ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Classical Economics, Marx, Marginalism, and Keynes

Economic Thought: A Brief History by Heinz D Kurz translated by Jeremiah Riemer, New York: Columbia University Press, 2016; pp viii+208, $27.

Over the last two decades, several good books have been written on the history of economic thought such as Vaggi and Groenewegen’s A Concise History of Economic Thought (2003), Roncaglia’s The Wealth of Ideas (2005), Ernesto and Zamagni’s An Outline of the History of Economic Thought (2005), and Sandelin, Trautwein, and Wundrak’s third edition of A Short History of Economic Thought (2015). Heinz D Kurz’s Economic Thought: A Brief History is a welcome addition to this list.

Chapter 1 covers early economic thought in brief—economic observations by the ancients, scholastics, and mercantilists. The ancient clay tablets, as Kurz notes, “are perhaps the first national income account in human history” (p 6). Early economic thought was “fairly unsystematic …  and oriented  towards prescription” (p 5); hence their focus on topics such as “just price” and “just taxation” (p 10). Thomas Mun, one of the prominent mercantilists, advocated running a trade surplus because they equated the nation’s wealth with “the stock of precious metals in the treasury of the crown” (p 13).

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