Quotations about   economics

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Markets can remain irrational a lot longer than you and I can remain solvent.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
(Attributed)

Generally credited to Keynes, but the earliest reference found is by financial analyst A. Gary Shilling, "Scoreboard," Forbes (15 Feb 1993). More discussion here.

Sometimes given as "Markets can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent" or "Markets can stay irrational longer than you can stay solvent."
Added on 11-Apr-17 | Last updated 11-Apr-17
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It is not private ownership, but private ownership divorced from work, which is corrupting to the principle of industry; and the idea of some socialists that private property in land or capital is necessarily mischievous is a piece of scholastic pedantry as absurd as that of those conservatives who would invest all property with some kind of mysterious sanctity.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 5 “The Functional Society” (1920)
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Added on 16-Mar-17 | Last updated 16-Mar-17
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The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, ch. 24 (1936)
Added on 14-Mar-17 | Last updated 14-Mar-17
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For my part I think that capitalism, wisely managed, can probably be made more efficient for attaining economic ends than any alternative system yet in sight, but that in itself it is in many ways extremely objectionable.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
“The End of Laissez-faire,” sec. 5 (1926)
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Added on 31-Jan-17 | Last updated 31-Jan-17
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This planet has — or rather had — a problem, which was this: most of the people living on it were unhappy for pretty much all of the time. Many solutions were suggested for this problem, but most of these were largely concerned with the movement of small green pieces of paper, which was odd because on the whole it wasn’t the small green pieces of paper that were unhappy.

Douglas Adams (1952-2001) English writer
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Preface (1979)
Added on 8-Aug-16 | Last updated 8-Aug-16
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What a country wants to make it richer is never consumption, but production. Where there is the latter, we may be sure that there is no want of the former. To produce, implies that the producer desires to consume; why else should he give himself useless labor? He may not wish to consume what he himself produces, but his motive for producing and selling is the desire to buy. Therefore, if the producers generally produce and sell more and more, they certainly also buy more and more.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) English philosopher and economist
“The Consumer Theory of Prosperity” (1830)
Added on 27-Apr-16 | Last updated 27-Apr-16
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If you torture the data long enough, Nature will confess.
Coase - torture the data - wist_info quote

Ronald Coase (1910-2013) British economist, academic, author
(Attributed)

Criticizing econometricians. Cited as early as 1977. Variants:
  • "If you torture data long enough, it will confess to anything you'd like."
  • "If you torture the data long enough, it will confess to anything."
Added on 25-Apr-16 | Last updated 25-Apr-16
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‘Patriotism is not enough.’ But neither is anything else. Science is not enough, religion is not enough, art is not enough, politics and economics are not enough, nor is love, nor is duty, nor is action however disinterested, nor, however sublime, is contemplation. Nothing short of everything will really do.

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) English novelist, essayist and critic
The Island, “Notes on What’s What” (1962)
Added on 22-Oct-14 | Last updated 22-Oct-14
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We cannot walk before we toddle,
Though we may toddle far too long,
If we embrace a lovely Model
That is consistent, clear, and wrong.

Kenneth Ewart Boulding (1910-1993) American economist, educator, poet, philosopher
“Experts,” Notes from Woods Hole [unpublished] (1976)
Added on 6-Jan-14 | Last updated 6-Jan-14
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But this long run is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task, if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us, that when the storm is long past, the ocean is flat again.

John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) English economist
A Tract on Monetary Reform, ch. 3 (1923)
Added on 1-Oct-07 | Last updated 1-Dec-15
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If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.

Herb Stein (1916-1999) American economist
Stein’s Law (c. 1980)

This was a frequent statement by Stein. He explained it: "This proposition, arising first in a discussion of the balance-of-payments deficit, is a response to those who think that if something cannot go on forever, steps must be taken to stop it -- even to stop it at once."

Variants.:
- "If something can’t go on forever, it won’t."
- "Anything that can’t go on, won’t."
- "Trends that can't continue won't.

Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 27-Mar-15
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