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James Tobin

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Maynard Keynes
6788 days ago
"John Maynard Keynes (1883—1946) is the latest in a line of great British economists who had a profound influence on the discipline of economics. By common consent, the line starts with Adam Smith (1723—1790), whose Wealth of Nations (1776) is generally regarded as the founding document of modern economics. It continues with David Ricardo (1772—1823), whose Principles of Political Economy (1817) dominated classical economics for much of the nineteenth century, and, incidentally, provided Karl Marx with one of his central concepts: the labor theory of value. John Stuart Mill’s (1806—1873) Principles of Political Economy, published in the same year, 1848, as the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels, became the standard textbook in the English-speaking world—and beyond—for decades. William Stanley Jevons’s (1835—1882) Theory of Political Economy (1871) inaugurated the "marginal revolution," which replaced, or supplemented, emphasis on cost of production (supply) as determining value with emphasis on utility (demand). He resolved the classic diamond-water paradox—diamonds are a luxury, water a necessity, yet diamonds command a higher price than water—by showing that "marginal utility"—the utility gained from having one more unit of something—not "total utility" plays the key role in determining price. Alfred Marshall (1842—1924), Keynes’s own teacher, guide, and patron, dominated economics in the English-speaking world from the publication of the first edition of his classic, Principles of Economics (1890), to the 1930s.

Keynes clearly belongs in this line. In listing "the" classic of each of these great economists, historians will cite the General Theory as Keynes’s path-breaking contribution. Yet, in my opinion, Keynes would belong in this line even if the General Theory had never been published. Indeed, I am one of a small minority of professional economists who regard his Tract on Monetary Reform (1923), not the General Theory, as his best book in economics. Even after sixty-five years, it is not only well worth reading but continues to have a major influence on economic policy"

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