Who is James Tobin?

Who is James Tobin?

James Tobin was a Neo-Keynesian economist who received the 1981 Nobel Prize in Economics for his research on the financial system and its impact on inflation and employment.

He is best known for pioneering the Tobin Tax, a levy on foreign exchange transactions to reduce currency speculation.

Tobin is the author of several books including Essays in Economics and Money, Credit and Capital. James Tobin died on March 11, 2002.

Early Life of James Tobin

James Tobin was born in Champaign, Illinois, on March 5, 1918. He attended the University Laboratory High School of Urbana, Illinois. In 1935, Tobin was encouraged by his father (Louis Michael Tobin) to take the Harvard University entrance exams, and he was admitted to the university with a scholarship.

The American economist first read “Keynes’ General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money” in 1936, during his studies. Tobin’s thesis was focused on analyzing Keynes’ framework for presenting equilibrium “involuntary” unemployment. After graduating, Tobin continued his studies, obtaining a Master of Arts degree in 1940. He would later obtain his Ph.D. in 1947.

In 1941, Tobin published his first article – “A Note on the Money Wage Problem” in the Quarterly Journal of Economics – which was based on his thesis. Between 1941 and 1942, he worked as an economist for the Office of Price Administration in Washington, D.C. Tobin enlisted in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War, where he served as an officer.

After the war, Tobin returned to Harvard University to pursue his Ph.D. in 1947. In 1950, he was appointed as an Associate Professor of Economics at Yale University. In 1971, he became the president of the American Economic Association (AEA).

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In 1981, Tobin was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics, and he retired from Yale in 1988. The American economist passed away on March 11, 2002.