Beware Economists!

Beware Economists!

July 28, 2021 - 4 min read


In these crazy ‘unprecedented’ covid-19 economic times, it is worth remembering the words of John Maynard Keynes, who stated “Practical men who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”

Therefore it’s often interesting to discover that these academic scribblers from a few years back are in actual fact mad as a box of frogs. If we are taking advice from these people, then maybe we should be a little bit worried. In the Economics In Ten podcast, we’ve come across a few odd stories but here are a few of our favourites from the most famous of economists:

Adam Smith

As once featured on the £20 note, this is the man you start with when studying Economics but he was so absent-minded that he’d often end up in situations that would make Mr Bean proud. On a tour of a tanning factory with one of his friends, he was so engrossed in a conversation about trade, he fell into a tanning pit that he needed escaping from. He also made a cup of tea with bread and butter and declared it the worst cup of tea ever! This man is at the heart of modern day economics!!!

Joseph Schumpeter

This Austrian economist is known for the expression ‘creative destruction’ which is being used quite a lot at the moment as the coronavirus destroys businesses and Amazon stands on their corpses. He once declared that he wanted to become the world’s greatest economist, best horseman in Horseman and finest lover in Vienna. He declared he had achieved two of his aims but not which ones. This man did not lack confidence and once, when he couldn’t get books for his students, he challenged a librarian to a duel which he won by taking a chunk out of the librarian’s shoulder!

Joan Robinson

Joan was the finest female economist never win to the Nobel Prize in Economics. The fact that only two women have ever won this prize might have something to do with it but hopefully times are-a-changing. In her latter years she used to wear a full Vietnamese peasant outfit to deliver lectures but this was probably better than at the start of her teaching career where she once had a graduate seminar and her dead dad was sitting in the corner of the room.

Thorstein Veblen

This Norwegian-American economist studied the leisure classes in America and came up with the phrase ‘conspicuous consumption’ which highlights some of the ridiculous spending done by the wealthiest in society, such as buying a Supreme face mask for $400! He was a very precocious child, writing curses on his neighbour’s house in Ancient Greek and would often travel around his local neighbourhood on his pet dog. He wasn’t the only fun loving economist as a child: John Nash, played on screen by Russell Crowe in ‘A Beautiful Mind’ loved playing pranks and once tried to persuade his sister to sit on a chair he had wired up with batteries! Yes…he tried to electrocute his sister.

Karl Marx

Here was another man who liked a duel but this was more to do with booze, women and politics than books from a library. Marx often used fake names to avoid his creditors and was so poor, he’d often get his wife Jenny to pawn his pants in order to buy food! This meant he couldn’t go out, which was just as well, as he was often covered in boils, especially on his behind.

As you can see, economists are strange fellows and if you become one, you’re probably a bit strange too but don’t worry about it…the best ones are.

If you’d like to learn more, check the Economics In Ten podcasts. Fun for all the family.

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