The New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics

2018 Edition
| Editors: Macmillan Publishers Ltd

Cassel, Gustav (1866–1944)

  • Bo Gustafsson
Reference work entry


Along with Knut Wicksell and David Davidson, Gustaf Cassel was the founder of modern economics in Sweden. He started as a mathematician and began his career as an economist by treating problems of railway rates and progressive taxation from a mathematical point of view. In order to deepen his understanding of economics he went to Germany, where he attended the seminars of Schönberg, Cohn and other traditional representatives of the economic profession. After visits to England, where he made the acquaintance of Marshall and of Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and a short period of lecturing at the university of Copenhagen, in 1902 Cassel took up a position as associate professor in economics at the university of Stockholm. In 1904 he was appointed a professor in economics and public finance. As holder of the chair he acquired a series of gifted pupils, Gunnar Myrdal and Bertil Ohlin among others, who, although they developed the theoretical heritage of Wicksell rather than that of Cassel, became the founders of the Stockholm School of economics. Before the First World War Cassel frequently served as a government expert on problems of railway rates, taxation, state budgets and banking and his involvement in problems of economic policy increased with the post-war economic problems. During the 1920s he became an adviser to the League of Nations on monetary problems and was commonly regarded as a leading international authority in this field, lecturing and publishing widely. All his life he worked also as a columnist for the Swedish daily paper Svenska Dagbladet. Although Cassel was originally liberal, he progressively turned more and more conservative denouncing the labour movement, the welfare state and Keynesianism in the name of ‘Modern Scientific Principles’.


Acceleration principle Business cycle theory Cassel, G. Davidson, D. Deflation Hadley, A. T. Harrod growth formula Inflation Kitchin, J. Labour theory of value Labour–capital ratio Marginal cost pricing Marginal utility of money Marginal utility theory of value Myrdal, G. Ohlin, B. G. Purchasing power parity Quantity theory of money Say’s Law Spiethoff, A. A. K. Stockholm School Trade unions Tugan-Baranowsky, M. I. Value Walras, L. Wicksell, J. G. K. Woytinski, W. S. 

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  1. A good biography of Cassel has yet to appear. The biography by his secretary, Ingrid Giobel-Lilja (1948), may be consulted for biographical details, especially as regards his family life. Böhm-Bawerk (1914) made a critical examination of Cassel’s theory of interest, and Wicksell (1919) published a very critical review of Theoretische Sozialökonomie. A more descriptive account of Cassel’s main work is to be found in Mitchell (1969); Gunnar Myrdal (1945) wrote an obituary; and Gustafsson (1964) offers another overall evaluation with emphasis on Cassel’s theory of long-run prices.Google Scholar
  2. Giobel-Lilja, I. 1948. Gustav Cassel, En livsskildring. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur.Google Scholar
  3. Gustafsson, B. 1964. Gustav Cassel (1866–1944). Vär Tid No. 3.Google Scholar
  4. Mitchell, W.C. 1969. Chapter 16 in Types of economic theory, vol. 2. New York: A.M. Kelley.Google Scholar
  5. Myrdal, G. 1945. Gustav Cassel in memoriam. Ekonomisk Revy. Republished (in Swedish) in J. Schumpeter, Stora nationalekonomer. Stockholm: Natur och Kultur, 1953.Google Scholar
  6. von Böhm-Bawerk, E. 1914. Exkurs XIII, Kritische Glossen zur Zinstheorie Cassels, Exkurse zur ‘Positiven Theorie des Kapitals’.Google Scholar
  7. Wicksell, K. 1919. Professor Cassels nationalekonomiska system. Ekonomisk Tidskrift 21: 195–226. Republished in Schmollers Jahrbuch 52(5), 1928, and in K. Wicksell, Appendix I in Lectures on political economy, vol. I. London: G. Routledge & Sons, 1934.Google Scholar

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© Macmillan Publishers Ltd. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bo Gustafsson
    • 1
  1. 1.