Which Economists Have Had the Greatest Influence on Our Current Economic System?

Certain works of economic thought have shaped the way modern societies operate – for better and for worse. 

Let’s start with the “bible of capitalism” – Adam Smith’s much-misunderstood work, The Wealth of Nations. At a time when absolutist national states ran the economy for the purpose of augmenting state power, the book’s core tenets were revolutionary: that economic progress depends on the pursuit of self-interest, division of labor and freedom of trade.

Image of: The Wealth of Nations
Book Summary

The Wealth of Nations

The classic par excellence: Adam Smith’s seminal explanation of political economy.

Adam Smith CreateSpace
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Even though Smith’s idealized image of economic progress and social harmony may have developed a few cracks over the course of time, his ideas have inspired many well-known economists, among them the late Milton Friedman.  

Milton Friedman’s 1962 classic, Capitalism and Freedom, strongly influenced the neoliberalist economic thinking championed by leaders such as Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher.

Image of: Capitalism and Freedom
Book Summary

Capitalism and Freedom

Ask not what economist Milton Friedman believes: this 1962 classic made him an oracle for traditional economics.

Milton Friedman University of Chicago Press
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The world today continues to be shaped by policies neoliberalism has inspired: the free movement of goods and capital, privatization, reduced government spending and deregulation.  

Read more on the march of ideas from the minds of economists into our lives here:


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