Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert
Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz
Chapter 60: Gustav Cassel (1866–1945)
Opinions about the Swedish economist Gustav Cassel (1866–1945) have varied over time. Before the First World War, he made himself known as a progressive liberal who advocated social reform and trade unions as means to increase labour productivity and economic growth. In the 1920s, he was considered to be “the most influential leader of our science” (Schumpeter 1954: 1154). He advised the League of Nations and national governments on monetary policy issues, and attracted worldwide attention as a lecturer and writer of textbooks, pamphlets and articles. In the wake of the Great Depression, Cassel fell out of favour with public opinion, due to his opposition to the “new economics” of the Stockholm School, Keynes and other advocates of fiscal activism. His image shifted from that of a skilful popularizer of complex theory and “pragmatic truths” to that of a conceited vulgarizer, if not plagiarizer of Walras. In the 1980s, Cassel was reappraised as a “pioneer” of growth theory, monetary targeting, the notion of revealed preferences, and other concepts. Since then, many of these claims have been disputed or downsized. Life Karl Gustav Cassel was born into a merchant family in Stockholm in 1866. After taking a doctoral degree in mathematics in 1895, Cassel turned to studies in economics. In 1898 and 1899 he went to Germany to attend lectures of Gustav Schmoller, Adolph Wagner and other representatives of the historical school and Kathedersozialisten (socialists of the chair). On visits to England in 1901 and 1902 he made the acquaintance...
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