Research Article

The Macroeconomic thought of Nicholas Barbon

James H. Ullmera1

a1 Western Carolina University, College of Business, Cullowhee, NC.

Nicholas Barbon (1640–1698) is little appreciated by most historians of economic thought. He is sporadically mentioned in a few writings—probably the most well-known being the favorable reference to him made by John Maynard Keynes (1883–1946) in The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money (Keynes 1936, p. 359). The fullest treatment of Barbon's economic ideas is contained in The Origin of Scientific Economics: English Economic Thought 1660–1776 by William Louis Letwin (Letwin 1963, pp. 48–75). Letwin considers a major defect of Barbon's first purely scientific inquiry into economics, A Discourse of Trade (Barbon 1690), and by implication, his other economic writings, to be “the logical incoherence of its parts” (Letwin 1963, p. 57). This criticism is not surprising in light of the pre-paradigm period in which Barbon was writing.