Sunday, September 11, 2011

Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius

Roger Lowenstein gives Sylvia Nasar's new book 5 stars.

...This is Nasar’s setup for Alfred Marshall, who, though trained as a mathematician, was inspired by both Dickens and Marx to study how companies actually operated. “He did not doubt that the chief cause of poverty was low wages, but what caused wages to be low?” Marshall, who began his work in the 1860s, noticed a dynamic that Marx hadn’t: “Competition forced owners and managers to constantly make small changes to improve their products, manufacturing techniques,” and so forth. Over time, the improvements wrought greater productivity and higher wages. The significance of this idea for human progress cannot be overstated. The historian Arnold J. Toynbee later called it “the first great hope which [wage analysis] opens out to the laborer.”
Buy the book: Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius