Double Trouble: Modern Misreadings of Cantillon

Roy H Grieve

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Although the 18th century Franco-Irish financier Richard Cantillon is universally esteemed as an outstanding pioneer of economic analysis, his work is not immune to present-day misunderstanding. This paper identifies two current misreadings both relating to his concept of "intrinsic value." Both need clearing-up. (1) Anthony Brewer (1992) claimed to find a fatal flaw in Cantillon's theory of value. The present author (1993) demurred. That objection has not been taken up (or dismissed) in subsequent discussion of Cantillon's work. We therefore have unfinished business. (2) A second issue has emerged. Modern "Austrian" commentators (who express great admiration for Cantillon) are promoting a seriously erroneous misinterpretation of his theory of value. We think it is time both to put forward, against Brewer’s allegation, a stronger defence of Cantillon's theory, and also to make the point that Cantillon's conception is fundamentally different from how (some) "Austrian" admirers apparently see it.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationGlasgow
PublisherUniversity of Strathclyde
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • intrinsic value
  • distribution and value
  • Austrian theory
  • opportunity cost


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