John Law

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Law, John


Born Apr. 21, 1671, in Scotland; died Mar. 21, 1729, in Venice. Scottish financier.

Law established what is referred to as the Law system, which was based on the issue of unbacked paper money. Believing that paper money in and of itself has a certain value, Law stated that intensive issuing of such currency would have a favorable effect on business activity and the growth of national wealth. Law’s proposition found support in the court circles of France, which was then on the brink of financial disaster. In 1716 a private bank was established (it was converted into a state bank in 1718), the currency of which was guaranteed in the king’s name, and Law became minister of finance of France. However, as a result of excessive issuing of paper currency not backed by gold or silver, the state bank went broke in 1720, and Law fled abroad. Law’s system played a role in the creation of the concepts of the Physiocrats. “The emergence of Physiocracy was connected both with opposition to Colbertism and, in particular, with the hullabaloo over the John Law system” (K. Marx, see Marx and F. Engels, Soch, 2nd ed., vol. 26, part 1, p. 31).


Oeuvres complètes, vols. 1–3. Paris, 1934. (Published by P. Harsin).


Anikin, A. V. lunost’ nauki Moscow, 1971.


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