Whether they bring good or bad news, a country relies heavily on its economists because they keep in check how societies make use of scarce resources. They then inform their governments or other institutions about their findings. This, in turn, helps with making important decisions about pricing and marketing of goods. Famous female economists such as Carmen Reinhart Janet Currie and Claudia Goldin are just 3 among a number of leading female economists who hold powerful economic policy making positions and who carry out intensive market research on consumer needs so as to help a country and businesses to increase their profit margins. These economists, and particularly Reinhart who studied at Columbia University, have gone on to the author- or co-author books such as ‘This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly’. Famous female economists like this will then study past trends so as to prepare annual economic forecasts for their governments, gathering data from different sectors of the economy.
Among famous conservative economists, Milton Friedman is one of the most famous. He is one of the famous conservative economists hailing from America, who changed the way the economy was looked into. He was an advocate of free will and free action, which later culminated in the theory of Free markets and individualism. He came into limelight during the great depression in the USA. He thoroughly researched the consumption function, and how every individual can be affected by it. He also gave a theory on the employment rate. According to this theory, the rate of employment should be according to a”natural” rate, and any rate above this can cause inflation. He also supported a steady flow of money in the market, which was termed as “monetarism”. Due to his new thoughts, while still being conservative, he was the advisor to Ronald Reagan on financial matters. He received the Nobel prize in economics for his research on the consumption function, monetary history and the complexity of stabilization. He was an economist who framed the economy for the future and we are witnessing what he foretold.
Famous economists and their contributions have made the world a better place to live. These stalwarts come from many walks of life and have given many clues helping to make the systems of governance and infrastructure better by their thoughts and theories. Some of the famous economists and their contributions which have made a significant difference to modern life are – Kenneth Arrow: He is an eminent mathematician and economist who brought more use of mathematical calculations giving economics a much practical view by using numbers. His theory about general equilibrium is a major contribution to economics. Ross Garnaut – The economics of the future energy system a study conducted by Australia National University under the guidance of Ross Garnaut helped frame long-term sustainability plan in Australia. The study has gone a long way in providing low-cost energy in Austraila which has been the mainstay of the economy. Gary Becker – He has been instrumental in merging sociology with economics, and his theory explains how sociological factors influence economic behaviour. He was the first person to point out the importance of human capital in the modern economy. These three living economists have made contributions to modern life and are still working, and it is their thoughts that are making the difference.
When we talk about famous modern economists, Amartya Sen’s name comes in mind as a Nobel laureate with works in the area of welfare economics. He was born in Santiniketan, the workplace of Rabindranath Tagore the Nobel laureate. Amartya Sen is one of the famous modern economists, who seems to have lived his whole life on University campuses around the world. He spent his childhood in Dhaka University campus, with his father and mother completing his schooling from a school inside the University campus. His father was a Professor of chemistry at Dhaka University, then a part of undivided India. He started his University education at Kolkata University and went on to get his Ph D at Cambridge University. He has held the post of Professor in India, the UK (Cambridge and Oxford) and the US (Harvard University). Thus, he has lived most of his life being inside one or the other University campus. His most important work is on finding out the economic causes of famine, and how it causes a food shortage. Many solutions limiting the food shortage were built around his concepts. He advised census taking in the third world countries for knowing and limiting the population. According to Sen Census in developing nations is different from the developed nations. For example, Census taking in Australia has never followed accepted patterns
as it does not have the rate of population growth as the developing nations. His pioneering work in the field of welfare economics is still continuing and is a benchmark for future economists.
Andrew Leigh is an intriguing Economist and Politician. His books make a refreshing read and are a definite change from the normal dry tomes! Now, in his third career as a politician for the Labour party, his seat is Fraser. Andrew Leigh’s view on the company tax cut makes equally insightful reading. Initially, he studied to become a Lawyer and worked in a number of prestigious positions before turning his sights to economy. At Harvard he studied Economy and later, became Professor of Economics at the Australian National University. Andrew Leigh has maintained a focus on the disadvantaged and inequality that remains constant in his work as a Labour politician. Having been a Labour member for all of his adult life, he has a reputation for not being a ‘political’ politician. Approachable and not tied down to party factions, he says he still thinks like an economist and that I would consider a good thing. I feel it brings a fresh perspective to inner workers of the party. If everyone functioned the same, no new initiatives would evolve and a stalemate would ensue. And we have seen enough of them! It will be interesting to watch what this charismatic man will bring to Australian politics.
John Maynard Keynes was an economist who changed the landscape of economics and politics in the 20th century. His principles laid the basis of a popular branch of economics that changed government forever, and his ideas still have a huge impact on the market, too. Keynes was born in 1883 in Great Britain. He died in 1943, having witnessed two wars that devastated the world and the Great Depression. The era he lived in helped shape his ideology as an economist, which then helped shape the next generation. Keynes was interested in the market, investments and, most importantly, government intervention in the market, especially in times of heightened troubles. Keynes is the father of Keynesian Economics. According to this branch of economics, during an economic depression, governments should borrow money and spend this on infrastructure and boost the economy. This would result in economic growth and development, which the government can use to repay the debt. Keynesian Economics led governments to become more active in the market, especially in order to support the economy. This indirectly led to the creation of the philosophy of neoliberalism. Keynes may have died in 1943, but his legacy still lives on. After all, not a lot of economists can claim to have changed the entire world for the good part of a century!
Irving Fisher is one economist whose clarity of words and theories set him apart. He always used mathematics to explain his theories and express it in such simple words that a graduate student can learn it by himself. The famous Theory of Interest is an example you can take any time.
He was born in New York on february 27, 1987. During his childhood Fisher exhibited flair for invention and aptitude for mathematics.His father was extremely religious and raised his son following all religious methods. However Fisher grew up to become an atheist. The death of his father at an early age of 53 meant Fisher had to take care of the family. He did so along with his studies. He got his degree from Yale college in 1888 and subsequently his first Ph.D in 1891. He is still one of the youngest Doctorates to have passed from Yale. His thesis Mathematical Investigations in the Theory of Value and Prices was published by Yale as a major contribution to Economics. In 1898 he became Professor of Political Economy at Yale and later Emeritus professor in 1935. In 1918 he was elected the president of American Economic Association.
Not only was Fisher an economist but a prolific writer, journalist and an inventor too. His articles on various social issues are an example of simple but hard-hitting articles, which are an example for journalists today. As for his invention skills, we still today use “index visible filing system” which was patented by him 1913.
John Stuart Mill was an English philosopher known for his influence on Politics of his time. He is known as the most influential philosopher in the 19th Century. He was born in London in a Scottish family and his education was exemplary. His father took great care of his education. He indeed was a prodigy. By the age of three his education of Greek started and by the age of eight he had mastered it and read much of Greek literature. He read Plato’s work in original which would later influence him in his life. He also read mathematics extensively.
At the age of eight he learnt Latin and was able to read works of Euclid and also Algebra. He was most famously associated with liberalism and the advanced concept of freedom as we know today. In his days people were classified as elites and commoners a concept which he did not like. In his famous work Essays on Economics and Society he professed the utilitarian concept. He believed in a free market, with taxes only on harmful products like alcohol. He wanted inherited property to be taxed as equality was the right of every man as per him. His Principles of Political economy article later incorporated concept of co-operative wages. A man much ahead of his times.
Heinz Arndt was born in Germany in 1915. He was born at a time when Germany lost the first world war. He did his schooling in Germany while Adolf Hitler was rising in politics. He was born in a family of educationist, his father Fritz Arndt being a University chair in Germany. However due to Jewish origins they had to leave Germany and go to England as Germany was not a safe place for Jews. Heinz Arndt wrote about this later as being good luck as he got chance to study at the Oxford University. He gained an economics degree and later taught at the London School of Economics and Manchester University. Later he migrated to Australia and taught at Australian National University and settled in Australia. He was a great scholar of economics, politics and contributed a lot to the growth of Indonesia being awarded the Presidential medal of Indonesia – “Bintang Jasa Pratama” in 1995. He researched and contributed to the Indonesian economy after Sukarno lost power in Indonesia. The most famous work of Heinz is “The Economic Lessons of the Nineteen Thirties”. He was instrumental in building robust banking system in Australia which is the envy of the world. He is also known as the Grand old man of Asian Economics and his efforts benefited Australia and Asia as they bound well economically. The effect of Heinz is evident in the way Australian Economy holding up well in wake of Global Economic crisis.
Joseph Schumpeter was the one who connected economics and business by introducing the economic concept of cycles in business. Schumpeter had his own way of economics. In business cycles he does not agree with Keynes or Walras. According to him Business cycles are circular and keep moving. This was quite different from views of economists in those days. But that is what we realized to be correct.
In his famous book Capitalism,Socialism and Democracy Joseph Schumpeter agrees with Marxian theory of collapse of Capitalistic economic structure. However what will be the cause and effect , he has his own views. According to Marx Capitalism would be removed by violent protests. Joseph Schumpeter said it is less likely and predicted slow death of Capitalistic economy. According to him Capitalism will slowly weaken and go away because it has some major flaws. This is what really happened in most of Capitalistic economies. In the same book he also said about democracy and the threat it poses to common people. We are observing the same in today’s world. Joseph Schumpeter theorized “Entrepreneurship” and contributed a great deal to this neo-economic topic. He talks about innovation and technological changes which an entrepreneur brings to the society.
Joseph never let his hardship in child hood affect him and rose to greatness. It was the victory of human mind over the nature. Joseph signifies the coming of practical thoughts and processes which are relevant even today. His predictions and theories will work even after another 200 years I think.