Abba Lerner

American economist (1903-1982)

Abraham "Abba" Ptachya Lerner (October 28, 1903October 27, 1982) was a Russian-born British economist.


  • What is scarce is money. The lack of money to spend on goods is what keeps the unemployed resources from producing more goods. Work, moreover, instead of being a curse, is desired more than anything else because the alternative is not enjoyment of leisure but the suffering of unemployment and deprivation. Of course, if people could get income without they would not object too much (although their self-respect in feeling they are useful members in society who are earning their income is too easily underestimated). But it is only by finding work they can obtain the necessary income they need.
    • On the causes of unemployment (1951, pg.147-48) [1]
  • The central idea is that government fiscal policy, its spending and taxing, its borrowing and repayment of loans, its issue of new money and withdrawal of money, shall be undertaken with an eye only to the results of these actions on the economy and not to any established traditional doctrine what is sound and what is unsound ...Government should adjust its rates of expenditure and taxation such that total spending is neither more or less than that which is sufficient to purchase the full employment level of output at current prices. If this means there is deficit, greater borrowing, "printing money," etc., then these things in themselves are neither good or bad, they are simply the means to the desired ends of full employment and price stability.
  • The scholars who understand it hesitate to speak out boldly for fear people will not understand. The people, who understand it quite easily, also fear to speak out while they wait for the scholars to speak out first. The difference between our present situation and that of the story is that it is not the emperor but the people who are periodically made to go naked and hungry and insecure and discontented - a ready prey to less timid organizers of discontent for the destruction of the civilization.
    • (1951, pg.16) [3]
  • Economics has gained the title Queen of the Social Sciences by choosing solved political problems as its domain
    • The Economics and Politics of Consumer Sovereignty Economics (1972, pg. 259) [4]
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