Jacob Viner

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Jacob Viner
Jacob Viner.jpg
Born(1892-05-03)May 3, 1892
DiedSeptember 12, 1970(1970-09-12) (aged 78)
Nationality Canadian
Institution University of Chicago
Princeton University
Field Economics
School or
Chicago School of Economics
Alma mater Harvard University (Ph.D.), McGill University
Influences Frank W. Taussig, Frank Knight

Jacob Viner ( /ˈvnər/ ; May 3, 1892 – September 12, 1970) was a Canadian economist and is considered with Frank Knight and Henry Simons to be one of the "inspiring" mentors of the early Chicago School of Economics in the 1930s: he was one of the leading figures of the Chicago faculty. [1] Paul Samuelson named Viner (along with Harry Gunnison Brown, Allyn Abbott Young, Henry Ludwell Moore, Frank Knight, Wesley Clair Mitchell, and Henry Schultz) as one of the several "American saints in economics" born after 1860. [2]

Canadians citizens of Canada

Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.

Economist professional in the social science discipline of economics

An economist is a practitioner in the social science discipline of economics.

Frank Hyneman Knight was an American economist who spent most of his career at the University of Chicago, where he became one of the founders of the Chicago school. Nobel laureates Milton Friedman, George Stigler and James M. Buchanan were all students of Knight at Chicago. Ronald Coase said that Knight, without teaching him, was a major influence on his thinking. F.A. Hayek considered Knight to be one of the major figures in preserving and promoting classical liberal thought in the twentieth century. Paul Samuelson named Knight as one of the several "American saints in economics" born after 1860.


Early life

Viner was born to a Jewish family [3] in 1892 in Montreal, Quebec, to Romanian immigrant parents. He earned his undergraduate degree at McGill University in 1914. He received a PhD at Harvard University, where he wrote his dissertation, under trade economist Frank W. Taussig. [4]

Montreal City in Quebec, Canada

Montreal is the most populous municipality in the Canadian province of Quebec and the second-most populous municipality in Canada. Originally called Ville-Marie, or "City of Mary", it is named after Mount Royal, the triple-peaked hill in the heart of the city. The city is centred on the Island of Montreal, which took its name from the same source as the city, and a few much smaller peripheral islands, the largest of which is Île Bizard. It has a distinct four-season continental climate with warm to hot summers and cold, snowy winters.

Quebec Province of Canada

Quebec is one of the thirteen provinces and territories of Canada. It is bordered to the west by the province of Ontario and the bodies of water James Bay and Hudson Bay; to the north by Hudson Strait and Ungava Bay; to the east by the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the province of Newfoundland and Labrador; and to the south by the province of New Brunswick and the US states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York. It also shares maritime borders with Nunavut, Prince Edward Island, and Nova Scotia. Quebec is Canada's largest province by area and its second-largest administrative division; only the territory of Nunavut is larger. It is historically and politically considered to be part of Central Canada.

Romania Sovereign state in Europe

Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe. It has borders with the Black Sea to the southeast, Bulgaria to the south, Ukraine to the north, Hungary to the west, Serbia to the southwest, and Moldova to the east. It has a predominantly temperate-continental climate. With a total area of 238,397 square kilometers, Romania is the 12th largest country and also the 7th most populous member state of the European Union, having almost 20 million inhabitants. Its capital and largest city is Bucharest, and other major urban areas include Cluj-Napoca, Timișoara, Iași, Constanța, Craiova, Brașov, and Galați.

Academic career

Viner was a professor at the University of Chicago from 1916 to 1917 and from 1919 to 1946. At various times, Viner also taught at Stanford and Yale Universities and twice went to the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1946 he left for Princeton University, where he remained until his retirement, in 1960. [5] [6] He was also a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Princeton from 1947 to 1948 and a permanent member there from 1950 to 1970. [7] [8]

University of Chicago Private research university in Chicago, Illinois, United States

The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois. Founded in 1890, the school is located on a 217-acre campus in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, near Lake Michigan. The University of Chicago holds top-ten positions in various national and international rankings.

Stanford University Private research university in Stanford, California

Leland Stanford Junior University is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is known for its academic achievements, wealth, close proximity to Silicon Valley, and selectivity; it ranks as one of the world's top universities.

Yale University Private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

Nobel laureate Milton Friedman studied under Viner while he was at the University of Chicago.[ citation needed ]

Milton Friedman American economist, statistician, and writer

Milton Friedman was an American economist who received the 1976 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his research on consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and the complexity of stabilization policy. With George Stigler and others, Friedman was among the intellectual leaders of the second generation of Chicago school of economics, a methodological movement at the University of Chicago's Department of Economics, Law School and Graduate School of Business from the 1940s onward. Several students and young professors who were recruited or mentored by Friedman at Chicago went on to become leading economists, including Gary Becker, Robert Fogel, Thomas Sowell and Robert Lucas Jr.

Public service

Viner played a role in government, most notably as an advisor to Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau Jr. during the administration of Franklin Roosevelt. During World War II, he served as co-rapporteur to the economic and financial group of the Council on Foreign Relations' "War and Peace Studies" project, along with Harvard economist Alvin Hansen. [9]

United States Secretary of the Treasury Government position

The secretary of the treasury is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury which is concerned with all financial and monetary matters relating to the federal government, and, until 2003, also included several major federal law enforcement agencies. This position in the federal government of the United States is analogous to the minister of finance in many other countries. The secretary of the treasury is a member of the president's Cabinet, and is nominated by the president of the United States. Nominees for secretary of the treasury undergo a confirmation hearing before the United States Senate Committee on Finance before being voted on by the United States Senate.

Henry Morgenthau Jr. 20th century American economist and US Secretary of Treasury

Henry Morgenthau Jr. was the United States Secretary of the Treasury during most of the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. He played a major role in designing and financing the New Deal. After 1937, while still in charge of the Treasury, he played the central role in financing United States participation in World War II. He also played an increasingly major role in shaping foreign policy, especially with respect to Lend-Lease, support for China, helping Jewish refugees, and proposing to prevent Germany from again being a military threat by wrecking its industry and mines.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.



Viner was a noted opponent of John Maynard Keynes during the Great Depression. While he agreed with the policies of government spending pushed by Keynes, Viner argued that Keynes's analysis was flawed and would not stand in the long run.

John Maynard Keynes English economist

John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, was a British economist, whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. Originally trained in mathematics, he built on and greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles, and was one of the most influential economists of the 20th century. Widely considered the founder of modern macroeconomics, his ideas are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics, and its various offshoots.

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries, it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

Known for his economic modeling of the firm, including the long- and the short-run cost curves, his work is still used today. [10]

Viner is further known for having added the terms "trade creation" and "trade diversion" to the canon of economics in 1950. He also made important contributions to the theory of international trade and to the history of economic thought. While he was at Chicago, Viner co-edited the Journal of Political Economy with Frank Knight.

His work, Studies in the Theory of International Trade (1937), discusses the history of economic thought and is a historical source for the Bullionist controversy in 19th-century Britain.

Atomic bomb

Viner spoke at the Conference on Atomic Energy Control in 1945, stating "that the atomic bomb was the cheapest way yet devised of killing human beings" and that atomic bombs "will be peacemaking in effect," perhaps making him the founder of nuclear deterrence. [11]

Major publications

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  1. Alan O. Ebenstein, Hayek's journey: the mind of Friedrich Hayek , Palgrave Macmillan, 2003, pp. 164–165
  2. Ryan, Christopher Keith (1985). "Harry Gunnison Brown: economist". Iowa State University. Retrieved 7 January 2019.
  3. edited by Stephen Harlan Norwood, Eunice G. Pollack Encyclopedia of American Jewish History, Volume 1 August 2007
  4. "Viner, Jacob". etcweb.princeton.edu. Retrieved 2019-09-02.
  5. "Jacon Viner". britannica. 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
  6. Leitch, Alexander (1978). "Viner, Jacob". Princeton University Press. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
  7. "Jacob Viner". britannica. 2016. Retrieved 2016-01-06.
  8. Leitch, Alexander (1978). "Viner, Jacob". Princeton University Press. Retrieved 2009-10-11.
  9. Michael Wala (1994). The Council on Foreign Relations and American Foreign Policy in the Early Cold War. Berghahn Books. p. 38. The rapporteurs of the Economic and Financial Group
  10. Viner, Jacob (1931). "Cost Curves and Supply Curves". Zeitschrift für Nationalökonomie . 3 (1): 23–46. doi:10.1007/BF01316299. JSTOR   41792520. Reprinted in R. B. Emmett, ed. 2002, The Chicago Tradition in Economics, 1892–1945, Routledge, v. 6, pp. 192–215.
  11. Richard Rhodes (1986). The Making of the Atomic Bomb . Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. pp.  753.

Further reading