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Cantillon, Richard (C. 1680–1734)

Richard Cantillon, born in County Kerry in Ireland and lived a substantial portion of his life in France, was regarded by many historians of economic thought as one of the truly great early economists. He has been praised in the highest terms: Edwin Cannan referred to him as “that extraordinary genius,” W. S. Jevons has credited him with having written “the first treatise on economics,” while F. A. Hayek wrote of him that he contributed more “really original insights of permanent value” to economics than any other writer before 1776.

Although born in Ireland, Cantillon early amassed a fortune as a banker in Paris largely because he foresaw the collapse of John Law's Mississippi scheme. Although his Essai sur la nature du commerce en général (Essay ...

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