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John Kenneth Galbraith

John Kenneth Galbraith was born in Iona Station, Ontario, Canada on October 15, 1908. He graduated from the University of Toronto and then studied in California from where he would go on to become a widely respected economist in the United States. He was appointed Professor of Economics at Harvard University in 1949.

He is regard as one of the leading economists of the left. An important work was American Capitalism: The concept of countervailing power which was published in 1952. In it he outlines how the American economy in the future would be managed by a triumverate of big business, big labour, and an activist government. He contrasted this with the previous pre-depression era where big business had free reign over the economy. In another work The Affluent Society Galbraith outlines how to be successful the United States would need to make large public investments in items such as highways and education.

Galbraith served a tenure as deputy head of the Office of Price Administration and after the war he became an advisor to post-war administrations in Germany and Japan.

He was a friend of President John F. Kennedy. He later served as U.S. ambassador to India from 1961 to 1963. There he attempted to aid the Indian government with developing the economy.

He can be seen as something of an iconoclast among North American economists, as he seems to enjoy describing ways in which economic theory does not always mesh with real life.


In The New Industrial State (1967), he argues that very few industries in the United States fit the model of perfect competition.

In A Short History of Financial Euphoria (1990), he traces financial bubbles through several centries, and cautions that what currently seems to be "the next great thing" may not be that great, and may have quite irrational factors promoting it.

Books include:

  • Modern Competition and Business Policy, 1938.
  • A Theory of Price Control, 1952.
  • American Capitalism: The concept of countervailing power, 1952.
  • The Great Crash, 1929, 1954.
  • The Affluent Society, 1958.
  • The Liberal Hour, 1960
  • The New Industrial State, 1967.
  • The Triumph (a novel), 1968.
  • Ambassador's Journal, 1969.
  • Economics, Peace and Laughter, 1972.
  • Power and the Useful Economist, 1973, AER
  • Economics and the Public Purpose, 1973
  • Money, 1975.
  • The Age of Uncertainty (also a BBC 13 part television series), 1977.
  • Annals of an Abiding Liberal, 1979.
  • A Life in Our Times, 1981.
  • A Tenured Professor[?], 1990.
  • A Journey Through Economic Time, 1994.
  • The Good Society: the humane agenda, 1996.
  • The Nature of Mass Poverty
  • Money: Whence It Came, Where It Went

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