Some of my favorite economists (in no particular order):

Note:  Having lurched my way forward along the path of economic truth-seeking, I have edited this list  substantially [mostly removing the apostates & Luddites, and adding other luminaries].

John Maynard Keynes
A British economist whose ideas have profoundly affected the theory and practice of modern macroeconomics, as well as the economic policies of governments. He greatly refined earlier work on the causes of business cycles, and advocated the use of fiscal and monetary measures to mitigate the adverse effects of economic recessions and depressions. His ideas are the basis for the school of thought known as Keynesian economics, as well as its various offshoots [although many of these subsequent schools of thought - e.g., the Neo-Keynesians, New Keynesians, and the "synthesis" of Keynesian macro with neoclassical micro foundations that has become the mainstream orthodoxy - are based on bastardizations of Keynes' ideas, which Keynes himself would surely have refuted, if only had he lived longer].

In the 1930s, Keynes spearheaded a revolution in economic thinking, overturning the older ideas of neoclassical economics which held that in the short to medium term free markets would automatically provide full employment as long as workers were flexible in their wage demands. [Never mind that workers' 'flexibility' in re: wage demands are severely constrained by the fact that in a modern, credit-based capitalist economy their debt contracts are not similarly 'flexible.  Neoclassical economists apparently don't think that workers' impoverishment or bankruptcy matters much, either as a matter of economics or justice; rather, they seem to worship only the entrepreneurial aristocracy.  All hail the new corporatist plutocrats!]
Keynes instead argued that aggregate demand determined the overall level of economic activity, and that inadequate aggregate demand could lead to prolonged periods of high unemployment.  [A direct refutation of Say's Law - i.e., the assertion that supply is the source of its own demand - upon which much of neoclassical analysis rests. This canard is based on the false premise that the capitalist only exchanges his product for money for the purpose of subsequently acquiring other commodities for his consumption {now or in the indefinite future}... that money is an illusion, and is not hoarded nor the target of demand. 
Following the outbreak of World War II, Keynes's ideas concerning economic policy were adopted by leading Western economies. During the 1950s and 1960s, the success of Keynesian economics resulted in almost all capitalist governments adopting its policy recommendations, promoting the cause of social liberalism.
Keynes' influence waned in the 1970s, partly as a result of problems that began to afflict the Anglo-American economies from the start of the decade, and partly because of critiques from Milton Friedman and other economists who were pessimistic about the ability of governments to regulate the business cycle with fiscal policy.
However, the advent of the global financial crisis brought a resurgence in Keynesian thought. Keynesian economics has provided a theoretical underpinning for the economic policies of President Barack Obama of the United States, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom, and other global leaders to ease the late 2000s economic recession. 
Keynes is widely considered to be the father of modern macroeconomics, and by various commentators such as economist John Sloman, the most influential economist of the 20th century. In 1999, Time magazine included Keynes in their list of the 100 most important and influential people of the 20th century, commenting that; "His radical idea that governments should spend money they don't have may have saved capitalism".
In addition to being an economist, Keynes was also a civil servant, a director of the Bank of England, a patron of the arts and an art collector, a part of the Bloomsbury Group of intellectuals, an advisor to several charitable trusts, a writer, a private investor, and a farmer.

Hyman P. Minsky
An American economist and professor of economics at Washington University in St. Louis. His research attempted to provide an understanding and explanation of the characteristics of financial crises. Minsky was sometimes described as a post-Keynesian economist because, in the Keynesian tradition, he supported some government intervention in financial markets and opposed some of the popular deregulation policies in the 1980s, and argued against the accumulation of debt.
Minsky proposed theories linking financial market fragility, in the normal life cycle of an economy, with speculative investment bubbles endogenous to financial markets. Minsky claimed that in prosperous times, when corporate cash flow rises beyond what is needed to pay off debt, a speculative euphoria develops, and soon thereafter debts exceed what borrowers can pay off from their incoming revenues, which in turn produces a financial crisis. As a result of such speculative borrowing bubbles, banks and lenders tighten credit availability, even to companies that can afford loans, and the economy subsequently contracts.
This slow movement of the financial system from stability to crisis is something for which Minsky is best known, and the phrase "Minsky moment" refers to this aspect of Minsky's academic work.
"He offered very good insights in the '60s and '70s when linkages between the financial markets and the economy were not as well understood as they are now," said Henry Kaufman, a Wall Street money manager and economist. "He showed us that financial markets could move frequently to excess. And he underscored the importance of the Federal Reserve as a lender of last resort."
Minsky's model of the credit system, which he dubbed the "financial instability hypothesis" incorporated many ideas already circulated by John Stuart Mill, Alfred Marshall, Knut Wicksell and Irving Fisher. "A fundamental characteristic of our economy," Minsky wrote in 1974, "is that the financial system swings between robustness and fragility and these swings are an integral part of the process that generates business cycles."
Disagreeing with many mainstream economists of the day, he argued that these swings, and the booms and busts that can accompany them, are inevitable in a so-called free market economy – unless government steps in to control them, through regulation, central bank action and other tools. Such mechanisms did in fact come into existence in response to crises such as the Panic of 1907 and the Great Depression. Minsky opposed the deregulation that characterized the 1980s.

Irving Fisher
... was an American economist, health campaigner, and eugenicist, and one of the earliest American neoclassical economists, though his later work on debt deflation often regarded as belonging instead to the Post-Keynesian school. 
Fisher was perhaps the first celebrity economist, but his reputation during his lifetime was irreparably harmed by his public statements, just prior to the Wall Street Crash of 1929, claiming that the stock market had reached "a permanently high plateau." His subsequent theory of debt deflation as an explanation of the Great Depression was largely ignored in favor of the work of John Maynard Keynes. His reputation has since recovered in neoclassical economics, particularly after his work was popularized in the late 1950s and more widely due to an increased interest in debt deflation in the Late-2000s recession.

Fisher made important contributions to utility theory and his work on the quantity theory of money inaugurated the school of economic thought known as "monetarism." Milton Friedman called Fisher "the greatest economist the United States has ever produced." Some concepts named after Fisher include the Fisher equation, the Fisher hypothesis, the international Fisher effect, and the Fisher separation theorem.
Following the stock market crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression, Fisher developed a theory of economic crises called debt-deflation, which attributed crises to the bursting of a credit bubble.
According to the debt deflation theory, a sequence of effects of the debt bubble bursting occurs:
  1. Debt liquidation and distress selling.
  2. Contraction of the money supply as bank loans are paid off.
  3. A fall in the level of asset prices.
  4. A still greater fall in the net worth of businesses, precipitating bankruptcies.
  5. A fall in profits.
  6. A reduction in output, in trade and in employment.
  7. Pessimism and loss of confidence.
  8. Hoarding of money.
  9. A fall in nominal interest rates and a rise in deflation adjusted interest rates.
This theory was ignored in favor of Keynesian economics, partly due to the damage to Fisher's reputation from his sanguine attitude prior to the crash, but has experienced a revival of mainstream interest since the 1980s, particularly since the Late-2000s recession, and is now a main theory with which he is popularly associated
Wynne Godley
His principal interest was macroeconomic policy. But he had lost faith in the sort of short-term forecasting in which he had specialised at the Treasury, so he devoted his efforts instead to developing better techniques of medium-term modelling. A new way of thinking about the determinants of private spending led him to argue that the size of the foreign trade deficit depended mainly on the size of the public sector deficit, while the exchange rate and the competitiveness of the economy affected mainly the overall level of output and employment.
This proposition, when first enunciated, was attacked from all sides (the link between the budget deficit and the trade deficit continues to be debated among economists). But it was soon recognised as encapsulating an important truth which, though in some senses orthodox, had been effectively forgotten by a generation of British economic policymakers. In causing them to remember it again, Godley (who loved publicity and was something of a tease) acquired a reputation for contradicting other forecasters, usually by being more pessimistic, and being proved right.
Within the Department of Applied Economics, Godley formed the Cambridge Economic Policy Group (CEPG), which from 1971 to 1982 published an annual review, being among the few to predict the crash of the 1972-74 Heath-Barber boom and the depth of the 1979-81 Thatcher-Howe recession. Godley had also been convinced by Kaldor that to sustain growth and arrest the decline of British manufacturing (which had been the aim of the Selective Employment Tax), it would be necessary for Britain to stay out of the European Common Market and to impose across-the-board controls on manufactured imports.
Successive issues of the Cambridge Economic Policy Review skilfully argued this case. However, most economists, and most politicians, continued to hold strongly contrary views, and import controls were never tried. The work of the CEPG came to an abrupt halt in 1982 when the Economic and Social Research Council cut off its funding after a review of the Council’s support to macroeconomic modelling in the UK. Godley never ceased to feel bitter about the way in which this was done: without any consultation or a site visit to Cambridge. But he continued to direct the Department of Applied Economics until 1987, retiring in 1993, and for the rest of his life he remained active in research and writing on macroeconomics, of two different but closely related sorts.
One strand of his work was on macroeconomic policy. He published many articles and letters commenting on the current situation, analysing future prospects and making recommendations for government action. From 1992 to 1995 he was a member of the Treasury’s Panel of Independent Forecasters (the “six wise men”), created in response to criticism of official forecasts. As a Distinguished Scholar at the Levy Institute in New York State in the 1990s, he then turned his focus to the growing macroeconomic imbalances in the United States.
Seeing clearly that the US imbalances implied counterpart imbalances in the rest of the world, Godley was among the first to say that the trajectory of the global economy was unsustainable. His repeated and articulate warnings of disaster to come were heard by a number of influential people, but, alas, not by enough of them to stop the 2008 crash happening, though this was partly because Godley, like most others, did not have enough information about the crazy behaviour of respectable financial institutions.
In the UK, he rejected as hubris the view of the Treasury under Gordon Brown that the Monetary Policy Committee and the Golden Rule (of a balanced budget over the cycle) had solved the problems of macroeconomic management. With characteristic prescience, he wrote in 2005 that “I don’t think it will be long before discretionary fiscal policy . . . has to be rehabilitated”.
The other strand of his work was on macroeconomic theory. The clarity and originality of his policy insights rested ultimately on a model in his own mind of how the economy operates. The challenge was to write that model down formally in a way that would make it accessible to others and contribute to the development of academic research. His efforts to do so resulted in a series of articles and two books, the first co-authored with Francis Cripps in 1983 and the second with Marc Lavoie in 2007. He also published an important book on industrial pricing in 1978, building on work he had started in the 1950s.
The 2007 book, Monetary Economics, is Godley’s main legacy to academia. It is a long and difficult work, and even he recognised that more remained to be done, but it is a clear and through articulation of the basic principles of his approach. The key is internal accounting consistency and completeness. There must be no dustbins or black holes. Every financial flow must come from somewhere and go to somewhere, and over time these flows must translate into matching changes in stocks of physical and financial assets. This approach is different from that of standard macro theory, especially in assigning a more important role to financial assets. As macroeconomists rethink standard theory after the debacle of 2008, they could learn much from reading Godley’s book (and should not be put off by its hostility to standard theory).
John Kenneth Galbraith 

Abba P. Lerner
Abba Lerner was the milton friedman of the left.
Like Friedman, Lerner was a brilliant expositor of economics who was able to make complex concepts crystal clear. Lerner was also an unusual kind of socialist: he hated government power over people’s lives. Like Friedman, he praised private enterprise on the ground that “alternatives to government employment are a safeguard of the freedom of the individual.” Also like Friedman, Lerner loved Free Markets. He opposed Minimum Wage laws and other price controls because they interfered with the price system, which he called “one of the most valuable instruments of modern society.”

Lerner, like Friedman, had a sharp analytical mind that made him follow an argument to its logical conclusion. During World War II, for example, when john maynard keynes gave a talk at the Federal Reserve Board in Washington, Lerner, who was in the audience, found Keynes’s view of how the economy worked completely convincing and challenged Keynes for not carrying his own argument to its logical conclusion. Keynes denounced Lerner on the spot, but Keynes’s colleague Evsey Domar, seated beside Lerner, whispered, “He ought to read The General Theory.” A month later, wrote Lerner, Keynes withdrew his denunciation.
Lerner’s main contribution to macroeconomic policy is his concept of functional finance. Lerner thought that if governments wanted to increase aggregate demand so as to maintain employment, and if the federal budget was balanced, the government should run a deficit by increasing government spending or decreasing taxes. If, on the other hand, the government wanted to decrease aggregate demand, it should, if the budget was balanced, run a surplus by decreasing government spending or raising taxes.
These thoughts are often attributed to Keynes, and they do follow from Keynes’s reasoning. But Keynes never stated them. It took Lerner’s clear thinking to get from Keynes’s model of the economy to these policy conclusions. Lerner’s thoughts are attributed to Keynes because textbook writers, wanting to make Keynes’s thinking clear, were immediately drawn to Lerner’s thinking. As economist David Colander has written, Keynes could be considered just as much a Lernerian as a Keynesian.
Lerner also developed the concept of distributive efficiency, which shows that economic equality will produce the greatest total happiness with a given amount of wealth.

Warren Mosler

Steve Keen

Steve Keen is Associate Professor of Economics & Finance at the University of Western Sydney, and author of the popular book Debunking Economics (Zed Books UK, 2001;

Steve predicted the financial crisis as long ago as December 2005, and warned that back in 1995 that a period of apparent stability could merely be “the calm before the storm”. His leading role as one of the tiny minority of economists to both foresee the crisis and warn of it was recognised by his peers when he received the Revere Award from the Real World Economics Review for being the economist who most cogently warned of the crisis, and whose work is most likely to prevent future crises.

He has over 50 academic publications on topics as diverse as financial instability, the money creation process, mathematical flaws in the conventional model of supply and demand, flaws in Marxian economics, the application of physics to economics, Islamic finance, and the role of chaos and complexity theory in economics. His work has been translated into Chinese, German and Russian.

In Debunking Economics, Steve let the general public in on a little-known secret: that many widely believed economic models have been shown by economists to be wrong—hence the subtitle to his book, “the naked emperor of the social sciences.

This is emphatically the case with the so-called “Efficient Markets Hypothesis”, which still dominates academic thinking about finance today—even after the Global Financial Crisis. Since 1995, Steve’s main research focus has been the development an alternative, empirically grounded theory, known as the “Financial Instability Hypothesis”, which argues that finance markets are inherently unstable. Steve’s forthcoming book on this topic, Finance and Economic Breakdown, will be published by Edward Elgar (UK) in 2012.

From November 2006 till March 2010, he  published Debtwatch, a monthly report which explains the dangers of excessive private debt. In March 2007, he started the blog Steve Keen’s Debtwatch, which now has over 5,000 members and more than 50,000 unique readers each month.

Steve’s excellent communication skills were honed in his pre-academic career, which included stints as a school librarian, education officer for an NGO, conference organizer, computer programmer, journalist for the computer press, and economic commentator for ABC Radio National and Radio Australia.

Augusto Graziani
Bernard Schmitt
L. Randall Wray

A Nobel Prize-winning economist, NY Times columnist & author of "Conscience of a Liberal", Krugman sometimes doesn't sweat the details (especially when he's in attack mode), but his heart is in the right place.  PK is, however, still an avowed DSGE disciple, albeit of the saltwater variety of New Keynesians.

James K. Galbraith 
Lloyd M. Bentsen Jr. Chair in Government/Business Relations and Professor of Government @ University of Texas.

Galbraith is the author of six books and several hundred scholarly and policy articles. His most recent book, "Unbearable Cost: Bush, Greenspan and the Economics of Empire", was published by Palgrave-MacMillan in late 2006. His next book will be “The Predator State: How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too,” forthcoming from The Free Press. Inequality and Industrial Change: A Global View (Cambridge University Press, 2001), is coedited with Maureen Berner and features contributions from six LBJ School Ph.D. students. Created Unequal: The Crisis in American Pay, was published by the Free Press in August 1998.

Galbraith maintains several outside connections, including serving as a Senior Scholar of the Levy Economics Institute ( and as chair of Economists for Peace and Security ( He also writes a column on economic and political issues for Mother Jones, and contributes occasionally to The American Prospect, The Nation, the Texas Observer and to the op-ed pages of the major newspapers.

Galbraith teaches economics and a variety of other subjects at the LBJ School and UT Austin's Department of Government. He holds degrees from Harvard and Yale (Ph.D. in Economics, 1981). He studied economics as a Marshall Scholar at King's College, Cambridge, and later served on the staff of the U.S. Congress, including as Executive Director of the Joint Economic Committee, before joining the faculty of the University of Texas. He held a Fulbright Distinguished Visiting Lectureship in China in the summer of 2001, and was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2003.
His recent research has focused on the measurement and understanding of inequality in the world economy, while his policy writing ranges from monetary policy to the economics of warfare, with forays into politics and history. Visit the web-site of the University of Texas Inequality Project (UTIP) for current research and an archive of published writings.
Joseph Stiglitz
 [blog] [wiki]
Is “boom and bust” a permanent feature of the capitalist order? Do global markets need global regulation – and are today’s supranational institutions the right ones to provide it? Is the dream of a Third Way between today’s global capitalism and yesterday’s discredited socialism still alive?
Nowadays, the economic establishment seems to offer the same answer to every question: let markets decide. Policymakers and thinkers who suggest alternatives are shrugged off as leftist dinosaurs fighting yesterday’s battles. Small wonder that most economists do not dare to buck conventional wisdom. Not Joseph E. Stiglitz – a Nobel Laureate in Economics and a leading nonconformist mind. Always on the lookout for the best, Project Syndicate enlisted Professor Stiglitz to provide an exclusive monthly commentary to its member papers.
Chairman of the US Council of Economic Advisers under President Clinton throughout much of the longest boom in US history, former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank, former professor at the world-renowned economics departments of Stanford, Yale, Princeton, and Oxford, and currently at Columbia University, Joseph E. Stiglitz is a pathbreaking theorist in the fields of the economics of information, taxation, development, and trade.
His views on the dynamics of information and technical change revolutionized the field. He also saw first hand the flaws and defects in today’s economic orthodoxy, and while others were happy to let the good times roll on, his criticisms of the “Washington Consensus” from within rocked the World Bank.
As the world grapples with the idea that the business cycle has not been repealed, that markets go down as well as up, and that sustained development demands more than imported capital, Joseph E. Stiglitz's “dissents” are gaining greater urgency.

Dean Baker [wiki]
Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC.  He is frequently cited in economics reporting in major media outlets, including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, CNBC, and National Public Radio.  He writes a weekly column for the Guardian Unlimited (UK), and his blog, Beat the Press, features commentary on economic reporting.  His analyses have appeared in many major publications, including the Atlantic Monthly, the Washington Post, the London Financial Times, and the New York Daily News. He received his Ph.D in economics from the University of Michigan.

Dean has written several books, his latest being Taking Economics Seriously (MIT Press) which thinks through what we might gain if we took the ideological blinders off of basic economic principles, and False Profits: Recovering from the Bubble Economy (PoliPoint Press, 2010) about what caused - and how to fix - the current economic crisis. 
In 2009, he wrote Plunder and Blunder: The Rise and Fall of the Bubble Economy (PoliPoint Press), which chronicled the growth and collapse of the stock and housing bubbles and explained how policy blunders and greed led to the catastrophic - but completely predictable - market meltdowns.  He also wrote a chapter ("From Financial Crisis to Opportunity") in Thinking Big: Progressive Ideas for a New Era (Progressive Ideas Network, 2009). 
His previous books include The United States Since 1980 (Cambridge University Press, 2007); The Conservative Nanny State: How the Wealthy Use the Government to Stay Rich and Get Richer (Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2006), and Social Security: The Phony Crisis (with Mark Weisbrot, University of Chicago Press, 1999).  His book Getting Prices Right: The Debate Over the Consumer Price Index (editor, M.E. Sharpe, 1997) was a winner of a Choice Book Award as one of the outstanding academic books of the year.
Among his numerous articles are "The Benefits of a Financial Transactions Tax," Tax Notes 121, no. 4, 2008; "Are Protective Labor Market Institutions at the Root of Unemployment? A Critical Review of the Evidence," (with David R. Howell, Andrew Glyn, and John Schmitt), Capitalism and Society 2, no. 1, 2007; "Asset Returns and Economic Growth," (with Brad DeLong and Paul Krugman), Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, 2005; "Financing Drug Research: What Are the Issues," Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2004; "Medicare Choice Plus: The Solution to the Long-Term Deficit Problem," Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2004; The Benefits of Full Employment (with Jared Bernstein), Economic Policy Institute, 2004; "Professional Protectionists: The Gains From Free Trade in Highly Paid Professional Services," Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2003; and "The Run-Up in Home Prices: Is It Real or Is It Another Bubble," Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2002.

Dean previously worked as a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute and an assistant professor at Bucknell University. He has also worked as a consultant for the World Bank, the Joint Economic Committee of the U.S. Congress, and the OECD's Trade Union Advisory Council.  He was the author of the weekly online commentary on economic reporting, the Economic Reporting Review (ERR), from 1996 - 2006.

Mark Thoma
Mark Thoma is Professor of Economics, University of Oregon and author of the Economist's View blog. He specializes in time series econometrics. Great blog, with refernces, articles and links to all sorts of econoblogs with varying viewpoints, although Mark & the great majority of his followers tend to fall on the liberal side. Personally, I do not find him to be an ideologue, but that might depend on how far right you're coming from.

George Akerlof
An American economist and Koshland Professor of Economics at the University of California, Berkeley. He won the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics (shared with Michael Spence and Joseph E. Stiglitz).
Akerlof is perhaps best known for his article, "The Market for Lemons: Quality Uncertainty and the Market Mechanism", published in Quarterly Journal of Economics in 1970, in which he identified certain severe problems that afflict markets characterized by asymmetrical information, the paper for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize. In Efficiency Wage Models of the Labor Market, Akerlof and coauthor Janet Yellen propose rationales for the efficiency wage hypothesis in which employers pay above the market-clearing wage, in contradiction to the conclusions of neoclassical economics.

In his latest work, Akerlof and collaborator Rachel Kranton of Duke University introduce social identity into formal economic analysis, creating the field of Identity Economics. Drawing on social psychology and many fields outside of economics, Akerlof and Kranton argue that individuals do not have preferences only over different goods and services. They also adhere to social norms for how different people should behave. The norms are linked to a person's identity. These ideas first appeared in their article "Economics and Identity", published in Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2000.

Ernst Fehr 
An economist from Austria. He is director of the Institute for Empirical Research in Economics at the University of Zürich, Switzerland. His research covers the areas of the evolution of human cooperation and sociality, in particular fairness, reciprocity and bounded rationality. He is also well-known for his important contributions to the new field of neuroeconomics, as well as to behavioral finance and experimental economics. According to the Handelsblatt, Fehr is the second-most influential German-speaking economist. He was mentioned as a potential recipient of the 2009 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, although ultimately he did not win.

Dan Ariely
An Israeli professor of Psychology and behavioral economics. He teaches at Duke University and is the founder of The Center for Advanced Hindsight.
He was formerly the Alfred P. Sloan Professor of Behavioral Economics at MIT Sloan School of Management. Although he is a professor of marketing with no training in economics, he is considered one of the leading behavioral economists. Ariely is the author of the books Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (Ariely 2008), which was published on February 19, 2008 by HarperCollins and The Upside of Irrationality: The Unexpected Benefits of Defying Logic at Work and at Home (Ariely 2010), published on June 1, 2010 by HarperCollins.
When asked whether reading Predictably Irrational and understanding one's irrational behaviors could make a person's life worse (such as by defeating the benefits of a placebo), Ariely responded that there could be a short term cost, but that there would also likely be long-term benefits, and that reading his book would not make a person worse off.

Emmanuel Saez