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This Frenchmen was educated at the University of Paris and became a professor of political economy at the University of Lausanne. He was one of the first figures to use marginal utility, and became the first person to mathematically model general equilibrium in Elements of Pure Economics. This made him an early pioneer in broader, general equilibrium theory. Walras spent substantial energy trying to draw attention to his text, but unfortunately its mathematical sophistication was too intricate to allow the thinkers of his day to adequately appreciate it. Like many great minds, he would not be fully recognized until after his death.
He began his models with two parties working in a barter system and then slowly built greater and greater levels of complexity into his system. Despite being largely known for his more theoretical work, Walras was also very interested in practical application. He wanted to improve society with moderately socialist reforms, but passed away before completing a full, systematic treatment on the subject comparable to what he achieved with Elements of Pure Economics.
There are numerous pithy sayings which speak to the circular nature of history. But whether you prefer, "the lesson of history is that we learn nothing from history," or, "those who don't study the past are doomed to repeat it," or even, "those who do study the past are doomed to watch helplessly as everyone else repeats it," the same overarching point remains. Simply put, people are slow to learn from readily available lessons.
This is why Carmen Reinhart's book, This Time is Different: Eight centuries of Financial Folly , is as pragmatic a text as one can find for people in power. In it she shows incredible similarity between the boom and bust cycles in history. Her book has been translated into over 20 languages and won the Paul A. This, and her numerous other scholarly achievements, is why she now servers as professor of the International Financial System at Harvard's elite Kennedy School.
Luckily for the rest of us, Reinhart's work is not merely ivory tower intellectual material that has no substantial impact on the real world. Hopefully her words of wisdom have fallen on open-minded ears. As a Harvard trained academic who later went on to be Yale's Sterling Professor of Economics, James Tobin was an internationally respected intellectual. He is regarded by many to be the greatest American from the Keynesian School, and eventually won the Nobel Prize for his work in However, Tobin's work was more than theoretical.
Much of his research was geared towards providing investors with valuable tools so that they could know where to place their money. His pragmatic approach is part of why both during and he was the director of the Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics. Tobin argued that monetary policy is only effective in capital investment.
He also noted that although interest rates are a critical factor in understanding capital investment, they are but one of many influences. He is famous for developing "Tobin's q," which describes the ratio of market value for an asset to the asset's replacement cost.
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Under this model, if a given asset's q is greater than 1, then the asset should be profitable. He is also well known for what came to be known as, "Tobin's Tax," which is a tax on foreign exchange transactions. Tobin saw speculation in foreign currency markets as wasteful at best, and potentially destructive, and consequently encouraged policies which limited this behavior. Irving Fisher was one of the most prominent American economists of the early 20th century, and to this day he is arguably the greatest besides Milton Friedman.
Like many of his contemporaries, he began his studies in mathematics and later switched to economics. He would eventually receive the first PhD in economics ever offered by Yale. He spent most of his career at Yale, where he became a member of the Skull and Bones Society and supported various social and political causes aimed at building a utopian world. He advocated for prohibition, world peace, and like many intellectuals of his day, eugenics.
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He was also a founder and the first president of the Econometric Society. Fisher was a major figure in the quantity theory. In particular, his theory was the first to utilize both currency and bank credit. Additionally, Fisher helped advance discussions of utility and general equilibrium. His work inspired the monetarist school of macroeconomic thought.
Fisher was also the first celebrity economist, having achieved public intellectual status relatively early in his career. Unfortunately his reputation was forever tarnished when, in , he said the stock market had reached a "permanently high plateau," shortly before it crashed. Nevertheless, his work on debt deflation has become increasingly influential in recent years as mainstream economists become more and more concerned with deflation.
This man was born and educated in law in Vienna. His career oscillated between professional occupations, which included three terms as minister of finance, and academic ventures, including professorships at both the University of Vienna and Innsbruck. His contribution to the field centers on "roundaboutness," or the concept that physical capital investment both lengthens production and improves productivity. He was one of the first economists to incorporate the passage of time into his theories in a clear and precise way.
He noted that people have a time preference. They prefer their desires met sooner rather than later. This time preference is what allows for meaningful interest rates. People will borrow in order to buy today and pay later because they are typically more concerned about the present than the future. However, at the time of this article's creation, well over million people are living in nations with negative interest rates.
Ludwig von Mises has been called the last knight of liberalism.
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In many ways, his thought represents the most significant leap forward in the Austrian School. As an Austrian Jew he fled his homeland for the safety of America as the dangers of the Third Reich grew. He was a true genius, having attained fluency in German, Polish, and French, literacy of Latin, and comprehension in Ukrainian by the age of Mises served as the chief economist for the Austrian Chamber of Commerce before taking a teaching position in Switzerland and eventually fleeing the Nazi advance for New York City.
There he became a professor of economics at New York University until his retirement. He spent the majority of his career developing the study of praxeology, or human choice. His magna opus, Human Action , meticulously outlines how individual choices form the bedrock of economics. For Mises, economics is an entirely bottom-up science that extends from the individual. This stands in stark contrast from Marx and various other socialists who think in terms of the aggregate.
His work had a major influence on other free market thinkers such as F. Hayek and Murray Rothbard. The Mises Institute, one of the world's foremost think tanks promoting free market capitalism and limited government, promotes both his ideas and those of kindred thinkers. Alfred Marshall was one of the most influential economists of his generation. His book, Principles of Economics , was a standard textbook in the field for decades. The text unifies marginal utility, supply and demand, and costs of production under a larger theory.
He also contributes to discussions of increasing and decreasing returns in production. Like many economists of the period, he was first trained in mathematics and even served as a professor in that field before later switching to political economics.
But despite his extensive mathematics background, his work typically relegates complex equations to footnotes. His work's consequent readability may have contributed to its influence. Sometimes an old idea needs a new champion. Keynesian economics, despite having achieved the status of intellectual orthodoxy in the first half of the 20th century and still retaining it, has come under fire numerous times from New Classical Economics. Consequently, proponents of Keynes like MIT-trained Joseph Stiglitz have responded by defending the updated versions of the theory. Stiglitz has done this in numerous ways, but perhaps the most obvious includes his development of a new branch of economics called "The Economics of Information.
Much of this work led to him receiving the Noble Prize in economics in Furthermore, he acted as the lead author of the Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change , which received the Noble Peace Prize in He has been given over 40 honorary doctorates. The New York Times listed him as one of the most influential people in the world. He was chief economist of the World Bank from before Janet Yellen succeeded him. He now serves on various prestigious boards such as the Acumen Fund and Resources for the Future. Some economists spend a lot of time talking about hypothetical abstract models, others put their time into championing political causes, and still others put their knowledge to practical applications like making a ton of money.
These are the sort of people that corporations, not-for-profits, and other big money people go to for advice. People like William Forsyth Sharpe are the pragmatically-driven sort who build ideas in order to fill bank accounts. He won the Nobel Prize in Markowitz had a profound impact on his thinking. Later, his work became influential enough to establish financial economics as its own branch of study. He developed a model to explain how securities prices reflect risks and returns.
He taught first at the University of Washington in Seattle and later at Stanford University until he left academia in order to start an investment consulting firm. He created the Sharpe ratio, which measures risk-adjusted investment performance. He also played a role in creating the binomial method for options analysis, the gradient method to help determine ideal assets to invest in, and returns-based style analysis for investigating investment fund track records.
Christopher Antoniou Pissarides was born in Cyprus but has since moved to Britain and done most of his professional work there. He won the Nobel Prize in for his research on markets with search frictions. He earned his PhD from the London School of Economics in in mathematical economics, and was elected to the prestigious British Academy in Since he has also been a part of the executive committee of the European Economic Association, and a fellow in numerous other academic societies. In he was even knighted. Pissarides has been a professor at the London School of Economics since , has become the Regius professor there, and is now the Chair for the Centre for Macroeconomics.
Did you ever wish you could have your cake and eat it too? Well, according to Arthur Laffer the government can do exactly that. He argued for this by developing the famous "Laffer Curve," which showed that although raising taxes will initially raise government revenue, doing so beyond a certain point so stymies the economy that it actually does more harm.