Studies in the Theory of International Trade

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A. M. Kelley, 1937 - Commerce - 650 pages
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Employment and the Balance of Trade

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About the author (1937)

Jacob Viner was a Canadian-born American economist who was educated at McGill University and Harvard University. His teaching career included posts at the University of Chicago and Princeton. Viner's publications covered a remarkable range of subjects, with major contributions in the fields of cost and production, international economics, and the history of economic ideas. According to one authority, Viner was "quite simply the greatest historian of economic thought that ever lived." In a relatively short journal article published in 1921, Viner anticipated the concept of monopolistic competition that Edward H. Chamberlin and Joan Robinson later made famous. He also developed a model of oligopoly pricing that still stands as the standard textbook explanation for infrequent price changes in oligopolistic industries. Viner also popularized the current textbook presentation of marginal cost and marginal revenue analysis used to find the profit-maximizing quantity of production. Viner would have been an economist of the first order on the basis of these accomplishments alone, but his contributions in the field of international trade were greater. His doctoral dissertation and first book, Dumping: A Problem in International Trade (1923), which dealt with the issue of disposing of large quantities of goods at artificially low prices, was an immediate success. His second book, Canada's Balance of International Payments, 1900-1913, appeared a year later. His most famous work, however, was his Studies in the Theory of International Trade (1937), a history of international economics. According to some critics, this work placed economics on a new footing by working out misunderstandings and clarifying the main lines of advance within the field. A subsequent book, The Customs Union Issue (1950), was the definitive statement on common markets and free-trade areas. Viner's interest in later life was the impact of medieval theological writings on the history of economic ideas. One contribution was his indispensable introduction to John Rae's Life of Adam Smith, the standard Smith biography. Another, The Role of Providence in the Social Order (1972), explored the extraordinary power of theology on economics during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Viner's Religious Thought and Economic Society (1978) is an unfinished intellectual history of the Scholastics, the Jansenists, the Jesuits, and the early Calvinists. The recipient of a number of honorary degrees, he perhaps is best remembered for his wit, clarity of exposition, and the meticulous care and accuracy that marked his high standard of scholarship.

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