200 Years of the Theory of Comparative Advantage

by Shruti Rajagopalan

Today is the 200th anniversary of David Ricardo’s On the Principles of Political Economy and Taxation, published on April 19, 1817. This remarkable, and rather unintuitive idea, is an essential component of every economist’s arsenal. When challenged by the mathematician Stan Ulam to name one proposition in the social sciences that was both true and non-trivial, Paul Samuelson said it was the theory of comparative advantage.

Continue reading

An Appreciation: James M. Buchanan (1919-2013)

by Shruti Rajagopalan* 

James M Buchanan, who died last week at age 93, was one of the most profound thinkers of our age. Few Indians would be familiar with his academic contributions or even recognize his name. Yet, the insights from his research would strike a chord with every Indian navigating the inefficiencies and excesses of government on a daily basis.

Buchanan, professor emeritus at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, won the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1986 for his contributions to the economic analysis of political decision-making. By bringing politics back into economics, Buchanan made economics more humane, realistic, interesting, and relevant. He challenged the economics orthodoxy, dared to be different, inspired his students and colleagues, and developed one of the most unique and creative research programs in economics at the Center for the Study of Public Choice at George Mason University.  Continue reading