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John Kenneth Galbraith

John Kenneth Galbraith (born October 15, 1908) is something of an iconoclast among North American economists: he is an "old-fashioned" Keynesian with progressive values and a gift for writing accessible, popular books on economic topics in which he takes delight in describing ways in which economic theory does not always mesh with real life.

Galbraith was born in Iona Station, Ontario, Canada. He graduated from the University of Toronto and then got an M.S and Ph.D from the University of California, Berkeley.

During World War II, Galbraith served a tenure as deputy head of the Office of Price Administration. After the war, he became an advisor to post-war administrations in Germany and Japan.

In 1949, Galbraith was appointed professor of economics at Harvard University.

He was a friend of President John F. Kennedy and was appointed by Kennedy as U.S. ambassador to India from 1961 to 1963. There he attempted to aid the Indian government with developing the economy.

J.K. Galbraith is currently a teaching professor at the University of Texas at Austin.


In American Capitalism: The concept of countervailing power a seminal work published in 1952, Galbraith outlines how the American economy in the future would be managed by a triumvirate of big business, big labour, and an activist government. He contrasted this with the previous pre-depression era where big business had free reign over the economy.

In another work, The Affluent Society, which became a bestseller, Galbraith outlines how to be successful the United States would need to make large public investments in items such as highways and education. In The New Industrial State (1967), he argues that very few industries in the United States fit the model of perfect competition. In A Short History of Financial Euphoria (1990), he traces financial bubbles through several centries, and cautions that what currently seems to be "the next great thing" may not be that great and may have quite irrational factors promoting it.

Galbraith's son, James K. Galbraith, is also a prominent economist.

Partial bibliography