Adam Smith (1723-1790) explained how the division of labor expands productive power and argued for freedom in economic affairs. David Ricardo (1772-1823), a London stockbroker, developed the concept of diminishing returns, the wages-fund doctrine, and classical rent theory. Another classical theorist, Thomas Malthus (1776-1834), proposed that workers are doomed to subsistence wages, because populations increase geometrically while food production increases arithmetically. Other classical economists, including James Mill and John Stuart Mill, extended and refined classical economics throughout the nineteenth century.
The author does a good job contextualizing the mercantilist environment in which Adam Smith made his landmark contribution to political economy. Thereafter the teachings of classical economics are traced from Adam Smith's upbeat world view to the more "dismal" overtones of David Ricardo and John S. Mill. I can't quite figure out whether the various personality accents are a plus or minus to an otherwise well-narrated piece.
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If you could sum up The Classical Economists in three words, what would they be?
It gives a great introduction to the foundation of our modern economy. It is essential knowledge for anyone with even a passing interest in social, political and economic issues. It is very apt in the current economic climate and the raging debate over what is fairer capitalism
What other book might you compare The Classical Economists to and why?
The overview of each economist with the background of the time in which they lived and created their views
What does Louis Rukeyser bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
It brings the material to life in a way not possible by just reading it.