Great Economic Thinkers from the Classicals to the Moderns: Translations from the series Klassiker der Nationalökonomie, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Great Economic Thinkers from the Classicals to the Moderns

Translations from the series Klassiker der Nationalökonomie, 1st Edition

By Bertram Schefold


448 pages

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This is the opus magnum of one of the world’s most renowned experts on the history of economic thought, Bertram Schefold. It contains commentaries from the series Klassiker der Nationalökonomie (Classics of Economics), which have been translated into English for the first time. Schefold’s choices of authors for this series, which he has edited since 1991, and his comments on the various re-edited works, are proof of his highly original and thought-provoking interpretation of the history of economic thought.

Together with a companion volume, Great Economic Thinkers from Antiquity to the Historical School: Translations from the series Klassiker der Nationalökonomie, this book is a collection of English translations with introductions by Bertram Schefold. The emphasis of this volume is on the theoretical debates, from the theory of value to imperfect completion; from money to the institutional framework of society; and from the history of economic thought to pioneering works in mathematical economics. This volume is an important contribution to the history of economic thought, not only because it delivers original and fresh insights about well-known figures, such as Marx, Stackelberg, Sraffa, Samuelson, Tooke, Hilferding, Schmoller and Chayanov, but also because it deals with ideas and authors who have been forgotten or neglected in previous literature.

This volume is of great interest to those who study the history of economic thought, economic theory and philosophy, as well as those who enjoyed the author’s previous volume, Great Economic Thinkers from Antiquity to the Historical School.


Schefold invites the reader to understand the history of economic thought not as a discipline which primarily wants to discover the earliest author to have expressed a thought which might still be important today. "The texts are really interesting only if we recognise a ‘political’ dimension and try to interpret them as expressions of the will to shape, to preserve or to change the world", he writes.

Schefold […] tries to build a bridge from the traditional history of economic theories to a universal history of economic thought.

- Gerald Braunberger, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)

"…this is a truly great achievement in the history of economic thought; it is comparable to that of Schumpeter’s when he wrote the History of Economic Analysis in the middle of the previous century."

- Kiichiro Yagi, Setsunan University, Neyagawa city, Osaka, Japan

Table of Contents


List of tables

Preface and acknowledgments

Detailed Contents for Great Economic Thinkers from Antiquity to the Historical School


Two schemes for ordering approaches to the history of economic thought

Institutionalism and ordoliberalism

The development of economic theory since Adam Smith: an ordering according to the theories of value and distribution

1 Classicals

John Locke: a philosopher dedicated to economic thought

The Pamphlets from 1815: a shining moment for economic theory

Sismondi’s Nouveaux Principes d’Economie Politique: classical liberalism, philanthropy, and the experience of history

Charles Babbage’s On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures

Karl Marx: the significance of the problem of the theory of the forms of value and the transformation of values into prices for capital

Karl Marx: circulation, productivity, and fixed capital

2 Monetary Theory

Thomas Tooke’s An Inquiry into the Currency Principle and the theory of distribution

Walter Bagehot: political economist and publicist in the Victorian era

Rudolf Hilferding and the idea of an organised capitalism

3 Neoclassicals

William Stanley Jevons: the path to modern Utilitarianism

Francis Ysidro Edgeworth’s Mathematical Psychics

Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk: discovery and error in the history of theories of interest

Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk’s Positive Theory of Capital

Irving Fisher’s The Nature of Capital and Income

Irving Fisher’s determination of interest and long-term equilibrium

Vilfredo Pareto’s Manual of Political Economy [Manuale di economia politica]

Increasing returns, competition, and growth

Antoine Augustin Cournot’s An Inquiry into the Mathematical Principles of the Theory of Wealth [Recherches sur les principes mathématiques de la théorie des richesses]

Rudolf Auspitz and Richard Lieben: An Inquiry into Price Theory [Untersuchungen über die Theorie des Preises]

4 Institutionalism

Gustav von Schmoller as theoretician

In between Historical School and modern Institutionalism: J. R. Commons‘s Institutionalism

Johan Åkerman’s The Problem of a Socio-Economic Synthesis [Das Problem der sozialökonomischen Synthese]

Alexander W. Chayanov’s The Theory of Peasant Economy

5 Moderns

Knut Wicksell’s Interest and Prices [Geldzins und Güterpreise]

Heinrich von Stackelberg’s concept of equilibrium: the search for evolutionarily stable market behaviour

Paul A. Samuelson’s Foundations of Economic Analysis

John R. Hicks’s Value and Capital

Alfred Müller-Armack’s path: from interventionary state to the social market economy

Market, policy, and society in Wilhelm Röpke

Appendix: The Series Klassiker der Nationalökonomie



About the Author

Bertram Schefold is Senior Professor at the Department of Economics, Goethe-Universität, Germany. He has published more than 40 books and 250 articles on economic theory, history of economic thought, energy policy and general economic policy. He edited the series Klassiker der Nationalökonomie.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in the History of Economics

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Economics / General