Jean-Baptiste Say

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Who was Jean-Baptiste Say?

Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832) was a classical and liberal French economist and academic. Say was born in Lyon in 1767 and had a distinguished career. He sat on a public finance committee under Napoleon, taught political economy in France at the Athénée, at the National Conservatory of Arts and Crafts, then at the College de France, where he was appointed president of political economy .

Say’s law of the markets is a classic economic theory that says that production is the source of demand. According to Say’s law, the ability to demand something is funded by the provision of a different good.

Key points to remember

  • Jean-Baptiste Say was a classic French liberal political economist who greatly influenced neoclassical economic thought.
  • He has argued strongly for competition, free trade and the lifting of business restrictions.
  • Say’s law suggests that all markets will clear up because there will always be a demand for something if it is supplied, at the right price.

Jean-Baptiste Say.

Understanding Jean-Baptiste Say

Jean-Baptiste Say is known for his contribution to Say’s law on the markets, also called his market theory, and for his work entitled “A Treaty on Political Economy”, which was published in 1803. In addition to his famous treatise, his other published works were the “Complete Volume of Practical Political Economy” (in 1852) and a collection of his correspondence with his economist colleague Thomas Malthus entitled “Letters to Mr. Malthus” which discussed and debated the economic theories of his critics. growth.

While “Say’s Law” was that the economy self-regulates, so that production is ultimately the source of demand, it has been misinterpreted and often interpreted to mean that “supply creates its own demand” . Contemporary economists John Maynard Keynes and Thomas Malthus criticized Say’s law, and later economists indicate that Keynes is partly or mainly responsible for the confusion. However, Say was strongly influenced by Adam Smith and the economic theories he laid out in his “wealth of nations” of 1776. He was a big proponent of Smith’s free market theories, promoting his laissez-faire philosophies and helping to popularize them in France thanks to his academic work and teaching. Say’s law still lives in modern neoclassical economic models which assume that all markets are becoming clearer.

Among other lessons, Say also expressed the belief that deflation could be a positive event, if it resulted from productivity gains. He has also written on money and banking, shared his views on taxation as a burden and is credited by Robert L. Formaini to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas Economic prospect publication among the first economists to discuss entrepreneurship and usefulness, describing entrepreneurs as useful for meeting “human needs”. Other contemporary economists included James Mill, Jeremy Bentham and David Ricardo.

Jean-Baptiste Say and the American founding fathers

Appearing in English translation, the works of Say found an admiring public among the founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, with whom he had an active correspondence. Madison’s letter thanking Say for sending her a copy of her treaty reads in part: “Please, Sir, be assured of the great value I place on your esteem …”

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