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John Law: Economic Theorist and Policy-maker

Author

Listed:
  • Murphy, Antoin E.

    (Trinity College)

Abstract

John Law (1671-1729) left a remarkable legacy of economic concepts from a time when economic conceptualization was very much at an embryonic stage. Yet he is best known--and generally dismissed--today as a rake, duellist, and gambler. This intellectual biography offers a new approach to Law, one that shows him to have been a significant economic theorist with a vision that he attempted to implement as policy in early-eighteenth-century Europe. Law's style, marked by a clarity and use of modern terminology, stands out starkly against the turgid prose of many of his contemporaries. His vision of a monetary and financial system was certainly one of a later age, for Law believed in an economy of banknotes and credit where specie had no role to play. Ultimately Law failed as a policy-maker, in part because of the entrenchment of the financiers and their aristocratic backers and in part because of theoretical flaws in his vision. His struggle for power took place against the background of Europe's first major stock boom and collapse. The collapse of the Mississippi System, which he had conceived, and the South Sea Bubble led to a lasting impression of Law as a failure. It is this impression that Antoin Murphy seeks to dispel.

Suggested Citation

  • Murphy, Antoin E., 1997. "John Law: Economic Theorist and Policy-maker," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198286493.
  • Handle: RePEc:oxp:obooks:9780198286493
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    Cited by:

    1. Madarász, Aladár, 2011. "Buborékok és legendák. Válságok és válságmagyarázatok - II/1. rész. A Déltengeri Társaság
      [Bubbles and myths, crises and explanations II/1: the South Sea bubble]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(11), pages 909-948.
    2. Thomas M. Humphrey, 1999. "Mercantilists and classicals: insights from doctrinal history," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Spr, pages 55-82.
    3. Velde, Francois R., 2016. "What We Learn from a Sovereign Debt Restructuring in France in 1721," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue 5, pages 1-17.
    4. Mauricio C. Coutinho, 2014. "Arguments On Nom-Metallic Money (1650-1750)," Anais do XLI Encontro Nacional de Economia [Proceedings of the 41st Brazilian Economics Meeting] 006, ANPEC - Associação Nacional dos Centros de Pós-Graduação em Economia [Brazilian Association of Graduate Programs in Economics].
    5. William N. Goetzmann, 2015. "Bubble Investing: Learning from History," NBER Working Papers 21693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Yang Hu & Les Oxley, 2017. "Exuberance in British Share Prices during the Railway Mania of the 1840s: Evidence from the Phillips, Shi and Yu Test," Working Papers in Economics 17/09, University of Waikato.
    7. Jérôme Blanc & Ludovic Desmedt, 2014. "In search of a ‘crude fancy of childhood’: deconstructing mercantilism," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 38(3), pages 585-604.
    8. Michel Bellet, 2011. "Saint-Simonism and Utilitarianism: the history of a paradox. Bentham's Defence of Usury under Saint-Amand Bazard's Interpretation," Working Papers halshs-00654847, HAL.
    9. Roberds, William & Velde, Francois R., 2014. "Early Public Banks," Working Paper Series WP-2014-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
    10. Geoffrey Poitras, 2012. "From the Renaissance Exchanges to Cyberspace: A History of Stock Market Globalization," Chapters, in: Geoffrey Poitras (ed.), Handbook of Research on Stock Market Globalization, chapter 3, Edward Elgar Publishing.
    11. Peter L. Rousseau & Richard Sylla, 2003. "Financial Systems, Economic Growth, and Globalization," NBER Chapters, in: Globalization in Historical Perspective, pages 373-416, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Yang Hu & Les Oxley, 2017. "Exuberance in Historical Stock Prices during the Mississippi and South Seas Bubble Episodes," Working Papers in Economics 17/08, University of Waikato.
    13. Antoin E. Murphy, 2004. "Corporate Ownership in France: The Importance of History," NBER Working Papers 10716, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    14. John Berdell, 2010. "Retrospectives: An Early Supply-Side-Demand-Side Controversy: Petty, Law, Cantillon," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(4), pages 207-217, Fall.
    15. Thomas M. Humphrey, 1998. "Mercantilists and classicals: insights from doctrinal history. 1998 annual report of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond," Annual Report, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    16. Michel Bellet, 2011. "Saint-Simonism and Utilitarianism : the history of a paradox. Bentham’s Defence of Usury under Saint-Amand Bazard’s Interpretation," Working Papers 1135, Groupe d'Analyse et de Théorie Economique Lyon St-Étienne (GATE Lyon St-Étienne), Université de Lyon.
    17. Madarász, Aladár, 2011. "Buborékok és legendák. Válságok és válságmagyarázatok - II/2. rész. A Déltengeri Társaság
      [Bubbles and myths, crises and explanations II/2: the South Sea bubble]
      ," Közgazdasági Szemle (Economic Review - monthly of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), Közgazdasági Szemle Alapítvány (Economic Review Foundation), vol. 0(12), pages 1001-1028.

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