• Paul Krugman
• Hyman Minsky
• John Maynard Keynes
• Adam Smith
• Irving Fisher
• James Buchanan
Fifty Major Economists contains brief biographical information on each featured economist and an explanation of their major contributions to economics, along with simple illustrations of their ideas. With reference to the recent work of living economists, guides to the best of recent scholarship and a glossary of terms, Fifty Major Economists is an ideal resource for students of economics.
Steven Pressman is Professor of Economics and Finance at Monmouth University. He has published around 120 articles in refereed journals and as book chapters, and has authored, or edited 13 books, including Women in the Age of Economic Transformation, Economics and Its Discontents, Alternative Theories of the State, and Leading Contemporary Economists.
Smith's theory of the invisible hand, which says that competition channels self-interest for the common good, is probably the most widely cited argument today in favor of unbridled competition--and against regulation, taxation, and even government itself. But what if Smith's idea was almost an exception to the general rule of competition? That's what Frank argues, resting his case on Darwin's insight that individual and group interests often diverge sharply. Far from creating a perfect world, economic competition often leads to "arms races," encouraging behaviors that not only cause enormous harm to the group but also provide no lasting advantages for individuals, since any gains tend to be relative and mutually offsetting.
The good news is that we have the ability to tame the Darwin economy. The best solution is not to prohibit harmful behaviors but to tax them. By doing so, we could make the economic pie larger, eliminate government debt, and provide better public services, all without requiring painful sacrifices from anyone. That's a bold claim, Frank concedes, but it follows directly from logic and evidence that most people already accept.
Originally published in 1972.
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