Ideas of Great Economists

Free Session on John Maynard Keynes

About Lord Meghnad Desai:

The Academy’s Chairman is renowned academic Lord Meghnad Desai, Professor Emeritus at the London School of Economics. He has 38 years of teaching experience and is a life peer at the British House of Lords.  

  • Are Curious about the history of economic or social ideas. 
  • Want to understand the thoughts of Smith (Labour), Marx (Profits), Ricardo (Rent), Keynes (Aggregate Output) and other eminent economists.  
  • Add context to today’s events through the lens of economic history. 

  • Open to students, faculty, research scholars and working professionals.

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Session-Wise Course Curriculum

Economist – Adam Smith

Work – Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. Published in two volumes (1776).

The lecture will cover –

  • The life & ideas of Adam Smith.
  • His idea of “division of labour” – breaking down a production process to increase production and how it can be applied largely to an economy by division of tasks between companies.
  • The idea of a market as an institution for cooperation.

Economist – David Ricardo

Work – Principles of Political Economy and Taxation (1817).

The lecture will cover –

  • The life & ideas of David Ricardo.
  • Inflation as a phenomenon which involved ‘too much money chasing too few goods’
  • Concept of income distribution into wages, profits & rent
  • Advocacy of free trade & theory of comparative advantage.

Economist – Karl Marx

Work – Capital Volume 1 (1867), Vol.2 (1885) Vol.3 (1894) .The collected works of Marx and Engels run into 49 volumes.

The lecture will cover –

  • The life & ideas of Karl Marx.
  • Concept of free market capitalism.
  • Differentiation between value & price – how the value relationship is invisible while the price relationship is visible.
  • IterationTheory of business cycles.
  • Notion of national income & the growth model.

Economist – Neoclassical economists – Menger, Jevons, Walras, and Marshall

Work – Walrus (elements d’Economie politique pure – Elements of Pure Political Economy). Menger (Grundsatze der Volkwirtschaftslehre – Foundations of Political Economy). Jevon (The Theory of Political Economy). Marshall (The Principles of Economics).

The lecture will cover –

  • The life and ideas of the listed economists.
  • Difference between marginalists/neoclassical revolution vs. classical economics.
  • Concepts of consumer behavior, marginal utility, substitution & price elasticity.
  • Concept of General Equilibrium as pioneered by Walrus.

Economist – Knut Wicksell & Schumpeter

Work – Wicksell (Interest and Prices: A Study of the Causes Regulating the Value of Money) & Schumpeter (Theory of Economic Development 1912 in German, 1934 in English).

The lecture will cover –

  • The life and ideas of Wicksell & Schumpeter.
  • Theory of business cycles.
  • Concepts such as the Natural rate of interest, market rate of interest, marginal productivity theory of wages.
  • Schumpeter’s unique vision of capitalist development.

Economist – John Maynard Keynes

Work – General Theory of Employment, Interest & Money (1936).

The lecture will cover –

  • The life and ideas of Keynes.
  • Keynes’s theory of aggregate output and market failure.
  • Theory of liquidity preference and the liquidity trap.
  • Contributions of John Hicks – The ISLM.

Economist – Harrod-Domar, Solow, Arthur Lewis

Work – Towards a Dynamic Economics (1949), Article written by Solow in the Quarterly Journal of Economics (1956) and Lewis’s article “Economic Development with Unlimited Supplies of Labour” (1954).

The lecture will cover –

  • The various dimensions of the growth theory.
  • Concepts like the Natural rate of growth.
  • Roots of economic growth as proposed by Solow.
  • The Cobb-Douglas production function.
  • The noble prize-winning work of Lewis.

Economist – Milton Friedman

The lecture will cover –

  • Friedman’s challenges to Keynesian Economics.
  • Philips curve and its limitations.
  • Other criticisms on the theory of consumption expenditure and how movements in money supply were a better predictor of movements in nominal incomes.
  • The new macroeconomics “New Classical Macroeconomics”.

Time in Economic Analysis/Statics and Dynamics.

The concluding lecture is not pertaining to any economist but rather talks about the basic idea of time which different traditions in economics have had to deal with.

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