Simon Newcomb, 1835-1909.
Simon Newcomb was one of America's earliest (but not complete) converts to the Marginalist Revolution.
But he was neither an economist by training nor vocation. Rather, Newcomb was a renowned Johns
Hopkins mathematician, physicist and astronomer who had risen from rags to
intellectual riches. Nonetheless, he was equipped to help economics along its mathematical
track. Newcomb was also one of the main developers of the Quantity
Theory of Money (before Fisher) and was among the first economists to distinguish carefully
between stocks and flows and, in doing so, provided the earliest clean statement of the
theory of loanable funds.
On the whole, Newcomb was not necessarily a very nice person. He was
the quintessential American apologist and
a steadfast opponent of the Institutionalist
He engaged Richard T. Ely in a
particularly nasty Methodenstreit in the
1880s and 1890s, eventually being instrumental in securing the latter's departure from
Johns Hopkins and the transformation of the American Economic
Association into a wider professional organization.
Newcomb can be characterized as an "apologist"
for economic doctrine. He was an avid proponent of laissez-faire,
but he coupled that with a vociferous and outspoken opposition to the emerging American
labor union movement. Naturally, as a faithful devotee of the Quantity Theory, he helped
create, he was also opposed to the inconvertibility of paper currency and the
Major works of Simon Newcomb
- A Critical
Examination of our Financial Policy during the Southern Rebellion, 1865.
- "The Labor Question",
- "The Let-alone Principle",
Theory of Political Economy", by S.N., 1872, North American Review
of a Telescope", 1873, Scribner's
Science in America", 1874, NAR
- "Some Talks of an Astronomer,
Part 1, Part
2", 1874, Harper's
- "The Method and Province of Political Economy",
- " Abstract Science in America, 1776-1876",
- " Recent Astronomical Progress",
Manufactured Comet", 1878, Harper's
- "Reminiscences of an Astronomer: Part I, Part II, Part III"
- ABC of
of the Sun", 1878, Princeton Review
- "Law and Design in Nature",
- "Evolution and Theology. A Rejoinder",
- "The Standard of Value",
1879, North American Review
Organization of Labor", 1880, Princeton Review
- "Our Political Dangers",
- "Principles of Taxation",
Observatories", 1881, NAR
- "A Small Telescope and What To See With It",
- "A Visit To Cetywayo",
- "The Two Schools of Political Economy", 1884, Princeton Review.
- " The Lick Observatory Of California",
- Plain Man's Talk on the Labor Question, 1886.
- "Aspects of the Economic Discussion", 1886, Science.
- "Dr. Ely on the Labor Movement", 1886, The Nation.
- Principles of Political Economy, 1886.
- "Soap-Bubbles of Socialism",
we Make it Rain?", 1891, NAR
- "Why We Need a National University",
- "The Wreck Of The "Columbia". A Story",
- "An Astronomer's Friendship",
1900, Atlantic Monthly
- "Science and the Government",
Resources on Simon Newcomb