Irving Fisher

Irving Fisher

Born: 1867. Died: 1947.


Irving Fisher was one of the earliest American neo-classicals of unusual mathematical sophistication. He made numerous important contributions to the Neo-classical Marginalist Revolution, of which the following are but a sample:

(1) his contributions to the Walrasian theory of equilibrium price (he also invented the indifference curve device) in 1892;
(2) his volumes on the theory of capital and investment (1896, 1898, 1906, 1907, 1930) which brought the Austrian intertemporal theories into the English-speaking world, wherein he introduced the famous distinction between "stocks" and flows", the Fisher Separation Theorem and the loanable funds theory of interest rates.
(3) his famous resurrection of the quantity theory of money (1911, 1932, 1935);
(4) the theory of index numbers (1922);
(5) the Phillips Curve (1926)
(6) his debt-deflation theory (1933) which is echoed in Post Keynesian economics.

This Yale economist was an eccentric and colorful figure. When Irving Fisher wrote his 1892 dissertation, he constructed a remarkable machine equipped with pumps, wheels, levers and pipes in order to illustrate his price theory - see here for pictures of his draft and his first and second prototypes. Socially, he was an avid advocate of eugenics and health food diets. He made a fortune with his visible index card system - known today as the rolodex - and advocated the establishment of an 100% reserve requirement banking system His fortune was lost and his reputation was severely marred by the 1929 Wall Street Crash, when just days before the crash, he was reassuring investors that stock prices were not overinflated but, rather, had achieved a new, permanent plateau.

Major Books of Irving Fisher

- 100% Money, 1935
- A Brief Introduction To The Infinitesimal Calculus, 1897
- America's Interest in World and Peace, 1929
- Appreciation and Interest, 1896
- Booms and Depressions, 1932
- Elementary Principles of Economics, 1912
- Inflation, 1933
- The Making of Index Numbers: A study of their varieties, tests and reliability, 1922
- Mathematical Investigations in the Theory of Value and Prices, 1892
- The Money Illusion, 1928
- The Nature of Capital and Income, 1906
- National Vitality, its wastes and conservation, 1910
- Prohibition at its Worst, 1927
- The Purchasing Power of Money: Its determination and relation to credit, interest and crises, 1911
- The Rate of Interest, 1907
- Stabilizing the Dollar, 1919
- Stabilizing the Dollar, 1920
- Stamp Scrip, with H.R.L. Cohrssen, H.W. Fisher, 1933
- The Stock Market Crash and After, 1930
- The Theory of Interest: As determined by the impatience to spend income and opportunity to invest it, 1930
- Why is the Dollar Shrinking? A study in the high cost of living

Major Articles of Irving Fisher

- 1892, Geometrical Theory of the Determination of Prices, Annals of AAPSS
- 1896, What is Capital?, EJ
- 1897, The Role of Capital in Economic Theory, EJ
- 1898, Cournot and Mathematical Economics, QJE
- 1898, Precedents for Defining Capital, QJE
- 1909, A Practical Method of Estimating the Velocity of Circulation of Money, JRSS
- 1911, The Equation of Exchange, 1896-1910, AER
- 1911, Recent Changes in Price Levels and Their Causes, AER
- 1912, A More Stable Gold Standard, EJ
- 1912, An International Commission on the Cost of Living, AER
- 1912, The Equation of Exchange, for 1911, and Forecast, AER
- 1912, Will the Present Upward Trend of World Prices Continue?, AER
- 1913, A Compensated Dollar, QJE
- 1913, A Remedy for the Rising Cost of Living: Standardizing the Dollar, AER
- 1913, The Equation of Exchange' for 1912, and Forecast, 1913
- 1913, The Impatience Theory of Interest, AER
- 1914, Objections to a Compensated Dollar Answered, AER
- 1918, Some Contributions of the War to Our Knowledge of Money and Prices, AER
- 1918, Is 'Utility' the Most Suitable Term for the Concept It is Used to Denote?, AER
- 1919, Consideration of the Proposal to Stabilize the Unit of Money: Rejoinder, AER
- 1919, Economists in Public Service: Annual Address of the President, AER
- 1919, Humanizing Industry, Annals of AAPSS
- 1919, Stabilizing the Dollar, AER
- 1925, The Decentralization and Suburbanization of Population, Annals of AAPSS
- 1926, The Statistical Relation Between Unemployment and Price Changes, International Labor Review
- 1932, Quantitative Economics, AER
- 1933, The Debt-Deflation Theory of Great Depressions, Econometrica
- 1934, Reflation and Stabilization, Annals of AAPSS
- 1939, The Pure Theory of Production, AER
- 1939, The Double Taxation of Savings, AER
- 1941, Mathematical Method in the Social Sciences, Econometrica

Quotes from Irving Fisher

- "Inflation might almost be called legal counterfeiting." (from "Stabilizing the Dollar", 1920)


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