Irving Fisher

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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.


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Why is the idea, common to John Maynard Keynes, Milton Friedman, Knut Wicksell, Irving Fisher, and Walter Bagehot alike, that governments must intervene strategically in financial markets to stabilize economy-wide spending now a contested one?
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