Friedrich August Hayek (1899 - 1992)
One of the prominent figures in economics, Hayek was highly esteemed for his remarkable contributions to the defense of free-market capitalism, an idea that played a crucial role in deregulation and privatization. His argument was premised on the Austrian school of thought, emphasizing the bottom-up nature by which economy operates, where no single individual or group can possibly fully grasp the complexity of the market. This basically implies that governing less is governing best.
Adam Smith (1723-1790)
The father of modern economics and a major proponent of capitalism and free-market. He might not have been the man to invent the ideas, but he was the one who expounded and popularized the structure and the idea of self-interest, incentive and invisible hand, which are some of the primary components of modern economic thinking leading to the birth and adoption of free market and capitalism. His work has had a significant influence on many economists of our modern time.
Alfred Marshall (1842 - 1924)
As one of the principal founders of Neo-classical Economics, Alfred Marshall laid an important groundwork for many subsequent economic ideas in his most famous book, "the Principles of Economics", which pioneered the popular supply and demand graphical representation. He also improved the mathematical rigor of economics, and thus, transformed the once fragmented economic theories into a coherent whole. Some of his students too became leading figures in economics, including John Maynard Keynes.
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