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In the Long Run We’re All Dead

The Lives and Deaths of Great Economists

Translated by Jamie Bullock

A fascinating and entertaining account of the lives of the most important economists of the past.

Until the late nineteenth century, economics couldn’t be studied at the university level; the field was the domain of well-educated figures whose radical curiosity drew them to a discipline that was little understood and often ridiculed. In the Long Run We’re All Dead tells the story of one of those figures in each of its thirteen chapters. Each of these extraordinary lives is worthy of fiction, and the manner of their deaths, oddly, often illuminates their work. Björn Frank shows us how these economists developed the theories for which they became famous and explains those ideas—utilitarianism, social costs, the endowment effect, and others—with reference to the lives of their creators in an engaging, irreverent, even comic style. Frank also takes daring leaps into speculation, considering how the principles of these long-gone economists might be applied to problems of today and of the future.

181 pages | 5 1/4 x 8 1/2

Economics and Business: Economics--History

History: History of Ideas

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"This is a fascinating, readable, and quirky set of mini-biographies of some leading, and more obscure economists, united in having interesting lives and deaths. [Frank] manages to tell us something new about Keynes, List, Schumpeter and Thunen; and introduces us to the innovative Schmolder, the Nazi economist Stackelberg, the brave Soviet agricultural economist Chayanov, and Richard Cantillon whose sophisticated monetary economics dates from three hundred years ago."

Vince Cable | Former Leader of the Liberal Democrats

"By using their deaths as a lens through which to examine their lives, Björn Frank has created a novel, entertaining, and informative way to introduce readers to the work of almost twenty economists from the past two centuries. This compact work melds economic analysis with biography to shed new light on some of the discipline’s most influential research and theories. While several famous figures appear—Keynes, Marx, Coase—the book also includes many who will be new to non-economists. Newly-published from the German, In the Long Run We’re All Dead also has the merit of bringing to people’s attention several of that country’s economists whose reputation has undeservedly faded over time."

Phil Thornton | Author of The Great Economists

"Björn Frank has written an ingenious and darkly humorous set of portraits of seminal economic thinkers. Weaving together ideas and biography, he includes stories of economists who have been neglected in the English-speaking world while finding a fresh take on the well-known giants. Elegant, original and highly entertaining."

Niall Kishtainy | author of A Little History of Economics

"This is a gem of a book. Engaging and short biographies of famous and not so famous economists whose death can illuminate their life and work. Full of economic insights explained in plain prose that will appeal to anyone interested in the dismal science. A thoroughly enjoyable read."

Dr. Toke Aidt | University of Cambridge

Table of Contents

Foreword: About This Book and Why it’s Not Longer 1
1 C antillon’s Last Problem 5
2 Bentham: Not a Pretty Corpse, But Useful 13
3 List’s Last Economic Triumph 29
4 Thu¨nen and his Gravestone Formula 45
5 C hayanov: Death in Hell 61
6 K eynes: An Economist, Amongst Other Things 75
7 S tackelberg: The Other Fu¨hrer 83
8 S chumpeter Prays to the Rabbits 89
9 V on Neumann and the Price of Nuclear Deterrence 103
10 S chmölders’ Dream of America 111
11 V ickrey’s Very Brief Delight at the Nobel Prize 121
12 C oase and the Economic Problems of Eternal Life 129
13 V ariations on Themes by Friedrich List 141
Notes and Sources 153
Bibliography 165

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