Adam Smith (1723-1790): Also known as the ‘father of modern economics,’ Adam Smith was the pioneer of political economy. His ‘Wealth of Nations’ is considered the first modern work of economics. In this piece, he explained the benefits of a free market economy where self interest would result in the betterment of the economy as a whole. He argued that if an individual pursued his own interests to maximize his revenues, he would be contributing more to the total proceeds of the society. Smith was against the formation of monopolies.
John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946): His 'General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money' made him the most notable economist of the twentieth century. Keynes fiercely advocated interventionist government policies. According to him, these would help in lessening the ill effects resulting from depressions and recessions. Though the Keynesian theories were attacked in the 1970s (especially by Milton Friedman), they regained importance after the 2008 global downturn. US President Barack Obama is using the Keynesian principles to revive the American economy.
Milton Friedman (1912 -2006): An advocate of free market, Friedman challenged the Keynesian policies which, according to him, were responsible for causing worldwide inflation. He argued against government intervention in a market economy. He also revived the 'Quantity Theory of Money.' Referring to the Great Depression, he said that it was caused by an ordinary financial shock. However, the effects were intensified by the imprudent policies of the Federal Reserve.