IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

David Hume on public credit


  • Maria Pia Paganelli

    () (Trinity University, San Antonio (TX))


In his essay Of Public Credit, David Hume argues against the institutionalization of public credit. Contrary to what is commonly believed, I claim Hume’s analysis of public credit is sound and it is an example of his worst-case thinking. Through textual and contextual analysis, I show for Hume public credit brings catastrophic results because men are knaves, systematically biased, and unlucky. Public credit is an appropriate institution to stimulate the economy only if men are perfect and perfectly predictable. But they are not. For Hume, considering the worst-case rather than the best-case helps prevent potential disasters. Public credit should therefore be avoided.

Suggested Citation

  • Maria Pia Paganelli, 2012. "David Hume on public credit," History of Economic Ideas, Fabrizio Serra Editore, Pisa - Roma, vol. 20(1), pages 31-43.
  • Handle: RePEc:hid:journl:v:20:y:2012:1:3:p:31-43

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:hid:journl:v:20:y:2012:1:3:p:31-43. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Mario Aldo Cedrini). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    We have no references for this item. You can help adding them by using this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.