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Lionel Robbins

Geburtstag: 22. November 1898
Todesdatum: 15. Mai 1984

Lionel Charles Robbins, Baron Robbins war ein britischer Ökonom und langjähriger Leiter der volkswirtschaftlichen Abteilung der London School of Economics.

Bekannt ist seine Definition von Ökonomie als Verhaltenswissenschaft, die die Beziehung von Zielen und knappen Mitteln mit alternativen Verwendungen untersuche:

Robbins nahm am Ersten Weltkrieg in der britischen Artillerie teil und lehrte von 1925 bis 1961 an der LSE. Er war ein Anhänger von William Stanley Jevons und Philip Wicksteed und stand auch unter dem Einfluss von Léon Walras, Vilfredo Pareto, Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Friedrich Hayek, Friedrich von Wieser und Knut Wicksell. Robbins wurde 1929 Chef der ökonomischen Abteilung der LSE und holte bald Friedrich August von Hayek an sein Institut. John Richard Hicks, Nicholas Kaldor, Abba Lerner und Tibor Scitovsky kamen aus dieser Schule.

Robbins beteiligte sich an der Debatte über sozialistische Wirtschaftsrechnung auf der Seite von Hayek und Ludwig von Mises, und gegen Abba Lerner, Fred Taylor, und Oskar Lange.

Robbins trat ursprünglich als entschiedener Gegner von John Maynard Keynes und der Ökonomenschule von Cambridge auf – er sah die LSE zunächst geradezu als Bollwerk gegen den Keynesianismus. Letzten Endes akzeptierte er aber – anders als Hayek – die „Keynesianische Revolution“.In seinen späteren Jahren wandte sich Robbins der ökonomischen Dogmengeschichte zu. Er erwarb sich große Verdienste um das britische Universitätssystem und wurde am 16. Juni 1959 zum Life Peer mit dem Titel Baron Robbins, of Clare Market in the City of Westminster, geadelt und damit auch Mitglied des House of Lords. 1955 wurde er in die American Philosophical Society und 1966 in die American Academy of Arts and Sciences gewählt. Wikipedia

Zitate Lionel Robbins

„Economics is a science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.“

—  Lionel Robbins

An Essay on the nature and significance of Economic Science (1932), Chapter I: The Subject Matter of Economics
Kontext: The economist studies the disposal of scarce means. He is interested in the way different degrees of scarcity of different goods give rise to different ratios of valuation between them, and he is interested in the way in which changes in conditions of scarcity, whether coming from changes in ends or changes in means—from the demand side or the supply side—affect these ratios. Economics is a science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.

„The conditions of recovery which have been stated do indeed involve the restoration of what has been called capitalism. But the slump was not due to these conditions. On the contrary, it was due to their negation. It was due to monetary mismanagement and State intervention operating in a milieu in which the essential strength of capitalism had already been sapped by war and by policy.“

—  Lionel Robbins

"Conditions of Recovery," ch. 8 of The Great Depression https://mises.org/library/great-depression-0 (Freeport, N. Y.: Books for Libraries Press, 1971; orig. 1934), pp. 193–194.
Kontext: It has been the object…to show that if recovery is to be maintained and future progress assured, there must be a more or less complete reversal of contemporary tendencies of governmental regulation of enterprise. The aim of governmental policy in regard to industry must be to create a field in which the forces of enterprise and the disposal of resources are once more allowed to be governed by the market.But what is this but the restoration of capitalism? And is not the restoration of capitalism the restoration of the causes of depression?If the analysis of this essay is correct, the answer is unequivocal. The conditions of recovery which have been stated do indeed involve the restoration of what has been called capitalism. But the slump was not due to these conditions. On the contrary, it was due to their negation. It was due to monetary mismanagement and State intervention operating in a milieu in which the essential strength of capitalism had already been sapped by war and by policy. Ever since the outbreak of war in 1914, the whole tendency of policy has been away from that system, which in spite of the persistence of feudal obstacles and the unprecedented multiplication of the people, produced that enormous increase of wealth per head…. Whether that increase will be resumed, or whether, after perhaps some recovery, we shall be plunged anew into depression and the chaos of planning and restrictionism—that is the issue which depends on our willingness to reverse this tendency.

„I shall always regard this aspect of my dispute with Keynes as the greatest mistake of my professional career, and the book, The Great Depression, which I subsequently wrote, partly in justification of this attitude, as something which I would willingly see be forgotten. […] Now I still think that there is much in this theory as an explanation of a possible generation of boom and crisis. But, as an explanation of what was going on in the early ’30s, I now think it was misleading. Whatever the genetic factors of the pre-1929 boom, their sequelae, in the sense of inappropriate investments fostered by wrong expectations, were completely swamped by vast deflationary forces sweeping away all those elements of constancy in the situation which otherwise might have provided a framework for an explanation in my terms. The theory was inadequate to the facts. Nor was this approach any more adequate as a guide to policy. Confronted with the freezing deflation of those days, the idea that the prime essential was the writing down of mistaken investments and the easing of capital markets by fostering the disposition to save and reducing the pressure on consumption was completely inappropriate. To treat what developed subsequently in the way which I then thought valid was as unsuitable as denying blankets and stimulants to a drunk who has fallen into an icy pond, on the ground that his original trouble was overheating.“

—  Lionel Robbins

Autobiography of an Economist (1971), p. 154.

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