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Pick up any introductory economics text, and in its opening pages you’ll find the uncredited work of Joseph A. Schumpeter (1883-1950). He is best known for his theory of “Creative Destruction” – which posits the economic obliteration of the old to make way for the entrepreneurial new – but here he only alludes to it. This pioneering analysis made him an early champion of entrepreneurial profit and laid the groundwork for his later masterpieces on business cycles. Schumpeter wrote extensively on capital and capitalism, earning the sobriquet the “bourgeois Marx.” But he was not an iconic, dusty economist. He studied law, handled the financial affairs of an Egyptian princess in Cairo, became, at 28, the youngest full professor at the University of Graz and served as Austria’s finance minister. Famous for his eccentricities, he told his students that he had three goals: to become the greatest horseman, the greatest lover and the greatest economist. He would then note that he’d fulfilled only two of his objectives. getAbstract considers this classic treatise – despite its density and a few anachronisms – required reading for students of economics and finance in academia, business and public policy.
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