Quotes from Economists and Others


It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard for their own interest.
-Adam Smith

The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.
- Albert Einstein

Reformers have the idea that change can be achieved by brute sanity.
- George Bernard Shaw

When men are employed they are best contented.
- Benjamin Franklin

Our necessities are few but our wants are endless.
- Fortune Cookie

Investment is a flighty bird which needs to be controlled.
- J.R. Hicks

Nothing so weakens a government as inflation.
- J.K. Galbraith

Why does a public discussion of economic policy so often show the abysmal ignorance of the participants?
- Robert Solow, Nobel Laureate

We might as well reasonably dispute whether it is the upper or the under blade of a pair of scissors that cuts a piece of paper, as whether value is governed by demand or supply.
- Alfred Marshall

Love of money is the root of all evil.
- The New Testament

Lack of money is the root of of all evil.
- George Bernard Shaw

The truth is never pure and rarely simple.
- Oscar Wilde

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.
- Aldous Huxley

Money is a machine for doing quickly and commodiously what would be done, though less quickly and commodiously, without it.
- J.S. Mill

All decent people live beyond their incomes, and those who aren't respectable live beyond other people's incomes. A few gifted individuals manage to do both.
- Saki

Blessed are the young, for they shall inherit the national debt.
- Herbert Hoover

All progress is precarious, and the solution of one problem brings us face to face with another problem.
- Martin Luther King

Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it.
- Syrus (1st century B.C.)

There was a time when a fool and his money were soon parted, but now it happens to everybody.
- Adlai Stevenson

The best way to ruin a country is to debauch its currency.
- Vladimir Lenin

The free enterprise system is absolutely too important to be left to the competitive forces of the marketplace.
- U.S. Senator

When buying and selling is controlled by legislation, the first ones to be bought are the legislators.
- Anonymous

Men, like animals, naturally multiply in proportion to the means of their subsistence.
- Adam Smith

Free trade, one of the greatest blessings which a government can confer on a people, is in almost every country unpopular.
- Lord Thomas Macauley

From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.
- Karl Marx

Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains!
- Karl Marx

There is always enough for the needy, there is never enough for the greedy.
- Mahatma Gandhi

No nation was ever ruined by trade.
- Benjamin Franklin

Everything's a trade-off. If you want a high standard of living, you have to settle for a low quality of life.
- Anonymous

Inflation is like toothpaste. Once it's out, you can hardly get it back in again.
- Karl Pohl, former West German central banker

A recession is when your neighbor is out of work. A depression is when you are out of work.
- Harry Truman

The best of all monopoly profits is a quiet life.
- J.R. Hicks

Protectionism is the institutionalization of economic failure.
- Edward Heath

Next to bombing, rent control is the most effective technique so far known for destroying cities.
- Assar Lindbeck

Supply creates its own demand.
- J.B. Say

There have been three great inventions since the beginning of time: fire, the wheel, and central banking.
- Will Rogers

The value of a yellow metal (gold), originally chosen as money because it tickled the fancy of savages, is clearly a chancy and irrelevant thing on which to base the value of our money and the stability of our industrial system.
- D.H. Robertson

Gold is a sideshow.
- Paul Samuelson

Neither a state nor a bank ever have had unrestricted power of issuing paper money without abusing that power.
- David Ricardo

Masters are always and everywhere in a sort of tacit, but constant and uniform combination, not to raise the wages of labor.
- Adam Smith

People in the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in some contrivance to raise prices.
- Adam Smith

Trade unionism is not socialism. It is the capitalism of the proletariat.
- George Bernard Shaw

Buy land. They ain't making any more of the stuff.
- Will Rogers

The economy of the future might be called the "spaceman economy," in which the earth has become a single spaceship, without unlimited reservoirs of anything.
- Kenneth Boulding

Government is an art, not a science, and an adventure, not a planned itinerary.
- Donald Creighton

Democracy will defeat the economist at every turn on its own genre.
- Harold Innis

It is very odd that, enjoying one of the highest living standards in the world, Canadians in all walks of life should nevertheless believe that their economy is a frail, hothouse creation.
- John Dales

Teach a parrot to say demand and supply, and you have created an economist.
- Anonymous

We have one asset, and that's people.
- Sylvia Ostry

I have observed that we all get the same amount of ice. The rich get it in the summertime and the poor get it in the winter.
- Bat Masterson

As capital accumulates, the lot of the laborer must grow worse.
- Karl Marx

Inflation is the time when those who have saved for a rainy day get soaked.
- Anonymous

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation, the second is war. Both bring temporary prosperity; both bring permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.
- Ernest Hemingway

In the long run we are all dead.
- John Maynard Keynes