Economics Quotes

The time has come Walras has said
To speak of many things.

English translation of the Russian translation of

The time has come the walrus said
To speak of many things.
from Gerschenkron, "Samuelson's text in Soviet Russia," Journal of Economic Literature Volume 16, Number 2, June 1978, p. 563

Archbold, John, President of Standard Oil

Well, gentlemen, life's just one damn thing after another.

15 May 1911, on being informed of the court order to break up Standard Oil. Source:

Axinn, Stephen M. economist will forcefully express the view that the only meaningful goal of the rational business executive is the maximization of his own profits. But, even that is not going to ring true to anyone who has ever experienced a situation where he had to put his son-in-law in a business.

"A lawyer's response," Antitrust Law Journal 52(3), September 1983, p. 647.


New mathematical theories may be deeper, simpler and more general than their predecessors, but say nothing about the world.
Interpreting Macroeconomics, Routledge: London and New York 1995, pp. 140-141.

Baumol order for a writer to produce something which is original and correct, it is not absolutely necessary that his predecessors have been wrong.
"Baumol's sales-maximization model: reply," American Economic Review 54(6), December 1964, p. 1081.

Bittlingmayer and Hazlett

The basic facts are straightforward, but interpretations vary.

"DOS Kapital Has antitrust action against Microsoft created value in the computer industry," Journal of Financial Economics, 55(3), 2000, pp. 329-60

Blank, David M.

Theory and introspection have their proper place in economic analysis but at some point they must be tested by the actual reactions of the marketplace.
"The quest for quantity and diversity in television programming," American Economic Review 56(1/2), March 1966, p. 449.


Everyone for himself," cried the elephant, as he danced among the chickens.
The Antitrust Paradox.


He looked toward a diversified economy and a decentralized society. When people grew excited about experiments in Soviet Russia, Brandeis would say "Why should anyone want to go to Russia when one can go to Denmark?"
Schlesinger, The Politics of Upheaval, p. 221.

Bresnahan, Timothy F.

Economists ought to know about the economy.
"Sutton's Sunk Costs and Market Structure: Price Competition, Advertising, and the Evolution of Concentration," Rand Journal of Economics 23(1), Spring, 1992, p. 151.

Callender, Guy S.

The chief economic writers of our day are as innocent of any thorough knowledge of history in the broad sense as ever were Ricardo and his followers. Moreover not a few of them show even less familiarity with the concrete facts of economic life of their own time and quite as great a liking for abstract treatment of the subject.
"The position of American economic history," American Historical Review 19(1), October, 1913, p. 82.

Carr, Wildon

It is better to be vaguely right than precisely wrong.
Reported in Shove, "The place of Marshall's Principles in the development of economic theory," Economic Journal December 1942, p. 323.

Caves, Richard

Constrained-maximization problems are mother's milk to the well-trained economist.
"Industrial organization, corporate strategy, and structure," Journal of Economic Literature, 18, March 1980, p. 88.

Chirinko, Robert S.

Persuasive theoretical arguments are necessary, but far from sufficient, for policy makers to take notice.
"Business fixed investment spending: modeling strategies, empirical results, and policy implications," Journal of Economic Literature 31(4), December 1993, p. 1901.

Cipolla, Carlo M.

...quantity is not necessarily synonymous with quality and brilliant ideas are not a function of the number of titles printed.
"The diffusion of innovations in early modern Europe," Comparative Studies in Society and History 14(1), January 1972, pp. 46-52.

Clark, John Bates

As the work progresses the careful reader will insert mental interrogation points here and there. He will find that his interest increases as the interrogation points become more frequent, and that it culminates where they are changed to marks of positive dissent. I venture to record the opinion that the value of the work reaches a maximum in a passage that is demonstrably incorrect.
"Marshall's Principles of Economics," Political Science Quarterly 6(1), March 1891, p. 129.

In the view of the practical man an economist was a person who in his study had reached certain conclusions which were equally unanswerable in themselves and irreconcilable with the facts.
"Monopoly and tariff reduction," Political Science Quarterly 19(3), September 1904, p. 376.

Clark, John Maurice

It takes resolution to go forth from the ease and beautiful simplicity of a well-formed hypothesis and struggle with amorphous facts.
"A contribution to the theory of competitive price," Quarterly Journal of Economics 28(4), August 1914, pp. 747-771, p. 748.

Economic theorists are notorious (or deserve to be), for ignoring, or at least leaving out of their theoretical systems, facts which have been under their noses for generations.
"Monopolistic tendencies, their character and consequences," Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science 18(2), January 1939, pp. 2-10.

There seems to be no danger that research will answer all the questions that confront us in connection with this subject.
"Common and disparate elements in national growth and decline," Problems in the Study of Economic Growth, NBER 1949, p. 44.

Coase, R. H.

We must first note that economic factors are taken into account in a world in which ignorance, prejudice, and mental confusion, encouraged rather than dispelled by the political organization, exert a strong influence on policy making.
"The economics of broadcasting and government policy," American Economic Review 56(1/2), March 1966, p. 440.
I do not know how far Simons discussed with his colleagues or included in his teaching the views to be found in A Positive Program for Laissez Faire, but if he did, the very looseness of his teaching would have been found congenial by the law professors...
"Law and economics at Chicago," Journal of Law and Economics 36(1, Part 2), April 1993, pp. 239-254.

Cook, P. Lesley

There are many theories because each is based on different assumptions about the world; it is their relevance rather than their logic which is in dispute.
Effects of Mergers, London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, p. 17.

Davis, Richard M.

It is commonplace that economists spend a discouraging proportion of their working time in controversy over definition.

"The current state of profit theory," American Economic Review 42(3), June 1952, p. 245.

Dixit, Avinash

The analyses ... often become too competent to be comprehensible...

"On the optimum structure of commodity taxes," American Economic Review June 1970, p. 295.

Eckel, Edwin C.

During periods of high prices we are always deluged with remedies, mostly of the sort which require new legislation or prosecutions. At times the remedy in highest popular favor is dissolving the more successful corporations; at other times it is the elimination of the retailer; at still others, it may be government ownership of railroads, or old-age pensions, or prohibition. We are a versatile people, and have numerous remedies to suggest. The Russian mind is simpler, so that for over a century the standard Russian remedy was to kill the nearest Jew. As to actual results it is a question as to whether either Russian or American popular remedies have much effect.

Coal, Iron and War. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1920, p. 242.

Economic Commission for Europe

Those who attempt to make forecasts of steel consumption and production are inevitably exposed to two criticisms in a sense contradictory. On the one hand it is argued that they have been prisoners of their mathematics. But without mathematics objective and scientific estimates are impossible. On the other, it is suggested that the forecasters have built up an elaborate superstructure designed to "prove" conclusions established in advance. The reader must judge for himself whether a proper course has been steered between the Scylla of undue reliance on the iron logic of mathematics and the Charybdis of preconceived views.
United Nations, Economic Commission for Europe Long-term Trends and Problems of the European Steel Industry. Geneva, 1959, p. 168.

The Economist

It is not a widely held view, but there is a lot to be said for economists.

"The Stern tendency," 6 November 2006, internet edition.

Edgeworth, F. Y.

Economic controversy is generally a thankless task. You cannot hope to make any impression on your opponent. Yet he is the only reader on whose interest you can count.

"Professor Graziani on the mathematical theory of monopoly," Economic Journal 8, June 1898, p. 234.

Edison, Thomas Alva

Results? Why, man, I have gotten a lot of results. I know several thousand things that won't work.

Edwards, H. R.

Reality is very complex.

"Price formation in manufacturing industry and excess capacity," Oxford Economic Papers n.s. 7(1), February 1955, p. 99.

Einstein, Albert

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?

I have little patience with scientists who take a board of wood, look for its thinnest part, and drill a great number of holes where drilling is easy.

Ferguson, Charles

Everyone knows, or has strongly suspected, that capital theory is difficult.

"The current state of capital theory...," Southern Economic Journal Volume 39, October 1972, p. 173.


...the profit motive is like sex—it flourishes best in secret.

"The 30,000 managers," Fortune Magazine 21(2), February 1940, p. 111.

Galbraith, John Kenneth

There is an old saying, or should be, that it is a wise economist who recognizes the scope of his own generalizations.

American Capitalism: the Theory of Countervailing Power, p. 129.

Gauss, Carl Friedrich

I have had my solutions for a long time, but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them.

Geroski, Paul A.

Facts are facts, hard and clear, but stylized facts are inevitably a little fuzzy at the edges.

"What do we know about entry?," International Journal of Industrial Organization 13(4), 1995, pp. 421-440, at p. 427.

Goldman, James

I know. You know I know. I know you know I know. We know Henry knows and Henry knows we know it. We're a knowledgeable family.

Geoffrey to Eleanor, The Lion in Winter.

Hale, William Harlan

Herbert Hoover, it has been said, called in the best economists in the country and took the advice of none of them; Franklin Roosevelt called in the worst economists and took the advice of all of them.
"The men behind the President: what they think," Common Sense 7(7), July 1938, pp. 16-20, at p. 16

R. F. Harrod

...the institutional arrangement whereby most professional economists are heavily burdened with teaching and administrative duties may militate against a sufficient admixture of the more laborious forms of statistical and field work.
"Scope and method of economics," Economic Journal 48(191), September 1938, pp. 383-412, at p. 406

Hemingway, Ernest

Everything is on such a clear financial basis in France. It is the simplest country to live in. No one makes things complicated by becoming your friend for any obscure reason. If you want people to like you you have only to spend a little money. I spent a little money and the waiter liked me. He appreciated my valuable qualities. He would be glad to see me, and would want me at his table. It would be a sincere liking because it would have a sound basis. I was back in France.

The Sun Also Rises.

J. R. Hicks

Some of the most serious fallacies of traditional economics have been due to confusion between optimum and equilibrium conditions; the apparent influence of Dr. Pangloss upon the development of economic thought is for the most part nothing but pure intellectual error.
"The rehabilitation of consumers' surplus," Review of Economic Studies 8(2), February 1941, pp. 108-116, footnote 1, p. 112.

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, Jr.
In my opinion, economists and sociologists are the people to whom we ought to turn more than we do for instruction in the grounds and foundations of all rational decisions.

quoted at pp. 72-3, footnote 2 in Richard T. Ely "Industrial liberty," Publications of the American Economic Association 3rd Series, 3(1), February 1902, pp. 59-79.

Upon this point a page of history is worth a volume of logic.

New York Trust Company et al. v. Eisner 256 U.S. 345 at 349.

Hotelling, Harold

...a discontinuity, like a vacuum, is abhorred by nature.

"Stability in competition," Economic Journal, Volume 39, 1929, p. 44.

Ijiri & Simon, Skew Distributions and the Sizes of Business Firms, Amserdam: North-Holland Publishing Company, 1977.

The difficulty is that, with sufficiently large samples ..., the chi-square test will almost always reject the hypothesis that the observed data agree with those calculated theoretically. The reason for this is that our theories are always only approximate theories that do not capture all the fine structure of the phenomena. Hence, with sufficiently large samples of sufficiently good data, the deviations of data from theory almost always reveal themseves. However, we cannot conclude from this that the theory should be rejected; the only valid conclusion to be drawn is that the theory is only a first approximation - hardly surprising - and that the next step in the investigation is to look for an additional mechanism that could be incorporated in the theory so as to lead to a better second approximation.

pp. 4-5.

However, economics is not a discipline in which hypotheses that follow from classical assumptions, or that are necessary for classical conclusions, are quickly abandoned in the face of hostile evidence.

p. 7.

James, Clifford L. "Commons on institutional economics," American Economic Review 27(1), March 1937, pp. 61-75, p. 61:

The critical nature of subsequent comments should not deter the reader from making his own examination of Professor Commons' book. It is interesting and stimulating, characteristics not typical of economic writings.

Johnson, Samuel

No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money.
In Boswell's Life.

Sir John having affected to complain of the attacks made upon his Memoirs, Dr. Johnson said, 'Nay, sir, do not complain. It is advantageous to an authour, that his book should be attacked as well as praised. Fame is a shuttlecock. If it be struck only at one end of the room, it will soon fall to the ground. To keep it up, it must be struck at both ends.'
In Boswell's (1924) Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides with Samuel Johnson, LL.D. London: Oxford University Press, p. 431.

Judge, Griffiths, Hill & Lee (1980, p. 417)

...since it is known that we generally work with false models and since the power of statistical tests increases with sample size, a statistical test can be relied on in virtually every application to reject the restricted model (hypothesis) for a large enough sample.(emphasis in original)


This argument is formally correct but it may be shown that its implications are unrealistic and that consequently there must be something wrong in the underlying assumptions.
"On the Gibrat distribution," Econometrica 13(2), April 1945, pp. 161-2.

Kamien & Schwartz in most empirical studies in all branches of economics, the available data and the available statistical methodology tend to dictate the nature of the analysis. Economic theory tends to be more suggestive than definitive in specifying the functional forms that relate to the variables being investigated.

Market structure and innovation, p. 53.

Keynes, John Maynard

Unlike physics, for example, such parts of the bare bones of economic theory as are expressible in mathematical form are extremely easy compared with the economic interpretation of the complex and incompletely known facts of experience, and lead one a very little way towards establishing useful results.

"Alfred Marshall," Collected Works Volume 10, 1972, p. 186.

Kierkegaard, Soren

Life must be understood backwards; but ... it must be lived forward.

Kindleberger, Charles P.

The first derivative is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Knight, Frank H.

...even professors of economics, to say nothing of the public, do not generally have scientific minds.

Risk, uncertainty & profit, p. xxii.

Remember that my real title must be "A Few Brief and Hasty Observations Suggested by the Topic Printed in the Program."
"Institutionalism and empiricism in economics," American Economic Review 42(2), May 1952, pp. 45-55.

Koopmans, Tjalling C.

One cannot help but feel uneasy in the face of so much ingenuity.

Three Essays On the State Of Economic Science, p. 139.

Kreps, David M.

It is universally appreciated, I think, that theorists are able to tweak their assumptions in order to reach any conclusion they wish. The believability of the conclusion depends not only on the fact that it was reached but on how hard the theorist had to tweak the model to get there.

"Economics-the current position," Dædalus 126(1), Winter 1997, footnote 10.

Krugman, Paul R.

However, the fact that an economist offers a theoretical analysis does not and should not automatically command respect. What is needed is some assurance that the analysis is actually relevant.

"Introduction: new thinking about trade policy," Strategic Trade Policy and the New International Economics. Cambridge, Massachusetts and London: MIT Press, 1988, pp. 4-5.

Kumar, Dharma (attributed)

Time is a device to stop everything from happening at once ... space is a device to stop everything from happening in Cambridge.

Note: curiously, this appears to refer to Cambridge, England.
Harcourt, "Some Cambridge Controversies...", Journal of Economic Literature, June 1969, p. 369.

Leonhardt, David

A tip for generalists who try to read economic research papers: If you get to a section that’s incomprehensible, don’t give up. Just skip to the next section.

"Too little information, then too much," New York Times, 23 September 2008 (internet edition).

Leontief, Wassily

Page after page of professional economic journals are filled with mathematical formulas leading the reader from sets of more or less plausible but entirely arbitrary assumptions to precisely stated but irrelevant theoretical conclusions.

Science, Volume 217, 9 July 1982, p. 106.

Machlup, Fritz

The danger of tautological propositions is considerable in discussions of the concept of normal profits. Because supernormal profits seem to invite newcomers to an industry and sub-normal profits seem to drive away those who are in an industry, some writers are inclined to define normal profits as the earnings of the fixed resources in an industry which neither grows nor declines in size or number of firms. It should be clear that such a definition is useless: it muddles together attractiveness and actual afflux, desirbility of entry and ease of entry, zero profits and monopoly rents.

"Competition, pliopoly and profit," Economica, NS 9(1), February 1942, p. 11.

Marshall, Alfred

I admit that these terms [`final utility,' `marginal production,' &c.] and the diagrams connected with them repel some readers, and fill others with the vain imagination that they have mastered difficult economics problems, when really they have done little more than learn the language in which parts of those problems can be expressed, and the machinery by which they can be handled. When the actual conditions of particular problems have not been studied, such knowledge is little better than a derrick for sinking oil-wells erected where there are no oil-bearing strata.
"On rent," Economic Journal 3(9), March 1893, p. 81, fn. 2.
Analysis is nothing else but breaking up a complex operation into scraps, so that they may be easily handled and thoroughly investigated. Afterwards the scraps have to be put together again, and considered in relation to many other complex notions, and the intricately interwoven facts of life.
"On rent," Economic Journal 3(9), March 1893, p. 82.
Nature's action is complex: and nothing is gained in the long run by pretending that it is simple, and trying to describe it in a series of elementary propositions.

Principles, 8th edition, pp. ix-x.

...yet it seems doubtful whether any one spends his time well in reading lengthy translations of economic doctrines into mathematics, that have not been made by himself.

Principles, 8th edition, p. xi.

In economics, as in physics, changes are generally continuous.

Principles, 8th edition, p. 409n.

Marx, Karl

I am stretching out this volume, since those German dogs estimate the value of books by their cubic contents.

Marx & Engels, Selected Correspondence Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1956, p. 156.

Mason, Edward S.

The task of delineating the role of the large firm in the American economy is partly one of removing the rubbish that surrounds the discussion of the subject.

Economic Concentration and the Monopoly Problem Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1959, pp. 13-14.

A story that I fear is apocryphal circulated in Cambridge on the occasion of Veblen's second visit when it was thought he might be invited to Harvard. President Lowell is supposed to have said, "Professor Veblen, we are much impressed with your work but there are stories concerning your relations with women, and I must assure you that such relations would not be tolerated in Cambridge." To which Veblen is supposed to have replied: "Mr. President, after having been introduced to the wives of members of the economics faculty, I can assure you, you need have no misgivings."

"The Harvard Department of Economics from the beginning to World War II," Quarterly Journal of Economics 97(3), August 1982, p. 409, footnote 23.

McGrath, Alister

The solution was eventually found by Johannes Gutenberg, who made the breakthrough that finally established printing as the communication technology of the future. Similar ideas may have been under development around the same time in Prague and Haarlem. But in business, the key question is not about who else is in the race, it's about who gets there first. Johannes Gutenberg was the first to make the new technology work, ensuring his place in any history of the human race.

In the Beginning. New York: Doubleday, 2001, p. 9.

Mill, John Stuart

Political Economy, in truth, has never pretended to give advice to mankind with no lights but its own; though people who knew nothing but political economy (and therefore knew it ill) have taken upon themselves to advise, and could only do so by such lights as they had.

Autobiography. New York: P. F. Collier and Son, 1909, p. 152.

A. L. Nichol

Economists who speak the English tongue are strangely intimidated by mathematical symbols.

"Robinson's Economics of Imperfect Competition," Journal of Political Economy 42(2), April 1934, p. 259.

Peltzman, Sam

Unfortunately, theory is silent on exactly when the long run arrives.

"Prices rise faster than they fall," Journal of Political Economy 108(3), June 2000, pp. 484.

Perkins, Frances

You can always get sympathy by using the word small. With little industries you feel as you do about a little puppy.

Quoted in Hawley, Ellis W. The New Deal and the problem of monopoly. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1966, pp. 82-3.

Pindyck, Robert

...the real world is not as rational and dynamically optimal as economists would like to believe.

"OPEC oil pricing, and the implications for consumers and producers," in Griffen & Teece, editors OPEC Behavior and World Oil Prices, 1982, p. 179.

Puzo, Mario

Even as a young man, Vito Corleone became known as a "man of reasonableness." He never uttered a threat. He always used logic that proved to be irresistible. He always made certain that the other fellow got his share of profit. Nobody lost. He did this, of course, by obvious means. Like many businessmen of genius he learned that free competition was wasteful, monopoly efficient. And so he simply set about achieving that efficient monopoly.

The Godfather.

Rabin, Matthew

A colleague saw the same model---calibrating the elasticity of demand facing a Cournot oligopolist as a function of the number of firms in the industry---described at the University of Chicago and at M.I.T. A Chicago economist derived the formula and said, "Look at how few firms you need to get close to infinite elasticities and perfect competition." An M.I.T. economist derived the same formula and said, "Look at how large n has to be before you get anywhere close to an infinite elasticity and perfect competition."

"Psychology and Economics," 28 September 1996, footnote 67, p. 33.

Reder, Melvin W.

My readers have been unanimous in urging reduction in over-all length, but virtually all of them also suggested "small additions."

Footnote 1 in "Chicago economics: permanence and change," Journal of Economic Literature 20(1), March 1982, pp. 1-38.

Riche, M. F.

As many as 25 percent of the guests at a university dinner party can come from the economics department without spoiling the conversation.

quoted in Parker, Tom Rules of Thumb.

Robbins, Lionel

[Hume] develops his arguments by a series of models. He doesn't call them models in the pretentious way in which we envelope, very often, pure banalities in this jargon, ...

A History of Economic Thought, The LSE Lectures, Steven G. Medema and Warren J. Samuels, editors, Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 1998, p. 106.

Robertson, D. H.

If economists did not concern themselves with economic efficiency, nobody would.

Attributed (Donald Dewey, "Economists and antitrust: the circular road," Antitrust Bulletin 35(2), Summer 1990, pp. 349-371, at 353).

Robinson, E. A. G.

Anyone who has ever done business with committees knows that five people can reach a decision, fifteen people can be persuaded by a man who has made up his mind, and twenty-five people are a debating society.

The Structure of Competitive Industry, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1958, p. 43.

Russell, Bertrand

Obviousness is always the enemy of correctness.

Mathematics and Metaphysicians.

Sampson, Anthony

...many of the problems of oil have been crude...

"The Seven Sisters," p. xiv.

Samuelson, Paul A.

Marshall's crime is to pretend to handle imperfect competition with tools only applicable to perfect competition.

"The monopolistic competition revolution," (p. 25, Volume 3, Collected Scientific Papers.)

Say, J. B.

I'il n’est pas en notre pouvoir de changer la nature des choses. Il faut les étudier telles qu’elles sont.

Cours, 2d ed., tome 1, p. 72.

Scherer, F. M.

...course titles and even course descriptions often fail to reveal what is actually taught (much less learned)...

"Technological change and the modern corporation."

...the purely theoretical articles chosen for inclusion added rather little to our understanding of the phenomena addressed. There are two main reasons: the lack of a serious effort to root theoretical constructs in observed real-world phenomena, and the fact that with an often minor twiddling of assumptions, the models yield quite different conclusions.
"Assessing progress in research on industrial evolution and economic growth: a review article," Small Business Economics 16(3), May 2001, p.239.

Schumpeter, Joseph A.

It is however always important to remember that the ability to see things in their correct perspective may be, and often is, divorced from the ability to reason correctly and vice versa. That is why a man may be a very good theorist and yet talk absolute nonsense....

Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. New York: Harper & Row, Colophon edition, 1975, p. 76, footnote 3.

Shaw, George Bernard

Besides, do any of us understand what we are doing? If we did, would we ever do it?

Henry Higgins in Pygmalion, Act II.

Shubik, Martin

There is a history of mathematical models of oligopolistic competition dating from Cournot (1838) to the theory of games. There is also a literature generated by institutional economists, lawyers, and administrators interested in formulating and implementing public policy. It has been the tendency of these groups to work almost as though the other did not exist.

Structure and Behavior. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1980, p. 21.

Smith, Adam

The discipline of colleges and universities is in general contrived, not for the benefit of the students, but for the interest, or more properly speaking, for the ease of the masters. Its object is, in all cases, to maintain the authority of the master, and whether he neglects or performs his duty, to oblige the students in all cases to behave toward him as if he performed it with the greatest diligence and ability.

The Wealth Of Nations, Cannan edition, p. 720.

Solow, Robert M.

But part of the job of economics is weeding out errors. That is much harder than making them, but also more fun.

quoted in Jorgenson & Griliches, Review of Economic Studies 34(3), July 1967, p. 248.

Stephenson, George

Where combination is possible, competition is impossible.

quoted in Charles Frances Adams, Jr. Railroads: Their Origins and Problems New York: Cosimo Classics, 2005, p. 86.

Stigler, George J. is distressing how often one can guess the answer given to an economic question merely by knowing who asks it.

"The economics of minimum wage legislation," American Economic Review 36(3), June 1946, p. 358.

The study of economic theory is not defensible on æsthetic grounds — it hardly rivals in elegance the mathematics or physics our sophomores learn. The theory is studied only as an aid in solving real problems, and it is good only in the measure that it performs this function.

"Monopolistic Competition in retrospect," in Five Lectures on Economic Problems, London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1949, p. 22.

To determine whether any industry is workably competitive, therefore, simply have a good graduate student write his dissertation on the industry and render a verdict. It is crucial to this test, of course, that no second graduate student be allowed to study the industry.
"Discussion," American Economic Review 46(2), May 1956, p. 505.

This paper was prepared for a lecture at Harvard University, whence its informality and ad hominem illustrations.

Opening footnote in "The politics of political economists," Quarterly Journal of Economics, Volume 73, November 1959, reprinted in Stigler, Geroge J. Essays in the History of Economics Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.

Here P represents Hermann Paasche, who, like Laspeyres, was not the first to propose the index named after him. If we should ever encounter a case where a theory is named for the correct man, it will be noted.

The Theory of Price. New York, The Macmillan Company, third edition, 1966, p. 77. I am indebted to Bruce T. Allen for this reference.

The writing of textbooks is apparently not a thought-intensive activity.

"The literature of economics: the case of the kinked oligopoly demand curve," Economic Inquiry April 1978, p. 200.

New ideas are sold very much the way new automobiles are sold: by exaggerating their superiority over the older models.

"Does economics have a useful past?," History of Political Economy 1969, p. 222.

Taussig, F. W.

"Our subject offers peculiar opportunities for training people to think, and to think with care and consistency."

"Seligman's Principles of Economics," Quarterly Journal of Economics Volume 20, 1906, pp. 622-633, p. 633.

Willard W. Thorp

...a monopoly is most significant in times of prosperity. As some one said not long ago, "Who cares whether the price of copper is eight cents or twelve cents if no one is buying copper?"

"The persistence of the merger movement," American Economic Review 21(1), March 1931, pp. 77-89, p. 86.

Trillin, Calvin

"Law professors were never like economics professors," a Harvard Law professor told me. "If you disagreed with someone, you didn't call him a fool."

"Harvard Law," The New Yorker, March 26, 1984, p. 54.

Vickrey, William

To stick to the present situation would be something like a man who was observed in Times Square looking earnestly along the pavement. He was asked what he was looking for. He said "I lost my watch."

"Where did you lose it?"

"I lost it in the alley."

"Why don't you look in the alley?"

"It is dark there."

In other words, it is no use looking for something that is easy to find merely because it is easy to find when it really is not what we want anyway."

p. 743, Government Price Statistics Hearings before the Subcommittee on Economic Statistics of the Joint Economic Committee, 87th Congress, May 1-5, 1961.

Watson, Thomas J. , 1945.

I think there is a world market for about five computers.

quoted in Peter H. Salus, A quarter century of UNIX. Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1994, p. 16.

Weadock, Glenn E.

It's a legal document. Legal English is often different from plain English.

13 January 1998, during cross-examination at a contempt hearing against Microsoft Corp. in U.S. District Court, Washington, D.C.

Wilson, Thomas

Is there any other subject where the student is led so far astray in his undergraduate work on the implicit understanding that, if he carries on long enough, he may be put right later?

"Restrictive practices," pp. 114-167 in John Perry Miller, editor Competition Cartels and Their Regulation. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Company, 1962.

Wyzanski, Judge

And in connection with the Sherman Act, it is delusive to treat opinions written by different judges at different times as pieces of a jig-saw puzzle which can be, by effort, fitted correctly into a single pattern.

U.S. v. United Shoe Machinery Corporation 110 F. Supp. 295 at 342.