Irving Fisher - His Life
Fisher was born in New York state in 1867. He studied science and philosophy at Yale. Here he had a wide variety of interests. For example, he published poetry and works on astronomy, mechanics, and geometry. Despite all of these interests, Fisher was most interested in mathematics and economics. Yale did not have an Economics Department at the time. Regardless, Fisher continued with his interests and earned the first Ph.D. in economics ever awarded by Yale. Fisher stayed at Yale for his whole career.
Fisher had many interests. Due to developing and surviving tuberculosis in his early 30s Fisher had a great interest in health and hygiene. He wrote a national best-seller titled How to Live: Rules for Healthful Living Based on Modern Science. Fisher was also an inventor. His company merged with another to form Remington Rand, which was later known as Sperry Rand. This merger made his a very wealthy man. However, he lost a great deal of this wealth in the stock market crash of 1929. During his life Fisher also campaigned for Prohibition, peace, and eugenics. Fisher died in New York April 29, 1947.
Irving Fisher - His Work
Fisher was a mathematical economist. However, unlike many academics he was also a very clear writer. Thus, he became Fisher was founder or president of both the Econometric Society and the American Economic Association. Although he damaged his reputation by insisting throughout the Great Depression that recovery was imminent.
Irving Fisher was one of America's greatest mathematical economists and one of the clearest economics writers of all time. He had the intellect to use mathematics in virtually all his theories and the good sense to introduce it only after he had clearly explained the central principles in words. And he explained very well. Fisher's Theory of Interest is written so clearly that graduate economics students, who still study it today, often find that they can read—and understand—half the book in one sitting. With other writings in technical economics, this is unheard of.
Although he damaged his reputation by insisting throughout the Great Depression that recovery was imminent, contemporary economic models of interest and capital are based on Fisherian principles. Similarly, monetarism is founded on Fisher's principles of money and prices.
As with many Classical economists, Fisher had a varied background. He was born in New York State in 1867 and his first specialism was mathematics. He graduated from Yale with a BA in maths, but then he turned to economics, gaining a PhD, and was very influential in a variety of areas. One particular area was his development of index numbers - a mathematical technique that is invaluable in economics. Index numbers that we use today include the FTSE index to measure share values and the RPI to measure inflation.
He also wrote about and campaigned for world peace, healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle and was often regarded by his colleagues as something of an eccentric. His influence waned towards the end of his career, but he left behind a legacy of theory that is still very important to us. Much of the Classical and Monetarist theory of inflation is based on his (Fisher) Equation of Exchange.