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December 17, 2009

The Cassandras from the Panglosses

Niall Ferguson asks, given this last year - and if they had e-mail in the hereafter - which of the great thinkers of the past would be entitled to send us a message with the subject line: "I told you so"? It is a tedious piece but a handy write up if you are after a brief introduction to big names in economics.

It has, for example, been a bad year for Adam Smith (1723-1790) and his "invisible hand," which was supposed to steer the global economy onward and upward to new heights of opulence through the action of individual choice in unfettered markets. By contrast, it has been a good year for Karl Marx (1818-1883), who always maintained that the internal contradictions of capitalism, and particularly its tendency to increase the inequality of the distribution of wealth, would lead to crisis and finally collapse. A special mention is also due to early 20th-century Marxist theorist Rudolf Hilferding (1877-1941), whose Das Finanzkapital foresaw the rise of giant "too big to fail" financial institutions.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at December 17, 2009 07:28 AM


Surely a group email from the founding members of the Fabian Society would be the most appropriate? Our American cousins have shifted from "creeping socialism" to "galloping socialism" in just over a year. The Fabians would want to crow about their impending overwhelming victory.

Posted by: Nicholas [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 17, 2009 04:47 PM