The most recent issue of The Independent Review marked the three
hundredth anniversary of Adam Smiths birth with Nobel laureate Vernon
Smiths essay explaining how the earlier Smiths ideas are foundational
in understanding how the West grew rich because of its commitment to classical
liberalism anchored in freedom (Smith 2023, 117). As Kenneth Boulding (1969, 1)
so aptly put it, Adam Smith ... has strong claim to being both the Adam and
the Smith of systematic economics. Smiths contributions to economics have been
keenly appreciated for more than a quarter of a millennium. If you search through
last years issues of The Independent Review, you wont be surprised to see that
Smith was cited in every single issuealthough many of his insights are woven so
deeply into our understanding of economics and human nature that they go without
mentioning. The same might said of economists such as James Buchanan, Milton
Friedman, Friedrich Hayek, and Ludwig von Miseswho were also cited in every
issue of the journal last year. These economists and others, including Joseph
Schumpeter and John Maynard Keynes, have been celebrated and, indeed, appreciated
by economists, if not by the wider public.
This issue of The Independent Review redirects our attention from these luminaries
to economists who havent been as widely appreciated. Who counts as an
underappreciated economist? As we put it in our call for contributions, You tell us.
Probably not, for example, Smith, Ricardo, Marshall, Mill, Marx, Keynes, Friedman, Samuelson, Hayek, Schumpeter, Becker, Arrow, Solow, Coase, and Stiglitzall of
whom were selected as favorite economists in a poll of economists published in Econ
Journal Watch about ten years ago (Davis et al. 2011).
Although the list of underappreciated economists could be extended at least a
hundredfold, the contributions to this symposium include a couple of economists
who were new to me (Friedrich Lutz and Karl Mittermaier) and some who are
very well known, including Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Sowell. The subjects
are compelling, the writing sparkles, and the essays are packed with insights and
interesting information, so read them in any order you wish.
Boulding, Kenneth E. 1969. Economics as a Moral Science. American Economic Review 59,
no. 1 (March): 112.
Davis, William L., Bob G. Figgins, David Hedengren, and Daniel B. Klein. 2011. Economics
Professors Favorite Economic Thinkers, Journals, and Blogs (along with Party and Policy
Views). Econ Journal Watch 8, no. 2 (May): 12646.