Fisher, Irving

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Fisher, Irving

Fisher, Irving, 1867–1947, American economist, b. Saugerties, N.Y., Ph.D. Yale, 1891. He began teaching at Yale in 1890 and was active there until 1935. His earliest work was in mathematics, and he made a distinguished contribution to mathematical economic theory. He was noted chiefly for his studies in managed currency, in which he set forth the theory of the “compensated dollar” whereby purchasing power might be stabilized. His expansion of interest theory included the theory of investment appraisal, which relied on a person's willingness to sacrifice present for future income. He was also one of the first to work out a numbered index system for filing. Fisher's interests were wide; they included activities in academic, business, welfare, and public organizations, especially public health societies. Important among his many books are Mathematical Investigations in the Theory of Value and Prices (1892), Appreciation and Interest (1896), The Nature of Capital and Income (1906), The Rate of Interest (1907), The Making of Index Numbers (1922), and Theory of Interest (1930).


See biography by his son, I. N. Fisher (1956).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Fisher, Irving


Born Feb. 27, 1867, in Saugerties, N.Y.; died Apr. 29, 1947, in New Haven, Conn. American economist and statistician.

Fisher was educated at Yale University, where he later taught mathematics (1892–95) and economics (1895–1935). He was one of the founders and the first president (1931–33) of the international Econometric Society, as well as being a member of many American and foreign learned societies. Fisher became well-known for his work on economic-mathematical analysis, the theory of the circulation of money and credit, and the theory of indexes. He was an adherent of the quantity theory of money. Denying the inevitability of crises in the capitalist system, Fisher in his model of market equilibrium reduced crises to fluctuations in market conditions, which he believed could be eliminated by changing the purchasing power of money and regulating the amount of money in circulation. Fisher refused to recognize that money, like any commodity, has a value and that the quantity in circulation is determined by the demands of production.

In his treatment of the basic economic categories—profit, interest, capital, and value—Fisher developed the vulgar views of the mathematical school of bourgeois political economy. He considered that an abstract economic theory must rest on the exact measurement of economic processes and phenomena, the basis of which are the motives and conduct of business. Fisher advanced plans for the regulation of economic market conditions and reform of the money system, proposing the use of the “compensated dollar” and “100 percent money”; however, these plans found no support among bourgeois economists and government officials. Nevertheless, several analytic methods developed by Fisher are widely used in contemporary bourgeois economics.


“Mathematical Investigations in the Theory of Value and Prices.” Transactions of the Connecticut Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1892, vol. 9.
The Rate of Interest. New York, 1907.
Elementary Principles of Economics. New York, 1913.
The Making of Index Numbers, 3rd ed. London, 1927.
The Nature of Capital and Income. New York–London, 1930.
The Theory of Interest, Extensive Revision of the Rate of Interest. New York, 1930.
Booms and Depressions. New York, 1932.
100% Money [3rd ed.]. New York, 1945.
In Russian translation:
Kratkoe vvedenie v ischislenie beskonechno malykh. Moscow, 1922.
Pokupatel’naia sila deneg. Moscow, 1925.
Postroenie indeksov. Moscow, 1928.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

Fisher, Irving

(1867–1947) economist; born in Saugerties, N.Y. One of the most colorful economists, he is remembered for his brilliant and enduring exposition of economic theory. From 1892 until his retirement in 1935, he taught at Yale University. His contributions include crystallizing the distinctions between stocks and flows, clarifying the science of accounting at the individual level, and for explaining the economy as a whole. His invention of a visible index file system led to considerable financial success but he suffered heavy losses in the stock market crash of 1929. In his later years he also became known for his promotion of nutritional cures for diseases.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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