Philosopher, Economist (1842-1924)
The word legend gets thrown about too much nowadays, but Alfred Marshall was just that … a true legend of economics. A powerfully influential economist, over the period of his immensely successful career, he almost single-handedly shaped mainstream economics into what we know today. During his tenure at Cambridge, he collaborated with many thinkers, including John Maynard Keynes, and founded the ‘Cambridge school’. He is also considered to be one of the founding fathers of the Neoclassical school of economics and played a key role in the ‘Marginalist revolution’. Marshall was one of the most dominant economists of the early 20th Century and, despite all the progress in economics over the past 100 years, the Marshallian framework is still relevant and taught in every economics class today.
Marshall’s masterpiece is undoubtedly his book titled ‘Principles of Economics’ in which he masterfully introduced, and repackaged, many key economic concepts including elasticity, consumer and producer surplus, diminishing returns, the short and long terms and marginal utility. In fact, the demand and supply diagram that economists the world over have drawn a billion times was first developed by Marshall. He was a true innovator and brought many different economic concepts together into one coherent whole.
“The laws of economics are to be compared with the laws of the tides, rather than with the simple and exact law of gravitation. For the actions of men are so various and uncertain, that the best statement of tendencies, which we can make in a science of human conduct, must needs be inexact and faulty.”
“Every short statement about economics is misleading (with the possible exception of my present one).”
– Alfred Marshall