We often talk about politicians, billionaires, scientists and financial wizards when it comes to great minds. In fact, in a way, economists are as significantly important as they help us to understand how the world and society around us works, or how it should work for the benefit of all. There have been many economists to date, but not all have been able to make a notable impact with their work. If you want to know about the most influential of them all, then detailed below are the top ten greatest economists.
Get The Full Seth Klarman Series in PDF
Get the entire 10-part series on Seth Klarman in PDF. Save it to your desktop, read it on your tablet, or email to your colleagues.
Top Ten Greatest Economists
Our list of the top ten greatest economists is based on the popularity, contributions and relevance of work of the economists. Following are the top ten greatest economists:
Daniel Kahneman (1934 - )
Kahneman is an Israeli-American psychologist, who is known for his work in the field of behavioral economics. Along with behavioral economics, his work focused on the psychology of judgment and decision-making. He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 2002 (shared with Vernon L. Smith). Kahneman's findings raise the question on the human rationality assumption in the modern economic theory.
David Ricardo (1772 – 1823)
Ricardo was a British political economist and is one of the most influential classical economists. He developed several theories on wages, profits and labor, such as the labor theory of value, theory of comparative advantage, the concept of economic rent and others. Ricardo is best known for The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, which was published in 1817.
Joseph Stiglitz (1943 - )
Stiglitz is an American economist who is known for his contributions to the macroeconomic theory. He is a professor at Columbia University and has served on the Council of Economic Advisers under former President Bill Clinton. Stiglitz has also been the senior vice president and chief economist of the World Bank. He received a Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001, and the John Bates Clark Medal in 1979.
Ludwig von Mises (1881 – 1973)
Mises was an Austrian-American libertarian economist. He is known for his contribution to liberalism in economic theory, as well as belief in the power of the consumer. Mises is also popular for his work on praxeology, which is a study of human choice and action. His most popular books are The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality (1956), Human Action (1949) and Planned Chaos (1947). He was also a professor at the University of Vienna and at New York University.
Amartya Sen (1933 - )
Sen is an Indian economist, who taught and worked in the United Kingdom and the United States since 1972. He won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1998 and Bharat Ratna in 1999 for his work in welfare economics. Sen was a proponent of welfare economics, arguing that lack of income, not food, is the reason why famines arise. He also made a contribution to the social choice theory, and economic and social justice.
Karl Marx (1818 – 1883)
Marx was a German economist, who was also a philosopher, sociologist, journalist and revolutionary socialist. He is best known for The Communist Manifesto, which was co-authored by Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto provides in-depth details of the capitalist system, as well as the nature of Marxism. It also argued why a capitalist society isn’t sustainable and should be replaced by a socialist society. Mark spent much of his life in London, England.
Friedrich Hayek (1899 – 1992)
Hayek is an Austrian-born economist, whose full name is Friedrich August von Hayek. He was often referred to as F. A. Hayek, and is best known for his opposing views to Keynes, as well as his defense of classical liberalism. In 1974, Hayek shared the 1974 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences with Gunnar Myrdal. He was also awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1991.
John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946)
Keynes was a British economist who played a massive role in the field of macroeconomics. He reworked and refined many of the earlier work on the causes of business cycles. Keynes is seen as the founder of modern macroeconomics. He wasn’t in favor of laissez-faire, but rather believed that governments should interfere. His theories are still relevant and taught in schools.
Adam Smith (1723–1790)
Smith was a Scottish moral philosopher. He is best known for his Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) and Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776) or just The Wealth of Nations. The Wealth of Nations is regarded as the first work of modern economics, and that is why Smith is considered as one of the fathers of modern economics. Smith was also a proponent of laissez-faire policies.
Milton Friedman (1912 – 2006)
Friedman is an American economist who won the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences in 1976. He won the Nobel for his work on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, as well as the complexity of stabilization policy. Friedman was an avid supporter of free markets, and is known for his promotion of free-market capitalism. He received his education at Rutgers University, the University of Chicago and Columbia University.