Thursday, July 23, 2009

Economic Giants: Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and Milton Friedman

John Maynard Keynes once wrote:
Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.

Adam Smith (1723-1790), the father of capitalism, gave us the invisible hand of competition and self-interest, laissez-faire, and the division of labor. Karl Marx (1818-1883), hated free markets, and believe in total government. John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) rescued capitalism by inventing fiscal and monetary policies. Milton Friedman (1912-2006) and his Chicago School believed in the total power of the mighty dollar; and hated Keynes and keynes' fiscal policy (deficit financing).

Go figure.

Not only are we slaves of these defunct economists, but also their followers. Hard as I look for new thinkers, I fail to find them. Larry Summers, Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, Paul Krugman, and other minor luminaries are still distilling the teaching from the above masters.

And the old guard still rules.

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