, Lucien Romier, Robert Loustau, Gérard Bardet, Auguste Detoeuf, Louis Vallon, and François Divisiahad high positions in the countrys administration, especially in ministries in charge of economic matters. For example, X-Crise members served in the Ministry of National Economy (MEN in French)a true instrument of political economyin 1936; in the Vichy government in the public works department, in communications, and in the ministry of production; and, finally, in General De Gaulles administration.

SEE ALSO Economics, Keynesian; Potron, Maurice


Abraham-Frois, Gilbert, and Emeric Lendjel. 2004. Les œuvres économiques de labbé Potron. Paris: LHarmattan.

Brun, Gérard, ed. 1982. X-Crise, Centre Polytechniciens dEtudes Economiques: De la récurrence des crises économiques: Son cinquantenaire, 19311981. Paris: Economica.

Desaunay, Guy. 1965. X-Crise: Contribution à létude des idéologies dun groupe de Polytechniciens durant la grande crise économique (19311939). Doctoral thesis, the Sorbonne.

Fischman, Marianne, and Emeric Lendjel. 1999. X-Crise et le débat sur la réduction du temps de travail. In La réduction du temps de travail: Lespace des possibles, eds. Laurent Cordonnier and Nicolas Vaneecloo, 3356. Special issue of the Cahier Lillois dEconomie et de Sociologie.

Fischman, Marianne, and Emeric Lendjel. 2000a. X-Crise et le modèle des frères Guillaume. In Les traditions économiques françaises: 18481939, eds., Pierre Dockès, Ludovic Frobert, Gérard Klotz, Jean-Pierre Potier, and André Tiran, 369382. Paris: C.N.R.S. Editions.

Fischman, Marianne, and Emeric Lendjel. 2000b. La contribution dX-Crise à lémergence de léconométrie en France dans les années trente. Revue Européenne des Sciences Sociales 38 (118): 115134.

Guillaume, Georges, and Edouard Guillaume. 1932. Sur les fondements de léconomique rationnelle. Paris: Gauthier-Villars.

Margairaz, Michel. 1995. Les autodidactes et les experts: X-Crise, Reseaux et parcours intellectuels dans les années 30. In La France des X: Deux siècles dhistoire de lEcole polytechnique, eds. Bruno Belhoste et al., 169184. Paris: Economica.

Moch, François. 19331934. Sur lévolution des systèmes économiques. Parts 13. Bulletin du C.P.E.E. 7 (OctoberNovember): 2439; 89 (December): 3444; 10 (February): 1827.

Marianne Fischman

Emeric Lendjel