Jurg Niehans

Jurg Niehans was a great monetary theorist. He taught at Johns Hopkins University from 1966 until 1977 when he left to take a job at the University of Bern in Switzerland. Niehans was what I would call a technical economist. He went where his models took him. This characteristic is a benefit to readers of his work, but is perhaps a detriment to his enduring reputation among economists. Niehans was working at a time in which macroeconomics was firmly divided into two camps: Keynesian and Monetarist. Niehans was not really a member of either group. To those who want to read his work, this is a great characteristic because he often provides context and support for both groups on particular topic, tries to identify sources of disagreement, and ultimately attempts to explain what can be learned from those disagreements. However, likely because he want not a card carrying member of either of these two groups, the great David Laidler once told me that Niehans was both brilliant and often off on his own.

Journal Articles

Books

  • The Theory of Money (1979) - This is one of the best books ever written on pure monetary theory (especially for its time). Niehans had a knack for not only thinking about the core issues of monetary theory, elaborating those ideas using a model, but also placing everything in the context of the history of economic thought. He covers a variety of topics including the microeconomic foundations of money, commodity money, and what he calls the "art of central banking." Throughout the book, you get careful thinking about pure monetary theory.
  • International Monetary Economics (1984)
  • A History of Economic Theory (1990)